Toward a better supply chain and a revitalized America
Most people give little, if any, thought to the supply chain. Until it fails. And with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 and 2020, it did fail—frequently and sometimes spectacularly. Factories closed. Stores and restaurants shuttered. Container ships idled offshore for weeks, awaiting a berth at their destination port. Meanwhile, driver shortages slowed the trucking of essential goods. Making the quandary more complex, consumer demands shifted as Americans spent more time at home.
In “Reinventing the Supply Chain: A 21st-Century Covenant With America” (Georgetown University Press, 2023), Jack Buffington, academic director of DU’s supply chain management program, argues that the pandemic itself did not break the supply chain. Rather, it exposed problems that were festering for decades and that were readily apparent in deindustrialized cities and depopulated rural areas. In assessing the situation, Buffington puts the global supply chain under the microscope to identify just where and when the system went wrong. Finally, and optimistically, he proposes several creative fixes and demonstrates how a retooled supply chain can lead to the revitalization of American communities.
Among his proposed fixes: a move away from what he calls a “long-tailed global supply chain” to more of a community-based, peer-to-peer supply chain. The latter, Buffington argues, will lead to “a greater balance between supply and demand and a movement away from price to value.”
Debut children’s book cultivates curiosity in young girls
As the mother of a young, perspicacious girl, alumna Jodie Antypas (MBA ’05) delighted in her daughter’s curiosity. That others weren’t equally delighted came as something of a shock.
“When my daughter was just 6 years old, she came home from school and said that someone told her she was too curious,” she says. “It broke my heart. I needed her to see what I see—her curiosity is a gift.”
To help her daughter make that connection, Antypas, a marketing executive at a Bay Area tech company, wrote “Just Like an Astronaut” (Mascot Books, 2022), a children’s book that introduces readers to curious Grace, a girl who loves learning about outer space. “‘Grace’ was invented to help [girls celebrate their curiosity]. The curiosity in my daughter—in all our kids—is magical and will lead us all into a better world,” she explains.
“Just Like an Astronaut” tackles two of the major “blockers” that keep young girls from embracing the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines: self-doubt and embarrassment. Grace experiences both, after a day where everything goes wrong. She starts to listen to a negative voice in her head and begins to question her self-worth. But with the help of her parents, teachers and friends, she regains her adventurous spirit.
With illustrations by Ana Sebastian, the book is resonating with children and their families in the Bay Area, where Antypas has promoted the book at readings and book fairs. “Parents and teachers are loving the combination of social-emotional learning and STEM themes in the book,” Antypas says. “My goal is to encourage kids to stay curious and get them to talk about feelings like embarrassment and shame that some experience when they ask questions and make mistakes, while they are learning about new topics.”
Alumna’s first novel draws on her passions and values
Coloradans eager to see their beloved state as a backdrop will appreciate the first novel from alumna Shelley Read (BA ’88), “Go as a River” (Spiegel & Grau, 2023), which opens in the 1940s in the ranch town of Iola, now underwater due to the 1960s construction of a dam. The tale follows Victoria Nash, the only surviving female in a family of men, through her teens and a life characterized by tribulations and greeted with fortitude.
Read, a fifth-generation Coloradan, was a senior lecturer at Western Colorado University for nearly three decades. There, she taught writing, literature and environmental studies. For her novel, she drew on some of the central preoccupations of her teaching and reading life. “This novel,” she says, “gets at the heart of what is most valuable to me and what I think the world needs now: a strong connection to nature, a belief in love, and a deep faith in personal resilience. I hope that my novel will leave readers exploring some of the relevant issues of our time—displacement, prejudice and notions of progress; the value of women, mothers, and the natural world; resilience in the face of adversity; and, of course, the extraordinary power of love.”
To date, the book has generated significant interest in the publishing world, with plans afoot for its publication in international markets. Read’s novel has also earned kudos
from the literary community. Novelist and playwright Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of “The Good Left Undone,” puts it this way: “‘Go as a River’ is a stunning debut set in the soul of the American dream.”
Harnessing positive psychology to make better decisions
Over the course of any given waking hour, most of us will make dozens of decisions, a fair number of which we’ll come to regret. Some of them may be downright disastrous.
In “Wise Decisions: A Science-Based Approach to Making Better Choices” (John Wiley & Sons, 2022), behavioral geneticist Sheila Walker and co-author James Loehr put the decision-making process under the microscope, all in the interest of helping young people and their families make decisions and choices that are grounded in science and likelier to support their big-picture goals and complement their values. In doing so, Walker and Loehr remind readers that “Human beings are skillful fiction-making machines. Our brains are always working to get us what we want in life and can deploy a surprising number of ingenious reality-distorting strategies to do just that. If you want to buy a car that you really can’t afford, eat unhealthy foods that you know are not good for you, or get involved in an office romance you know should never happen, be very careful because your brain can figure out a way to get you there.”
The first chapter anchors sound decision-making in holistic health: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Subsequent chapters cover everything from training one’s inner voice to managing stress, energy and emotions. Along the way, Walker and Loehr offer guidance on uploading decision-making priorities into what they call the brain’s “command center” and on harnessing the brain’s capacity for “reflective consciousness.”
Walker, the founding donor and visionary behind the Center for Sport and Human Development at DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology, is a renowned expert on positive psychology. A former professional tennis player, she focuses her research on how nurture (environment) shapes nature (DNA). Drawing on this framework, she explores how to create contexts in sport, school and nature settings that unlock the potential of youth.
Friends of DU will appreciate that the book’s foreword is authored by Chancellor Emeritus Dan Ritchie. “I wholeheartedly believe,” he writes of “Wise Decisions,” that “its pages hold life-changing wisdom and perspective.” In his deeply personal piece, Ritchie chronicles his 16-year tenure at DU, referencing decisions that made a huge difference for the institution and for him personally. “Decision by decision,” he writes, “we moved in the direction of True North, and slowly but surely, we began to turn a corner.”