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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The in-depth selfie: discussing selfies through an academic lens

Looking at oneself is a timeless concept. We are constantly trying to figure out how to represent ourselves in our own brains . . . confusing certainly. In honor of Oxford Dictionaries’s 2013 word of the year — “selfie” — University of Southern California professors pay homage by discussing selfies through the lens of letters, arts, and sciences. They analyse the selfie trend through the perspectives of sociology, gender studies, religion, anthropology, and more. Watch their video below and learn how profound a camera flash and puckered mouth can be.

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How well do you know short stories?

By Maggie Belnap
Short stories populate many childhoods, trying to instill morals and virtues in undeveloped and wandering minds. Whether it’s the tale of Rumpelstiltskin or the boy who cried wolf, these tales make a powerful impression. Check out the short story quiz and see if you really know your short stories.

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Cybersecurity and the cyber-awareness gap

“‘There’s probably no issue that’s become more crucial, more rapidly, but is less understood, than cybersecurity,’ warns cyber expert P.W. Singer, co-author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know. Cybersecurity has quickly become one of the most defining challenges of our generation, and yet, as the threat of cyber-terrorism looms, there remains an alarming “cyber-awareness gap” that renders the many of us vulnerable.

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Splash! What kids discover in a puddle

It’s spring and about this time each year, a little ritual takes place. After the winter melt, many children encounter their first puddle with the zeal of an explorer discovering a new land.

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What is English?

What is English? Ask any speaker of English, and the answer you get may be “it’s what the dictionary says it is.” Or, “it’s what I speak.” Answers like these work well enough up to a point, but the words that make it in the dictionary are not always the words we hear being used around us.

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Verdun: the longest battle of the Great War

The battle of Verdun began on 21 February 1916. It did not end until December of that year. It was a place of no advance and no retreat, where national resources continued to pour in, extending the slaughter indefinitely. Paul Jankowski, leading French historian and author of Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War, examines Verdun in a new, unique way, using both French and German sources with equal weight.

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An illustrated history of the First World War

A hundred years on, the First World War still shapes the world in which we live. Its legacy survives in poetry, in prose, in collective memory, and in political culture. By the time the war ended in 1918, millions had died. Three major empires – Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottomans – lay shattered by defeat. A fourth, Russia, was in the throes of a revolution that helped define the rest of the century.

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Reflections on World War I

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, we’re taking a look back at the momentous event that forever changed the course of world history. Here Sir Hew Strachan, editor of The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, examines the various important issues we can learn from commemorating the Great War and how perspectives on the war have shifted and changed over the last 100 years.

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Catechetical session comparisons [infographic]

In his study, sociologist David Yamane found an interesting correlation between the type of catechetical sessions used in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process (which an adult who wants to enter the Catholic Church undergoes) and the socioeconomic standing (SES).

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Is the planet full?

Is the planet full? Can the world continue to support a growing population estimated to reach 10 billion people by the middle of the century? And how can we harness the benefits of a healthier, wealthier and longer-living population?

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ASIL/ILA 2014 retrospective

In early April, the American Society of International Law and the International Law Association held a joint conference around the theme “The Effectiveness of International Law.” We may not have been able to do everything on our wishlist, but there are plenty of round-ups to catch up on all the news and events.

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The viability of Transcendence: the science behind the film

In the trailer of Transcendence, an authoritative professor embodied by Johnny Depp says that “the path to building superintelligence requires us to unlock the most fundamental secrets of the universe.” It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the possibility of artificial intelligence and how it will affect society. 

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Emerging adult Catholic types [infographic]

In their National Study of Youth and Religion, Christian Smith, Kyle Longest, Jonathan Hill, and Kari Christoffersen studied a sample of young people for five years, starting when they were 13 to 17 years old and completing the study when they were 18 to 23, a stage called “emerging adulthood.”

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