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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Orangutans as forest engineers

Orangutans quite literally are “persons of the forest,” at least according to their Malay name (orang means “person” and hutan is “forest”). But this is more than just a name. As well as their distinctively “human” qualities, these large charismatic fruit-eaters are also gardeners, forest engineers responsible for spreading and maintaining a wide array of tree species.

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Global health as a social movement: Q&A with Dr. Joia Mukherjee

What is social entrepreneurship? In essence, it’s about using the tools of entrepreneurship—opportunity, resourcefulness, innovation—to address stubborn social and environmental problems. A defining feature of social entrepreneurship is the concept of systemic change; that is, change that addresses the underlying social, political, and economic forces that conspire to exclude the poor and marginalised from the opportunities that many of us take for granted.

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Securing the future of the Male Voice Choir

During a ‘question and answer’ session at a recent music convention, four contemporary composers of choral music faced a plethora of musicians from all types of backgrounds and traditions. Amongst a selection of interesting and searching questions asked, one brought an eerie silence to the room. The question was: ‘Would you consider writing for a male choir?’

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Law Teacher of the Year announced at the Celebrating Excellence in Law Teaching conference

Oxford University Press hosted its annual Celebrating Excellence in Law Teaching Conference at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool on 20 June. Playing a central role at the conference were the six Law Teacher of the Year Award finalists. Delegates learned what it was that makes them such exceptional teachers, and heard first–hand about their teaching methods, motivations, and philosophies. The conference concluded with current Law Teacher of the Year, Nick Clapham of the University of Surrey, naming Lydia Bleasdale of the University of Leeds as this year’s winner.

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Numbers and historical linguistics: a match made in heaven?

Whatever you associate with the term “historical linguistics,” chances are that it will not be numbers or computer algorithms. This would perhaps not be surprising were it not for the fact that linguistics in general has seen increasing use of exactly such quantitative methods. Historical linguistics tends to use statistical testing and quantitative arguments less than linguistics generally. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

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Holographic hallucinations, reality hacking, and Jedi battles in London

In 1977, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope captivated audiences with stunning multisensory special effects and science-fiction storytelling. The original Star Wars trilogy sent shockwaves of excitement through popular culture that would resonate for years to come. Beyond the films themselves, the Star Wars universe extended into a wider sphere of cultural artefacts such as toys, books and comics, which allowed audiences to recreate and extend the stories.

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The Oxford Etymologist waxes emotional: a few rambling remarks on fear

It is well-known that words for abstract concepts at one time designated concrete things or actions. “Love,” “hatred,” “fear,” and the rest developed from much more tangible notions.  The words anger, anguish, and anxious provide convincing examples of this trend. All three are borrowings in English: the first from Scandinavian, the second from French, and the third from Latin. In Old Norse (that is, in Old Icelandic), angr and angra meant “to grieve” and “grief” respectively.

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Refugees, citizens, and camps: a very British history

Today, very few people think of Britain as a land of camps. Instead, camps seem to happen “elsewhere,” from Greece to Palestine to the global South. Yet during the 20th century, dozens of camps in Britain housed tens of thousands of Belgians, Jews, Basques, Poles, Hungarians, Anglo-Egyptians, Ugandan Asians, and Vietnamese.

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How nations finance themselves matters

To understand how nations should finance themselves it is fruitful to look at how corporations finance themselves, how they divide their financing between debt and equity. Corporations typically issue equity when they need financing for a new profitable investment opportunity, when their shares are overvalued by the stock market, or when they need to raise funds to service their debt obligations.

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The evisceration of storytelling

In his seminal essay “The Storyteller,” published in 1936, the German philosopher Walter Benjamin decried the loss of the craft of oral storytelling marked by the advent of the short story and the novel. Modern society, he lamented, had abbreviated storytelling. Fast forward to the era of Facebook, where the story has become an easily digestible soundbite on your news feed or timeline.. Complexity is eschewed,

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How deaf education and artificial language were linked in the 17th century

Before the 1550s, it was generally believed that people who are born deaf are incapable of learning a natural language such as Spanish or English. This belief was nourished by the observation that hearing children normally acquire their speaking skills without explicit instruction, and that learning to read usually proceeds by first connecting individual letters to individual speech sounds, pronouncing them one by one, before a whole word is read and understood.

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The 2018 classics book club at Bryant Park Reading Room

Oxford University Press has once again teamed up with the Bryant Park Reading Room on their summer literary series. The Bryant Park Reading Room was first established in 1935 by the New York Public Library as a refuge for the thousands of unemployed New Yorkers during the Great Depression.

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Why are there so many different scripts in East Asia?

You don’t have to learn a new script when you learn Norwegian, Czech, or Portuguese, let alone French, so why does every East Asian language require you to learn a new script as well? In Europe the Roman script of Latin became standard, and it was never seriously challenged by runes or by the Greek, Cyrillic, or Glagolitic (an early Slavic script) alphabets.

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Why consumers forget unethical business practices

Imagine a consumer, Kate, who enjoys shopping for fashionable clothing, but who also cares about whether her clothing is produced ethically. She reads an article online indicating that fashion giant Zara sells clothing made by allegedly unpaid workers, but a few days later ends up buying a new shirt from Zara. She either forgets that Zara may be mistreating workers, or she mistakenly recalls that they are one of the brands that have agreed to a strict code of ethical labor practices, including paying a living wage to all workers.

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