Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Social Sciences


Why is the world changing so fast?

Over the past 30 years, I have worked on many reference books, and so am no stranger to recording change. However, the pace of change seems to have become more frantic in the second decade of this century. Why might this be? One reason, of course, is that, with 24-hour news and the internet, information is transmitted at great speed. Nearly every country has online news sites which give an indication of the issues of political importance.

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How university students infantilise themselves

Like their forebears in the 1960s, today’s students blasted university leaders as slick mouthpieces who cared more about their reputations than about the people in their charge. But unlike their predecessors, these protesters demand more administrative control over university affairs, not less. That’s a childlike position. It’s time for them to take control of their future, instead of waiting for administrators to shape it.

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The transition of China into an innovation nation

The writing is on the wall: China is the world second largest economy and the growth rate has slowed sharply. The wages are rising, so that the fabled army of Chinese cheap labor is now among the most costly in Asian emerging economies. China, in the last thirty years has brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, but this miracle would stall unless China can undertake another transformation of becoming an innovation nation.

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Engendering debate and collaboration in African universities

A quick scan of issues of the most highly-ranked African studies journals published within the past year will reveal only a handful of articles published by Africa-based authors. The results would not be any better in other fields of study. This under representation of scholars from the continent has led to calls for changes in African universities, with a focus on capacity building. The barriers to research and publication in most public universities in Africa are many.

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The University: past, present, … and future?

By nearly all accounts, higher education has in recent years been lurching towards a period of creative destruction. Presumed job prospects and state budgetary battles pit the STEM disciplines against the humanities in much of our popular and political discourse. On many fronts, the future of the university, at least in its recognizable form as a veritable institution of knowledge, has been cast into doubt.

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Brexit: the UK’s different options

The UK’s vote to leave the EU has resulted in a tremendous amount of uncertainty regarding the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Yet, predicting what type of new relationship the UK will have with the EU and its 27 other Member States post-‘Brexit’ is very difficult, mainly because it is the first time an EU member state prepares to leave. We can expect either one, or a mixture, of the following options.

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Will print die?: When the inevitable isn’t

Mark Twain is reputed to have quipped, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Such hyperbole aptly applies to predictions that digital reading will soon triumph over print.
In late 2012, Ben Horowitz (co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz Venture Capital) declared, “Babies born today will probably never read anything in print.” Now four years on, the plausibility of his forecast has already faded.

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The power of volunteering: you make me happy and I make you happy

Millions of people across the world work for voluntary organisations and invest their abundant energies into helping their communities. Historically, establishments of voluntary organisations date back to at least the nineteenth century, when some of the world’s largest voluntary organisations, such as the Red Cross, were established to help people in need for free. To date, volunteer work remains a popular activity among the public worldwide.

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5 things you always wanted to know about interest groups

Virtually no government policy gets enacted without some organized societal interests trying to shape the outcome. In fact, interest groups – a term that encompasses such diverse actors as business associations, labour unions, professional associations, and citizen groups that defend broad interests such as environmental protection or development aid – are active at each stage of the policy cycle.

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Social Work

Homelessness: issues by the numbers and how you can help

Today, 10 October, is World Homeless Day. This day is dedicated to increasing awareness of the global issues surrounding homelessness, as well as getting people involved in their community to help meet the needs of homeless people locally. The increased publicity and solidarity of the global platform helps to strengthen grassroots campaigns at the most local level. The problems regarding homelessness are multifaceted.

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Is elementary school mathematics “real” mathematics?

When people think of elementary school mathematics, they usually bring to mind number facts, calculations, and algorithms. This isn’t surprising, as these topics tend to dominate classroom work in many elementary schools internationally. There is little doubt that elementary students should know the multiplication tables, be able to do simple calculations mentally, develop fluency in using algorithms to carry out more complex calculations

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How well do you know your world leaders? [quiz]

In today’s globalised and instantly shareable social-media world, heads of state have to watch what they say, just as much – and perhaps even more so – than what they actually do. The rise of ‘Twiplomacy’ and the recent war of sound bites between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton speak to this ever-increasing trend. With these witty refrains in mind, test your knowledge of world leaders and their retorts – do you know who said what?

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American History

Twitter and the Enlightenment in early America

A New Yorker once declared that “Twitter” had “struck Terror into a whole Hierarchy.” He had no computer, no cellphone, and no online social media following. He was not a presidential candidate, but he would go on to sign the Constitution of the United States. So who was he? And what did he mean by “Twitter”?

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How to write a grant proposal

Whatever its scale or ambition, a grant proposal aims to do two things: to show that a particular project needs to be supported by a funder and to show why some individual, group or organization is the right one—the best one—to carry out the project. Showing the “need” is largely an exercise in argumentative writing. It’s argumentative not in the hostile, red-faced, fist-shaking sense but in the classical sense of establishing a claim

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Social Work

Solution building for student success

Teachers, administrators, and school social workers also prepare for a fresh start with new students and ideas to engage in another year of educational and developmental learning. Unfortunately, as the school year progresses, the new beginning and excitement can give way to complacency, frustration, and sometimes hopelessness. The reality for students who are disengaged from school, as well as those who experience significant academic and behavioral issues, is a season of uncertainty, diminished expectations, and possibly serious life outcomes that are just beginning.

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Brexit and Article 50 negotiations: why the smart money might be on no deal

David Cameron famously got precious little from his pre-referendum attempts to negotiate a special position for the UK in relation to existing EU treaty obligations. This was despite almost certainly having held many more cards back then than UK negotiators will do when Article 50 is eventually invoked. In particular, he was still able to threaten that he would lead the Out campaign if he did not get what he wanted, whereas now that the vote to leave has happened that argument has been entirely neutralised.

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