Posted 4.2.15

Harry Bury, PhD '75

Harry Bury, PhD in Organizational Behavior, '75, has integrated spirituality, political activism, scholarly research, and pedagogical inventiveness throughout all aspects of his life, from his work as a priest and educator to his efforts on an international scale, including protests in Saigon, peace mediation in Gaza, and prison reform around the globe. Now, Bury has written a book on how to think and feel differently in the new millennium, with the aim to inspire large-scale change.

Bury earned a PhD in organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management in 1975. He came to Case Western Reserve University because he wanted to learn how to change large-scale systems. His initial interview by students and faculty for his acceptance made a distinct and lasting impression on him—students were given the power to influence not only who joined the program but who would be invited to teach in the program. The fact that the OB faculty could manage pressures from administration and students effectively made Bury realize that he had much to learn from this unique group of faculty members.

This unusual grassroots model of leadership continued at the start of one of Bury’s most memorable classes with OB faculty member Don Wolfe. Wolfe did not spend the first day of class going over the syllabus and required texts. Instead, Wolfe used the entire three hours determining what it was the students wanted to learn together over the course of the semester. Wolfe began the next class reviewing what it was they had discussed previously and then asked the students how they wanted to learn it. The entire three-hour class was again dedicated to this discussion. During their third meeting time, Wolfe asked the class to share what resources they wanted to use in order to learn this new material, and they spent at least half of that class brainstorming consultants they’d like to hear from, books they wanted to use, and departments they felt could help them achieve their goals.

An Invitation to Think and Feel Differently in the New MillenniumThis is really something, Bury thought to himself then. It was this bottoms-up learning experience—much like community organizing—that inspired Bury to write his book An Invitation to Think and Feel Differently in the New Millennium.

Think and Feel Differently is Bury’s attempt to inspire grassroots change in what people assume is their realities. By analyzing and changing four fundamental assumptions people hold unconsciously, individuals can make change in the world toward peace.

Embracing these four basic assumptions, Bury attests, would transform the world for the better. They are:

  1. We are forever in the process of discovering.
  2. We visualize and create what we want.
  3. We are all one.
  4. We intend to do what is best. 

Bury’s book provides illustrations of what the world could be like if we embrace collectively these four basic assumptions. Each story imagines life:

  • When people believe we do not know the whole truth and, therefore, are open to others’ points of view;
  • When we see the cup of life half-full rather than half-empty;
  • When we go beyond a “fix it” mentality and appreciate “what is,” thus seeing everyone’s potential;
  • When we realize we are one with each other, so that what is good for one is good for others;
  • When people believe everyone is acting in their perceived best self-interest, and thus no one intentionally sets out to do evil.

The trick, Bury says, is getting people to move from, “Yes, this sounds like a good idea,” to real action and behavior change. Beyond thinking and feeling differently, then, Bury’s book is a call to behave differently, thus effecting positive change on the large scale Bury aspired to when first enrolling in the PhD program at Weatherhead.

Learn more about the PhD in Organizational Behavior and Dr. Bury’s book, An Invitation to Think and Feel Differently in the New Millennium.

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