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  • Social Sciences

The technocratic politics of the American right

Conservatives today often present themselves as populists running against a left said to be out of touch with the common people and enamored of technocratic rule by experts. This is, in fact, a longstanding critique found not only in grassroots ideological discourse but also in the work of conservative philosophers like Michael Oakeshott, who suggested that the left was […]

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Smartphones are pacifiers for tough times

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated consumers’ reliance on new technologies in almost all aspects of their lives, from how they shop, to how they work, to how they communicate with colleagues and loved ones. While a number of technologies have played an important role in this transformation—such as the growth of reliance on video conferencing—among […]

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It’s cheaper to preserve the Amazon than we might think

“The cattle need ladders to graze here.” That is what my wife’s relatives used to tell her after they moved to the Amazon rainforest. She visited their farm when she was 13, and the planted grass was taller than she was. Grass grows tall there because of the substantial amount of nutrients left on the […]

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How water wars hurt marginalized populations

There are 286 international transboundary river basins that are shared by 151 countries. These basins are the source for water as well as livelihoods to 2.8 billion people. In many of these places the already vulnerable and marginalised are at great risk due to problems managing water. Sudden, sharp changes in these basins are not […]

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Writing a non-fiction historical thriller

The distinguished biographer, Ben Pimlott, used to say that historians should try to write like novelists. To my knowledge, he never developed the thought, but what he meant was clear. While the historical monograph may make a significant contribution to knowledge, too often it is boring to read. He wanted us to deploy the skills […]

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Charles Darwin’s five-year journey [timeline]

Charles Darwin is most known for his journey to the Galapagos Islands, and for the work he published around the theory of evolution, The Origin of Species, as a result of that trip. And though his time in the Galapagos was vital to Darwin’s work, he also visited many other places, a small selection of […]

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What the United States can learn from Portuguese politics

Donald Trump’s Independence Day attack on the culture of inclusion and equality highlights a problem long with us. Far from being united by principles enshrined in the country’s origins, America has long suffered deep discord over what lessons to draw from the nation’s history and how to tell the story of our past. Conflict over the treatment of […]

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What face masks and sex scandals have in common

While Donald Trump’s legacy will be marked by many things, we can add to the list his resistance to wearing a face mask in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which up until recently he had not done in public. The overt reason for his hesitancy to follow this mainstream medical advice is that Trump […]

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How COVID-19 could help social science researchers

The US passed 2.5 million Covid-19 cases, there are more than 10 million confirmed cases worldwide, and global deaths passed 500,000 at the end of June. We face unprecedented challenges during this global pandemic and we may see profound and permanent changes to how we do things. Surveys and digital trace data have been used […]

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How companies can use social media to plan for the future

Many organisations use scenario planning to explore uncertainties in their future operating environments and develop new strategies. Scenario planning is a structured method for imagining possible futures based on the identification of key uncertainties in the external environment, and it may involve a variety of stakeholder groups from inside and outside the main organisation, including […]

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How governments can promote real diversity

As with most of contemporary life, the pandemic has magnified the impacts of unequal access to technologically innovative employment on livelihoods. The COVID-19 digital divide has meant that some people continue to safely work and earn from home, while others are forced to decide whether to endure physical risk in order to get to work, […]

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Social needs are a human right

In April 2020, an ER physician in Toronto, Ari Greenwald, started an online petition to bring tablets and phones to his patients in hospital, because hospitals had imposed strict No Visitor rules to limit the spread of COVID-19. Greenwald said that, “As challenging as this COVID-era of healthcare is for us all, the hardest part […]

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Why are there different welfare states in the Middle East and North Africa

Most political regimes in the Middle East and North Africa are non-democratic, but the lived reality of authoritarian rule differs widely across countries. This difference is particularly apparent when it comes to social policies. While resource-abundant, labour-scarce regimes in the Arab Gulf have all established generous welfare regimes, the picture among labour-abundant regimes in the […]

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Why big protests aren’t a good measure of popular power

The recent wave of protests of the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States and around the world has opened up a space of political possibility for proposals, like disbanding abusive police departments, which seemed radical and utopian only weeks earlier. In the broad sweep of history, a similar process has been seen time […]

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The history of Canada Day

Because they raise difficult questions about who we are and who we want to be, national holidays are contested. Can a single day ever contain the diversity and the contradictions inherent in a nation? Is there even a “we” and an “us”? Canada Day is no exception. Celebrated on 1 July, it marks the anniversary […]

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