The Pulse: Suicide Prevention Expert “Pulls Back the Layers”

STAN COLLINS, GRAPHIC 1A monthly series of conversations on healthcare issues

  • Topic:Leading Edge Strategies in Suicide Prevention”
  • Host: Leslie Bruce, ‎Director, Healthcare Leadership and Community Outreach, UC San Diego Extension
  • Guest: Stan Collins, suicide prevention expert


Stan Collins, a nationally-known suicide prevention specialist, has spent the last 14 years educating more than 500,000 adults and youth about how they can help prevent suicide.

In 2001, he testified before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the topic of youth suicide. He currently works as a consultant to numerous organizations in the field, focusing on technical assistance in creation and implementation of suicide prevention curricula and strategies.


  • “A lot of times when you hear reports of suicide in the media, it’s portrayed as this ‘inexplicable’ thing that happened, as with Robin Williams. No one could imagine why he could’ve done this. But when you pull back the layers a bit, you find out there was a history of substance abuse, possibly a mental illness diagnosis, also a possible diagnosis of a serious terminal illness.”


MOOC Presenter Ramanathan Honored as Leading Global Thinker

YOUR HOLINESS: Scripps Institution of Oceangraphy's Veerabhadran Ramanathan met with Pope Francis in May.

YOUR HOLINESS: Scripps Institution of Oceangraphy’s Veerabhadran Ramanathan met with Pope Francis.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan – profiled as the cover story of UC San Diego Extension’s Summer 2014 catalog – has been recognized by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014.

The distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences was cited for promoting dialogue with religious and political leaders to advance environmental stewardship.

Ramanathan was among four world-renowned UCSD scientists featured in “Climate Change in Four Dimensions: Scientific, Policy, International, and Social” – an online course offered earlier this year by Extension.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) drew an estimated 15,000 students from around the world.

Ramanathan has achieved significant breakthroughs in the understanding of the effects of aerosols – particularly air pollution – on climate. In May 2014, at the personal invitation of Pope Francis, he hosted a first-ever papal conclave devoted to reversing global climate change.

Career Talk: “Justice Served, A Prosecutor’s View of the Law”


A monthly series of conversations with UC San Diego Extension instructors

  • Topic: “Justice Served: A Prosecutor’s View of the Law”
  • Host: John Freeman, Director of Communications, UC San Diego Extension
  • Guest: Richard Sachs, Instructor, Criminal Law & Procedure and Evidence Law


An Extension instructor in Paralegal, Richard Sachs teaches two courses, Criminal Law & Procedure and Evidence Law. He’s also a long-time prosecutor and deputy district attorney with the City of San Diego.

It’s his job to make sure convicted criminals serve sufficient prison time before parole, a process known as “lifer hearings.” Throughout his career, he has regarded law as “endlessly fascinating.”


  • “The majority of our cases are for murder, first- or second-degree murder. A small minority are for kidnapping, rape or robbery. … Most of the time, we’re opposed to parole. If I was to put a number on it, it would probably be about 95 percent.”

This Career Talk Radio podcast is part of Career Channel. You can subscribe to Career Talk Radio via iTunes.


His Life As a Screenwriter: “It’s An Art That Can Be Learned”

Warren Lewis: "We don’t have failure in my class, we just write another draft."

Warren Lewis: “We don’t have failure in my class, we just write another draft.”


For starters, Warren Lewis has a declaration to make: “I’m a proud son of the real Brooklyn, not the ‘suddenly chic’ Brooklyn. My heart is still in Coney Island.”

Clearly New York City born-and-bred, Lewis has spent much of his professional life as a Hollywood-based screenwriter, achieving notable success.

Among avid movie-goers, those who can’t wait to read the final credits, he’s best known for his work on the hit films Black Rain (1989, starring Michael Douglas, directed by Ridley Scott) and The 13th Warrior (1999, starring Antonio Banderas).

In addition, he’s worked on countless studio-backed and independent film projects, screenplays, TV projects, and theatre adaptations. As he likes to say, he’s submitted scripts and re-writes “for studios living and dead.”

Through the years, Lewis has also been drawn to teaching his art form. Along with his UC San Diego Extension courses, he’s now an adjunct professor in the screenwriting program at Cal State Fullerton.

His next Extension course is Screenwriting I, eight sessions from Jan. 31 through March 21, 2015.

1) Besides writing ability, what’s the most important talent to have?
You have to really love movies, be dedicated to what you do, and know how to tell your stories. You can’t allow yourself to be distracted by the many things that will try to stop you, like fear.

2) Is it enough to be obsessed by movies?
There are “movie people” and “non-movie people” in the world. It’s not quite an obsession, but you have to be a fan. There’s a certain hunger that can only be satisfied by going deeper into films.

3) How can you tell if someone is a true movie person?
We like to speak in code with each other, like “Hey, that guy’s just like Ranse Stoddard in ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.’ ”

4) What movies most inspired you and your career?
All the works of (director) John Ford.

5) What’s the best advice you give your students?
We don’t have failure in my class, we just write another draft. Another piece of advice, in most cases, is to always remember whom you’re writing for – the audience.

6) What do you hope your students gain from taking your course?
I can’t promise to make them a good writer – nobody can do that. But I hope they come away with an appreciation of the profession. They’ve got to do the work. If it was easy, anybody could do it.

7) What’s the most difficult part of pitching a script?
The most difficult part for some people is engaging the imagination of a roomful of people, verbally, because it’s about giving a performance. A lot of writers can’t do that.

8) What’s the moment of your career that makes you the most proud?
In 2011, I was invited on a Navy ship for a return-from-deployment cruise, called a “tiger cruise.” It was around Christmas. Those guys had been at sea for months and were anxious to get home. It turned out that a lot of them – especially the Marines – really liked The 13th Warrior, so they showed the movie on-board. I wouldn’t trade that night and the applause from those guys for anything in the world.

9) Do you think movie-goers appreciate how difficult it is to be a screenwriter and get a movie made?
No, and I don’t think they should think about it. In the best of all worlds, people are transported by what they see and feel. Hopefully, they’re not distracted by “the man behind the curtain.”

10) What’s the ultimate goal, to make a movie you’re proud of? Or a movie script that you get paid for that never gets made?
We all like getting a check. I know writers who have written movie scripts for years and never had a movie actually made. It’s happened to me. My best work hasn’t been made yet. On the other hand, there’s nothing like hearing your lines on-screen.

Exploring Creative Spaces in Education Through Depth and Complexity, Part 3

Creative Inspiration Using Depth, Complexity and Flexible Grouping

Morgan Appel, Director, Education Department

As human beings with unique cognitive and affective profiles, we differentiate ourselves organically in terms of abilities and skills; learning styles; and interests. When we consider creative movements, we come to realize that diversity in thought and perspective offers potential for high-yield returns. Certainly, the development of atomic knowledge would have been hindered were our objectives to cultivate groupthink and similar—if not the same—sets of skills. Perhaps these aims were appropriate in the times of factories and assembly lines, less in the wake of an information-laden and technology-heavy society. At the same time—as we acknowledged in Part 2 of this series—it is not possible to create individualized curricula for over 40 students every hour of every day of the year.

Yet, our robust understanding of the human brain does enable us to take advantage of cognitive economies of scale. We do know, for example, that it is conceivable to establish small groups of pupils with similar interests, abilities and learning styles, and that we can use these groupings in conjunction with whole-group instruction to facilitate active learning and rapid movement from manipulation to abstraction. These types of groupings tend to mirror those associated with creative movements, providing multifaceted and multiple occasions to interact with content, sensemaking; and showcasing of work product. Such was the case with the Manhattan Project, which included scientists of every stripe; metallurgists; design specialists; and organizational specialists who provided guidance at every turn. Out of these smaller, purpose-driven groupings emerged leaders and forward thinkers who may not have surfaced in the larger group—especially in the shadow of charismatic and magnanimous personalities like Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.


As we differentiate instruction to embrace multiple interests and ways of knowing, we seek not only to extend the area of study by pursuing it in additional depth, but also by examining an area of study in relation to other areas of study—including areas of overlap. This rather straightforward idea of engaging elements of depth and complexity harkens back to the brain’s distinctive need to make sense of multiple sources of information through problem solving; its inborn capacity to identify patterns and outliers; and the importance of an emotional connection to learning. Herein, we provide a foundation for ‘flow’ and affix conceptions within and across academic disciplines and interdisciplinary solutions that demand divergent ways of thinking and knowing. This indeed is the nexus of CCSS, NGSS and STEAM—an environment replete with opportunities to think in dynamic and creative ways. We empower others and bring them into the fold and work collaboratively and independently with an unequivocal end goal in mind.

As defined by Sandra Kaplan, professor at the University of Southern California, in her ongoing work in iconic teaching for the gifted and talented, elements of Depth include:

  • Understanding rules
  • Understanding trends
  • Understanding ethical considerations
  • Understanding patterns
  • Recognizing details
  • Using the language of the discipline
  • Surfacing unanswered questions
  • Defining the ‘big idea’

Elements of Complexity include:

  • Relating elements over time
  • Seeing multiple perspectives
  • Relating across disciplines

One can only envisage the possibilities in provoking groups of pupils to challenge their own ways of thinking through manifold combinations of these elements and the wellspring of creative thought that might emerge.

As we muse over the creative movements highlighted in earlier posts, it is easy to speculate upon the ways in which these defined elements of depth and complexity may have come into play–albeit in a less structured and more amorphous manner. However, as current trends in education exhibit a return to creativity and metacognitive thought, it is imperative that practitioners receive expert guidance in working with these elements and acquire contextually grounded strategies to do so. Our window of opportunity here is narrow as the reform pendulum threatens to swing yet again. Let us hope that the parallels we see are the prophecies for a more inventive educational future.

For questions about this posting or the work of the Education Department more broadly, please contact Morgan Appel, Director, at

Exploring Creative Spaces in Education Through Depth and Complexity, Part 2

Learning Environments as Sources of Creative Inspiration

Morgan Appel, Director, Education Department

Part 1 of this series on Creative Spaces highlighted the fundamental characteristics of our most productive creative movements, motivating a more intensive reflection on their abilities to attend to the cognitive and affective domains of the brain. These reflections prompted us to ponder whether creative characteristics might be applied in some fashion to P-20 education using STEAM, CCSS and NGSS as vehicles for forward momentum.

A Window of Opportunity

It is here in this cerebral Casablanca that we can reconnoiter the nexus of STEAM, CCCS, NGSS and the spaces that lie between in an effort to re-create innovative environments that were the essence of what has come before. For those of us serving on the front lines of gifted and talented education, we see on the far horizon a unique window of opportunity to lead the way in empowering pupils toward greater achievement, understanding and appreciating what they have learned in meaningful ways. As practitioners emerge from the malaise that was No Child Left Behind, we find that there are new ways of thinking about teaching that are neither panacea nor Pandora’s Box—but ultimately sensible and appealing to multiple senses and modalities. In other words, we can kindle flow and engagement by smartly shepherding our charges from manipulation to application and to abstraction within and across academic disciplines, offering all the opportunity to shine in relative and relevant ways.


Recall that our brains rely heavily on the survival mechanism to enhance learning and memory—and we are hardwired to dismiss about 99 percent of what we learn absent redundancy and reinforcement. Ergo, the more frequently we are immersed in a thing or concept in divergent contexts, the more likely it is that the thing or idea will be incorporated into long-term memory. This concept seems to speak volumes about the need for cross-disciplinary curriculum and instruction and its use in the brain’s need to solve problems. At the same time, practical neuroscience dictates that we all learn in different ways and at different paces as dictated by our affective and cognitive makeup. As we ponder our approach to educational standards, the essential point is that we arrive at the same destination though our mode of transport may be different. The destination is made better for diversity in travel, having learned much along the way.

Paving the Way for Differentiation

Our collective hackles are then raised—one cannot assume that even with the most forward-thinking learning technologies teachers are able to create forty bespoke lesson plans on a daily basis. We can, however, look at strategies that enable us to shift the balance of learning so it is more interdependent and explore groupings that embolden cooperative and creative learning. We can find ways to create a sort of perpetual motion within the classroom and incorporate those characteristics of creative movements presented in Part 1 of this posting. We can find our ‘flow’ space (or at least opportunities for ‘flow’) in differentiating curriculum and instruction using elements of depth and complexity. Establishing creative villages in which pupils work collaboratively according to their own interests and strengths mirror processes that extend back to the ancients. Our brains are a bit selfish in this respect. We learn about what we like, and we learn in best in the way we like to learn it. Accordingly, presenting multiple avenues for intake, process and production are brain-friendly and set the stage for creative play and ‘flow.’

In Part 3 of this series, we investigate how small changes in the classroom routine can produce sea changes in teaching and learning by meeting pupils where they are and building, guiding them with precision and care across the Zone of Proximal Development and into the creative spaces that exist at the intersection of CCSS, NGSS and STEAM.

For questions about this posting or the work of the Education Department more broadly, please contact Morgan Appel, Director, at

Exploring Creative Spaces in Education Through Depth and Complexity

Part I: The Gestalt of Creative Movements Over Time

Morgan Appel, Director, Education Department

In studying the gestalt of creative movements over the ages, one is able to divine compelling parallels between these movements and current trends in education, such as Common Core State Standards (CCSS); Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); national standards for the gifted and talented; and, perhaps most importantly, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). This is largely because that before these movements had acronyms attached to them, they had other names familiar to us all: Camelot; the Bauhaus; the Renaissance; Projects Apollo and Gemini; the Manhattan Project; among others. They were—and continue to be—the stock and trade of creativity and innovation. They are—and hopefully will continue to be—catalysts for transformation across P-20.

Characteristics of Creative Movements

One can certainly marvel at the notion that these were efforts that built on mutual and diverse strengths and synergies. These were movements that were purpose-driven and dedicated to the intuitive precept that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Moreover, they manifest common characteristics fundamental in leveraging the neuroscience of learning and teaching. In other words, empirical evidence proffers these movements were/are:

  • Involving
  • Spirited and frequently manic
  • Chaotic, yet controlled or managed
  • Focused and purpose-driven
  • Cross-disciplinary and porous
  • Tense
  • Artistic
  • Collaborative at times/competitive at times
  • Energetic
  • Synergistic
  • Differentiated
  • Epiphany-based
  • Deep (disciplinary focus)

A more widespread examination of the creative métiers submits that in a prima facie sort of way, they could be characterized as brain friendly (or at the very least compatible) in attending to the affective and cognitive needs of those who participated therein. In other words, these cooperative ventures tapped into the innately human need to solve problems using diverse data and to engage in informed intellectual risk-taking in environments rich in challenge but relatively low in threat. We find that these movements also provided multiple opportunities to move about Bloom’s original and revised taxonomies and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences with great ease. Affectively, participants become emotionally committed to the work, offering occasion for greater commitment and a degree of joie de vivre in its pursuit. In many instances, such as in the case of the Bauhaus, play and experimentation within and across disciplines fed the lifeblood of creativity as well as provided openings for the release of tensions and anxieties. Exploration of potential in a collaborative and spirited way paved the way for innovative ideas and designs that remain commonplace in our popular culture. Unlearning the old became as important as learning the new. Creative movements also served as a training ground and stimulus for the development of ‘sound habits of mind,’ those uniquely metacognitive processes that benefit within and across disciplines.


With intellectual and inventive challenges that slightly exceeded individual aptitudes for participants, creative movements set the stage for what is called ‘flow’ in positive psychology—a uniquely balanced frame of mind in which one becomes wholly immersed in work undertaken. Flow is a time-transcendent state of mind that gave us visionaries like Jimi Hendrix, Martha Graham, President John F. Kennedy among many others. Chemically, we find that ‘flow’ rests somewhere between the meditative, Zen-like state and the rapid switching of attentions to new problem solving activities.

We all experience ‘flow’ in one sense or another—some through reading; sewing; or tennis. Most of us do so when playing recreational video games or when caught in the grips of social media.

Logically, we can add ‘flow’ to our earlier listing of characteristics and the lexicon of creative movements. Given that current policies and ideologies in P-12 education advocate for greater flexibility and creativity in teaching and learning processes and seek to enhance metacognitive abilities among children and young adults, can we not turn to creative movements of the past to find inspiration?

In Part 2 of this posting, we explore the nexus of educational movements and trends, seeking out ways to replicate environments that are inspired by and for ‘flow’ and innovation.

Extension’s Biotech Project Management Workshop: “More Vitally Important Skills Than Ever”


Global Biotechnology Project Management Workshop

  • Date/time: Monday, Nov. 17, 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Site: Green Flash Brewery, 6550 Mira Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92121
  • Admission: $25/20 (academic), $50 (recruiters)

The San Diego Biotechnology Network (SDBN) is teaming up with UC San Diego Extension to present its Global Biotechnology Project Management Workshop and Networking Event on Monday, Nov. 17, at Green Flash Brewery, 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Open to those interested in pursuing biotechnology careers, the workshop will feature a panel of experts discussing the latest trends in global biotech project management.

Confirmed panelists include:

  • Jenny Chaplin: development director, Pfizer (general topic: “Soft skills needed for successful project management and global challenges”)
  • Steve Linton, director, project management, Halozyme (“Importance of risk analysis and stakeholder management”)
  • Kevin Tays, director of project management, Janssen Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson (“Launching a new compound project; importance of setting strategy early”)
  • Yves Theriault, president, California Institute for Performance Management (“Benefits of project management and general trends”)

The event stems from a recent SDBN member survey which 120 respondents indicated that project management was the No. 1 need for the San Diego region’s biotech industry.

According to Locke Epsten, director of corporate education for UC San Diego Extension, the results ring true.

“With so many projects being conducted by teams that involve international companies and span multiple time zones,” said Epsten, the event’s organizer, “project management skills are becoming more vitally important than ever.”

Dinner will be provided, with beer and soft drinks available for purchase.

Panelists to Med School Prospects: Persistence Counts

Carolyn Kelly

Carolyn Kelly

Approaches to a career in medicine can be many and varied.

That was the underlying theme of “The Persistence Factor: Alternative Pathways to Your Medical Career,” a Nov. 12 panel discussion aimed at prospective medical school students.

Presented by UC San Diego Extension, the 90-minute discussion was recorded by UCSD-TV for future airing.

Leslie Bruce

Leslie Bruce

Serving as moderator was Leslie Bruce, Director of Healthcare Leadership at UC San Diego Extension.

An audience of some 45 attendees heard from the following panelists:

  • Clinton Adams, DO: former Dean of Western University, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific
  • Rodney Hood, MD: Community physician; former President, National Medical Association; Graduate (’72), UC San Diego School of Medicine
  • Carolyn Kelly, MD: Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs, UC San Diego School of Medicine
  • Jose Gerardo Lopez: Graduate, Class of 2014, UC San Diego Extension Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program

A sampling of observations by the panelists:

Clinton Adams

Clinton Adams

Dr. Clinton Adams:

  • “If you can demonstrate drive and persistence, that says to an admissions officer, ‘This is somebody who really wants to go into medicine.’ ”
  • “We look for students who believe in the osteopathic philosophy. We try to make sure you care about the whole patient.”
  • “We emphasize the humanistic, caring touch, but believe me, the rest of our curriculum is about the same as other MD schools.”
Rodney Hood

Rodney Hood

Dr. Rodney Hood:

  • “Medicine has changed drastically since I was first getting started. I’ve witnessed a lot of change and I know a lot of colleagues who are disillusioned.”
  • “I look for two words: respect and passion.”
  • “Do not go into medicine unless you have a passion for healing and listening. … Some of our patients just want to have someone to talk to about their health problems.”

 Dr. Carolyn Kelly:

  • “We look for a sense of knowledge of what a lifetime career devoted to serving others really means.”
  • “The applicant who doesn’t demonstrate that they care is unlikely to be a successful applicant to our school.”
  • “In addition to competence, we look for caring, compassionate, life-long learners.”

Jose Gerardo Lopez:

  • “When I was growing up, I discovered I enjoyed taking care of my family members. After a while, I realized it’s in my nature.”
  • “I took anatomy in high school, and it was pretty exciting to me.”
  • “I decided I would do whatever it takes to go to medical school. After you complete the post-bac, pre-med program, it makes you feel like, ‘I can do this.’ ”


Campus’ International Education Week (Nov. 17-21) to Salute Educational and Cultural Exchanges

11-12-14 UCSD STUDENTS ON WALLUC San Diego will celebrate the 10th annual International Education Week (IEW) with a number of free on-campus events open to all students, from Monday, Nov. 17 to Friday, Nov. 21.

As inaugurated by former President Clinton in 2000, IEW is celebrated in more than 100 countries around the world to symbolize the importance of cross-cultural learning.

Under the aegis of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, IEW provides an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.

The cross-cultural intent is to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the U.S.

UC San Diego’s student population includes some 2,800 undergraduate international students. In addition, UC San Diego’s English Language Institute, a part of Extension, hosts more than 600 international visiting students each quarter through the academic calendar.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the entire campus to celebrate the many cultures that are represented here on campus,” said Roxanne Nuhaily, executive director of UC San Diego Extension’s International Programs.

11-12-14 NEWSROOM, INTL EDUCATION WEEKScheduled campus activities:

Monday, Nov. 17

  • 11 am to 12 noon: Flag Parade. Participants are invited to bring their own flags and wear their team’s jersey. Site: Starts at Great Hall at I-House and ends at Town Square.
  • 12 noon to 2 pm: Grand Opening Ceremony featuring welcome remarks by UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. International food trucks will be serving wide range of cuisines. Site: Town Square in front of the Student Center.

Tuesday, Nov. 18

  • 2 pm to 4 pm: Triton World Cup, featuring competitive soccer matches with some of UC San Diego’s best soccer teams. Site: Warren Field.

Wednesday, Nov. 19

Thursday, Nov. 20

  • 11:30 am to 1:30 pm: TEDxUCSD presents Global Talks with five speakers, two TEDx videos and live entertainment to inspire discussion and inspire positive change for both the campus and global communities. Site: Student Center Multipurpose Room.
  • 5:30 pm to 10 pm: Open Air International Film Festival. Presenting the first UC San Diego showcase of diverse short films from around the world. Site: Marshall Field.

Friday, Nov. 21






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