MINERVA VOICES

Living Our Mission: An Open Letter to Minerva’s Graduate Students

by Casey Saenger, Ph.D., Former Head Instructor for the Master in Decision Analysis program and Associate Professor of Natural Sciences

October 21, 2020

This speech was originally given at the Fall 2020 Convocation for Minerva’s Master of Decision Analysis Class of 2022.

Minerva’s mission is “to nurture critical wisdom for the sake of the world”, and I would like to take a moment to highlight the latter part of this phrase.

You likely entered the Master in Decision Analysis program with a particular goal, be it to increase profit margins, improve your community’s education system, or position yourself for an upcoming promotion. These are all perfectly reasonable goals, and we look forward to you achieving them. However, we expect that they will not be your only pursuits.

The state of the world today is more uncertain than it has been for some time, with questions of equality and a global pandemic at the forefront, while issues like climate change continue to persist in the background. The equivalent challenges of the future are difficult to predict, but we can be certain that their solutions will not be simple. You were selected for this program, in part, because we saw potential in each of you to help solve the bigger challenges threatening our global community. We, therefore, ask that you remain open to contributing to these larger issues in addition to your personal pursuits.

Taking on these large problems outside what you perceive as your area of expertise is never easy and you should be prepared for this. Not coincidentally, Minerva’s learning philosophy may be unlike what you have experienced in the past, and may also not be easy. At Minerva, you should not expect to be told the answer. Rather, you should expect to learn in fits and starts with moments of struggle, confusion, and questioning, which eventually yield understanding and the “critical wisdom” that makes up the other half of our mission. We ask that you embrace this process, as this seemingly messy approach is what is required for authentic learning. Authentic learning, in turn, is what will help equip you to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

Such authentic learning cannot be decoupled from your community and your peers. You should expect the people here to help you learn by routinely challenging your understanding through respectful questioning and critique. Similarly, we ask you to support their learning by providing the same in return. This commitment will bring rewards that span across time and location, which will not only help better yourself and achieve your goals, but hopefully improve the world at large.

If you are ready to challenge the status quo in order to make a global impact, learn more about Minerva’s MDA program.

Quick Facts

Name
Country
Class
Major

Cognitive Science and Economics & Political Science

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Cells and Organisms & Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Applied Problem Solving & Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

This speech was originally given at the Fall 2020 Convocation for Minerva’s Master of Decision Analysis Class of 2022.

Minerva’s mission is “to nurture critical wisdom for the sake of the world”, and I would like to take a moment to highlight the latter part of this phrase.

You likely entered the Master in Decision Analysis program with a particular goal, be it to increase profit margins, improve your community’s education system, or position yourself for an upcoming promotion. These are all perfectly reasonable goals, and we look forward to you achieving them. However, we expect that they will not be your only pursuits.

The state of the world today is more uncertain than it has been for some time, with questions of equality and a global pandemic at the forefront, while issues like climate change continue to persist in the background. The equivalent challenges of the future are difficult to predict, but we can be certain that their solutions will not be simple. You were selected for this program, in part, because we saw potential in each of you to help solve the bigger challenges threatening our global community. We, therefore, ask that you remain open to contributing to these larger issues in addition to your personal pursuits.

Taking on these large problems outside what you perceive as your area of expertise is never easy and you should be prepared for this. Not coincidentally, Minerva’s learning philosophy may be unlike what you have experienced in the past, and may also not be easy. At Minerva, you should not expect to be told the answer. Rather, you should expect to learn in fits and starts with moments of struggle, confusion, and questioning, which eventually yield understanding and the “critical wisdom” that makes up the other half of our mission. We ask that you embrace this process, as this seemingly messy approach is what is required for authentic learning. Authentic learning, in turn, is what will help equip you to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

Such authentic learning cannot be decoupled from your community and your peers. You should expect the people here to help you learn by routinely challenging your understanding through respectful questioning and critique. Similarly, we ask you to support their learning by providing the same in return. This commitment will bring rewards that span across time and location, which will not only help better yourself and achieve your goals, but hopefully improve the world at large.

If you are ready to challenge the status quo in order to make a global impact, learn more about Minerva’s MDA program.