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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Social Sciences

Becoming a Critical Thinker by Sarah Birrell Ivory

Do you feel sorry for first year university students?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Said by Dickens many years ago but with eerie relevance to our current situation. The global pandemic is itself an overwhelming health tragedy. Moreover, it has laid bare so many other local, national, and global issues that have been simmering beneath the surface. […]

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The Puzzle of Prison Order by David Skarbek

Smaller prisons are smarter

There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that the United States incarcerates far too many people and that this has tragic and unjust consequences that fall disproportionately on disadvantaged socioeconomic and minority communities. Yet, not only do we lock up too many people, but all too often they are incarcerated in prisons that […]

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Campus activists show us how to end gender-based violence

Protest and resistance thrive proudly on many university campuses. In recent history, students and faculty have organized to protest the Vietnam war in the United States, recognize the occupation of Tiananmen Square in China, resist capitalism in France, and react to many other injustices. More recently, activism to decolonise SOAS in the United Kingdom, to […]

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Meaningful Inefficiencies

Rebuilding better: designing the future of cities and governance

In city and town meetings throughout the United States, “we need to rebuild better” has become a common refrain from progressive political leaders to communicate their response to COVID-19 and the subsequent demands for racial justice. It is shorthand for the urgency of economic recovery while acknowledging the reality of structural inequities. The pandemic’s indiscriminate […]

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Urban Studies, city life, and COVID-19 [podcast]

Oxford Bibliographies celebrates its 10th anniversary this year; in a decade, OBO has grown from 10 subject areas to over 40, and this fall will see the introduction of a new subject area that is highly relevant to our COVID-19-afflicted times: Oxford Bibliographies in Urban Studies.

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Addressing racism within academia: a Q&A with UNC-Chapel Hill PhD of Social Work Students

Anderson Al Wazni is a white Muslim woman, Stefani Baca-Atlas is a US-born Latina, and Melissa Jenkins is a biracial Black woman; all three women are doctoral students. They experience the world in different ways and have worked together to share their perspectives on challenges and opportunities for non-Black students with marginalized statuses to work […]

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How emerging adults can manage the uncertainty of the future [reading list]

Jeffrey Arnett describes emerging adulthood as a distinct stage of development from the late teens through the twenties; a life stage in which explorations and instability are the norm. As they focus on their self-development, emerging adults feel in-between, on the way to adulthood but not there yet. Nevertheless, they have a high level of optimism […]

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Winston Churchill and the media in the 1945 British general election

Seventy-five years ago this week, the House of Commons in Britain began debating the legislative programme of Clement Attlee’s Labour government, elected by a landslide at the end of the previous month. John Freeman, one of the fresh intake of socialist MPs, declared boldly: “Today, we go into action. Today may rightly be regarded as […]

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Cyntoia Brown and the legacy of racism for children in the legal system

In 2004, 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown shot and killed a man who paid her for sex – a position she was forced into by an older man who took advantage of her. Brown never denied shooting the man (in fact, she was the one who called the police the next day), but she claimed it was […]

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How to prepare students for jobs in the 21st century

A common goal for educators is to identify, and then teach, cognitive skills that are needed for the workplace. In 2017 a group of investigators at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey, investigated which skills are needed as a result of the rapid changes occurring as the United States shifted from an industrial […]

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How summer camps adapted to COVID-19 (and everything else)

The ballfields are quiet. The lake is placid. The bunks/cabins are empty without towels and bathing suits hung out to dry. For summer camps, this summer season has been rife with challenges, including the difficult decision not to open. But challenge and change are not new to camps. Over the past century, camps have adapted […]

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Five books related to power and inequality at work [reading list]

What is it like to work in the 21st century? Which factors influence our careers? Are there equal opportunities in society today? With a focus on technological advancements, both at home and at work, is reliance on technology beneficial for both employees and employers? Are workplaces using technology to exercise greater levels of control? Will the […]

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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 conflicts 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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