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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Music schools respond to COVID-19 shutdown

Keeping Upbeat in Tough Times is the new motto for the San Francisco Community Music Center. The phrase sums up the school’s attitude toward the abrupt transition to online instruction that it had to make this spring, after local schools closed their doors because of a government-ordered mandate aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 […]

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Why the COVID-19 pandemic feels like a movie

I read there is a spike in streaming of the 2011 film Contagion by Steven Soderbergh. The film uses a made-up virus loosely modeled after a Nipah virus outbreak. Contagion opens with a black screen, and we hear a woman coughing. The fictional virus MEV-1 hits the brain (and not the lungs as in corona virus pandemics), and we […]

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A pandemic of boredom

It was just the two of them: on a raft, lost, floating off the coast of Africa—the lone survivors of a shipwreck. Years before, struck with stupendous boredom, Hymie Basteshaw decided to become boredom’s master. He read what others wrote about boredom, studied its physiology, and discovered its secrets in the wavering folds of human […]

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Intermittent fasting can help people in high-stress jobs

During times of crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak, citizens often rely on first responders to ensure their daily living remains largely unaffected. However, behind the scenes, people serving in high-stress occupations (i.e. soldiers, police officers, nurses, firefighters, etc.) are often plagued with lack of sleep, shift work, poor eating habits and lack of access […]

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How childhood trauma resurfaces during COVID-19

Children who are victims of bullying often suffer a sense of helplessness. They don’t know what to do during bullying episodes and they don’t really believe anything will change or anyone can intervene effectively. Children subjected to bullying say it makes them feel sick, afraid, and helpless. It can also lead to feelings of anxiety, […]

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The ethics of defeating COVID-19

Isolation, quarantine, cordon sanitaire, shelter in place, physical distancing.  These were unfamiliar words just a few weeks ago. Now, your life and the lives of many others may depend on them. Isolation is the separation of someone who has been identified as ill so that she cannot spread the disease to others. Isolation requires careful management to […]

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Denying climate change is hurting our health

In recent years, global environmental climate change has become a third rail in American culture, dividing us along political lines. The Republican party espouses a range of positions, from the denial of climate change (the earth is not getting warmer) to denial of our role in causing the problem (even if climate change exists, humans […]

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How austerity measures hurt the COVID-19 response

The 2008 global financial crash brought with it a series of aftereffects that are shaping how different nations face the current pandemic. Austerity politics took a firm hold across Europe and other countries whose economies were hard hit, with governments and financial institutions arguing that they were an unavoidable consequence of the crash. While many […]

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Six tips for teachers who see emotional abuse

The scars of emotional abuse are invisible, deep, and diverse; and unfortunately, emotional abuse likely impacts more students than we think. Emotionally abusive behavior broadly consists of criticism, degradation, rejection, or threat. Emotional abuse (also known as psychological maltreatment or verbal assault) can happen anywhere, both within and outside of families, and can refer to […]

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The process of dying during a pandemic

The process of dying – what happens during those days, months, even years before we die – has changed a great deal in recent decades. We live longer than our parents and grandparents, we die for different reasons, we are less likely to die at home, we receive astonishing treatments, and our dying costs more. […]

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Space for concern: Trump’s executive order on space resources

Among the bevy of executive actions undertaken by President Donald Trump during the COVID-19 crisis is, of all things, an executive order (issued on 6 April 2020) promoting the development of space resources, which states in part that: Americans should have the right to engage in commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer […]

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COVID-19 and employment law in the UK

The last couple of weeks have seen a raft of new legislation in the United Kingdom, hurriedly passed to deal urgently with the coronavirus situation. It has clearly been drafted quickly, with guidance that goes well beyond the legislation, and so this has led to some confusion as to what exactly the law now says. […]

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How we can equip ourselves against climate change

Earth Day highlights the need for climate action, but what role does human-caused climate change play in creating disasters? Science paints a nuanced picture, instructing us to focus on reducing vulnerabilities to weather and climate, irrespective of how the environment is changing. Starting with the basics, a disaster is a situation requiring outside help for […]

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What the Civil War can teach us about COVID-19

More than any crisis in recent memory, the coronavirus pandemic is changing how Americans understand time and imagine the future. Greater threats, like climate change, loom on the horizon, but they haven’t transformed time, because slower perils do not disrupt life and shutter society like COVID-19. During this crisis, familiar rhythms that structure time seem […]

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Eight rules for teaching during COVID-19

At 10:50 a.m. recently, I was all set to teach my Theory II class. My I-Pad was charged. I had the links queued up to the textbook for screen share, and I had already created several videos explaining the concepts. When the 11:00 a.m. hour arrived and only two students were visible on Zoom, my […]

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