Tag Archive: Yale University

  1. Group violence caused by friendship networks

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    A study at the Yale Institute of Network Science has found that social networks are critical to humans’ motivations for participation in group violence.

    The researchers mapped social connections among 91 men of the Nyangatom tribe, which is known for participating in group raids of neighboring tribes, in Ethiopia over three years. The study found that men were more likely to participate in a raid if they were recruited by a friend rather than recruited by the leader of the raid. These results are relevant to other violent phenomena, such as mobs, revolutionary movements and gang warfare, because they show that people are more likely to participate in risky behaviors if their friends are participating as well.

    “What we found is that people go to war with their friends,” said Nicholas Christakis ’84, the co-director of the Yale Institute of Network Science and a senior author of the study.

    To determine friendship networks, the researchers mapped a gift-exchange network within the community, Christakis said. The researchers asked each man in the Nyangatom tribe to whom he would like to give a small gift, and these gift networks were then mapped to show the social networks of the individuals within the tribe.

    The results found that a Nyangatom man was 19.2 percent more likely to participate in a given raid for every nonleader friend going on the raid, while he was only 6.8 percent more likely to participate if the friend was a leader of the raid.

    Additionally, the study found that there was no significant increase or decrease in a man’s likelihood to participate in a raid when a sibling was participating in the raid, nor was likelihood to participate affected by physical characteristics such as height or weight.

    “What this suggests is whether you purchase an iPad or whether you read the [Yale Daily News] may have less to do with your gender or your major or which dorm you live in and more to do with what are your friends doing,” Christakis explained. “These phenomena are not fully explainable or even well explainable based on assumptions about your attributes. Instead they may have to do with the structure of the group and what is happening around you.”

    These social networks are known to be very similar across human societies, said Alexander Isakov, a co-first author of the study who focused on data analysis. Therefore, the results found in this study could actually mirror what occurs in certain violent groups in western society, such as gang violence or terrorism, he explained.

    According to Isakov, the violence caused by these groups and the Nyangatom tribe raids are both similar in that it is not formal military conflicts. He added that these raids also do not have traditional leaders, which forces them to rely on pre-existing ties within the community.

    “The social ties that exist in this community, the friendship ties, actually amplify this collective violence,” Isakov said.

    Christakis pointed out that this study addressed the “collective action problem,” which deals with how to recruit others to participate in potentially dangerous behaviors, especially when the risks are individual but the benefits are shared by the group.

    Christakis added that these social networks obey very particular biological, psychological, sociological and mathematical rules, and the goal of the Yale Institute of Network Science is to understand these rules and how to use them to make changes.

    “We are studying how to facilitate global health behavior change,” Christakis said. “How do you create artificial tipping points in developing world villages so if one person starts vaccinating their children the whole village starts vaccinating their children?”

    The study also developed a mathematical model for determining the leaders in the raid.

  2. Joint-degree center celebrates 10th anniversary

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    As the Yale Center for Business and the Environment kicked off its 10th-anniversary celebration in September, students and faculty reflected on the center’s progress in the past decade, as well as issues it faces.

    Launched by the Yale School of Management and the School of Forestry & Environmental Science in 2006, the center provides a platform for research, networking and social gatherings for students pursuing joint master’s degrees in environmental management and forestry from the two professional schools.

    Bradford Gentry, associate dean for professional practice and a co-director of the center, said the number of joint-degree students has risen from fewer than 20 to about 60 since the center’s inception. The center also helped Yale earn a seat in leading world organizations on sustainability, such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Gentry said.

    “There’s a lot of work to be done, as we see more wealth in the economy, which usually leads to overconsumption [that] leads to environmental pollution,” Gentry said. “The center very much works to find business solutions to address these concerns.”

    The celebration will last through spring 2017 and will involve a series of dinners for donors, workshops and webinars.

    While most centers aim to enhance faculty research programs, Gentry said, the CBEY is unique in its focus on career-oriented events and social activities.

    Gentry added that the center has continued to create new programs to accommodate the increasing number of joint-degree students. For example, Gentry said the center offers a research project where students work with the Connecticut Green Bank, alumni and SmartPower — a national nongovernmental organization on clean energy — to build more solar panels across New Haven.

    “The joint-degree program between the two schools is the strongest from the point of view of each school. [CBEY] is the perfect example of what a center can do,” SOM Dean Edward Snyder said.

    Still, Gentry said the center faces funding problems and needs more money to fund more collaborative projects that connect theory with practice.

    According to Heather Fitzgerald, associate director of CBEY, the center’s funding comes from philanthropic sources, mainly foundations and private donors. She added that the center is rolling out a model for corporate partnerships to develop business solutions to social and environmental challenges. The financial commitment will depend on the level of engagement of each partner, Fitzgerald said.

    “We’re very much student-led, so we want to make sure that the center’s goals match the interests of the students,” Fitzgerald said. “While interests can vary as new students come through the program, our long-term goals and objectives remain focused.”

    Fitzgerald mentioned several long-term goals for the center, including training multidisciplinary leaders in global sustainability, creating research projects that engage all networks within and outside of Yale and transforming the world to a sustainable economy. Fitzgerald added that many of the center’s current partnerships, such as the one with the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition — a group that lobbies for taxing carbon emission — are working to achieve these goals.

    Pamela Jao FES ’17 praised the center’s commitment to creating a community for joint-degree students, adding that for example, the “secret Santa” event that the center has organized each Christmas showed the center’s efforts to bring students together.

    As the joint-degree program expands, however, Jao said the community ties felt weaker than before. She added that the program — which consists of about 15 percent students of color — could be more diverse.

    Fitzgerald said the center’s efforts to bring speakers who are racially diverse reflect on the students’ wish for more diversity.

    The first joint-degree program between SOM and F&ES was created in 1982.

  3. SOM hosts Live Pitch Competition

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    Last Thursday, Connecticut Innovations — the state’s leading source of financial support for early-stage companies and small businesses — held its inaugural VentureClash Live Pitch Competition.

    Eleven finalists competed at Yale’s School of Management for a grand prize of $1.5 million in capital and an additional grant of up to $100,000. Dream Payments, a cloud-based payment platform, took home first place.

    Participants were chosen from a pool of over 200 startup financial and health technology companies over the past six months, and keynote speakers at the event included Chief Technology Officer of Priceline.com — the “Name Your Own Price” internet service — Scott Case, who addressed the budding entrepreneurs as the “heroes” of the afternoon.

    “The entrepreneurs are at the center of everything,” Case said in his address. “There are investors here and big companies here, but none of this happens without the founders who take the risks and put themselves out there every day and build their companies.”

    When it was time to take to the stage, each finalist had five minutes to make their pitch, followed by a five-minute question and answer section. From California to France to Israel, early-stage companies from around the globe took the opportunity to present to a live audience of over 150 attendees. Among the audience was a panel of six judges, comprised of leading financial and health experts representing athenahealth, Inc., Kepha Partners, Oak HC/Ft, Point72 Ventures, Magellan Health and Canaan Partners.

    The competition started off with Hong-Kong-based company AMP Credit Technologies, which offers a technological platform that allows banks and small loaning businesses the opportunity to make automated, paperless loan origination a reality. CEO Thomas Deluca emphasized that the system would be easily integrated into already-existing banking information, making credit assessment, loan repayment and risk portfolio management easier and more efficient.

    Other competitors included Belgium-based LindaCare, which endorsed OnePulse, a remote-monitoring system that gives health practitioners a unified view of a particular patient’s history of tele-monitored health alerts and follow-up background to help improve chronic disease care. Along those same lines, CSIS Director Aengus Moran presented his company’s case for a patient-centered clinical decision support software.

    The Irish company uses a combination of integrated information systems and clinician support that results in a platform which effectively reviews patient medications, integrates into existing health care information systems and is accessible to clinicians and administrators without much training.

    Deviating from the banking and health tech companies, U.K.-based Hubbub advocated for SponsorCraft, a system focused on acquiring and retaining donors for nonprofit fundraising.

    “We’re … a little bit less Fintech, and a little bit more Funtech,” said Jonathan May, co-founder of the company. “I spent my life as a child fundraising money for charities, schools, universities and startups … Fundraising is a funnel. You need to look at engagement, acquisition, growth and retentions strategies.”

    Capitalizing on social media, he highlighted how his company has evolved and helped change the landscape and concept of giving in a revolutionary way. The company, May said, uses social data mining to subdivide databases that recognize viable prospects with white-label crowdfunding and digital-giving tools to increase donor conversion and retention.

    With costumers like Oxford University, the University of London and the University of Southampton, Hubbub is looking to expand to the U.S., first by entering the market via universities, and later expanding to nonprofit agencies.

    “When you give, you give online and what happens when you do that is you share that with other people like you,” he said. “There is a huge transition right now from direct mail and phones, to the digital space.”

    As the event came to a close, May’s end-goal came $1 million closer to being achieved as his company won first-runner-up for the contest.

    The whopping $1.5 million, however, went to Brent Ho-Young’s early-stage company Dream Payments. The system itself is a “payments cloud” that banks, small businesses and a variety of other financial institutions can use to deliver mobile payment acceptance solutions to their customers.

    “This is as powerful as a register in a retail store, but it’s mobile, it’s low-cost and it can support any type of mobile wallet, Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) chip technology,” Ho-Young said. “The key thing for us is that we see a universe of billions of devices out there that, as long as they can connect to the Internet, we can secure them and process payments from that. That could be a wearable, that could be a connected fridge in your break room, it doesn’t matter. We can power them.”

    Dream Payments is headquartered in Canada, but counts multiple American banks among its clientele, such as TD and Chase banks.

    At the end of the competition, however, win or lose, it became startlingly clear that the very presence of these companies in Connecticut sent a vital message to the rest of the nation.

    “This particular program has generated a lot of interest within our state,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at the competition. “It’s allowed us to reach out to a lot of individuals and organizations … and it is just one more tool that we’ve used to ensure that people understand that Connecticut is not only open for business, not only inviting that business, but we’re partners in so many of those businesses.”

    Four runners-up received $500,000 and a grant of up to $50,000.