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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Social Sciences

The current conflict between Spain and Catalonia explained

Spain is a state split into autonomous communities, three of which—Catalonia, Galicia, and Basque Country—are denominated historic communities, having their own languages that coexist co-officially with Castilian, the official language of Spain. All the autonomous communities in Spain have their Statutes of Autonomy, the basic institutional legislation for an autonomous community, recognized by the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

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Marketing-driven government (Part 1)

Marketing is an approach to social programme design and delivery that should underpin how governments and not-for-profit agencies develop and select policy, shape how services are delivered, and build sustained partnerships with citizens and other stakeholder organisations. However, marketing is a very often misunderstood and misapplied within Government

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How do we decide whom to rely on?: A Q&A with Mario L. Small

When people are facing difficulties, they often feel the need for a confidant-a person to vent to or a sympathetic ear with whom to talk things through. How do they decide on whom to rely? In theory, the answer seems obvious. In practice, what people actually do often belies these expectations.We sat down with Mario L. Small, to answer some key questions into how we decide whom to rely on and social networks.

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What brought down the coal industry and will its recent recovery last?

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Donald Trump ran for office on a platform that included supporting the coal industry. His open embrace of coal mining gave hope to an industry that has experienced a steady decline in production and jobs since the mid-2000s. In 2016, coal production reached its lowest point since 1978, when the US population was only 70% of what it is today.

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Bullying beyond the schoolyard

When you stretch a rubber band, even after many times, it will likely return to its original form. We call this resilience. When children are stretched and bent out of shape due to bad experiences they encounter, we expect they will be resilient too and snap back to their previous self. However, after various types of difficult or traumatic interactions, children are not the same. The analogy of the rubber band does not hold up.

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What is the land question in India today?

Land in the process of development can be viewed as a commodity, and like other commodities, can be bought and sold. Such a transformation presupposes that land historically was not a commodity. Peasant cultivators eked out a subsistent lifestyle and feudal lords taxed the peasants. Property rights as we know it did not exist then. Land was not owned, sold, or bought.

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The reign of law in international investment decision-making

The second Investment Claims Summer Academy took place on 6-7 July 2017 at Lady Margaret Hall and focused on the role of international law in international investment decision-making. The Summer Academy opened with a quote from Sir Hersch Lauterpacht’s 1933 The Function of Law in International the International Community:

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Climate change: a call for government intervention [video]

“The world is facing a catastrophe.” It is too late for individuals to make a significant difference in the preservation of ice caps. At the current rate of global warming, government intervention is needed. In the following video and excerpt from A Farewell to Ice, Peter Wadhams, one of the world’s leading experts on polar ice, discusses the role that governments around the world need to play in order to combat global warming.

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Not finding Bigfoot

The Renaissance is remembered as a time of renewed interest in scientific investigation, yet it also brought a huge increase in sightings of fantastic creatures such as mermaids and sea serpents. One explanation for this apparent paradox is that the revival of classical art and literature inspired explorers to look for the creatures of Greco-Roman mythology. Another reason was the expansion of trade. Cryptids, fantastic creatures that elude established terms of description, tend to arise on the boundary of two or more cultures.

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Divali in the White House?

When Barack Obama became the first U.S. President to celebrate Divali in the White House in 2009, he sent a message to South Asian Americans that they are a part of the American national narrative. His actions were not only about lighting lamps and the remembrance of Indic myths, but they were also about the […]

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7 financial tips and facts

For most, October marks the beginning of autumn, Halloween celebrating, and preparation for the holiday season. However, what some might not realize is that October is also Financial Planning Month. Financial planning and budgeting can be a difficult, confusing area. In honor of Financial Planning Month, we decided to outline facts to provide some insight and tips on budgeting, investing, and retirement.

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Balancing compassion and self-care in a troubled world

Originating from the Latin “compatī,” (to suffer together), compassion can lead to a greater understanding of human suffering. However, the vulnerability that comes along with compassion can often lead to increased feelings of stress and anxiety. In the video below, psychologist Robert J. Wicks describes the consequences of inordinate compassion.

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Light pollution: absent information in risk communication

Lights, lights everywhere, but what about the risks of light pollution? The world has experienced an unprecedented environmental change during the past century as the electric light has permeated our nights. In the near future, this change may accelerate because of increasing use of new illumination technologies such as LED lights. In most parts of urbanized world the disappearance of natural darkness is easy to observe even with bare eyes.

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How Oscar Wilde’s life imitates his art

The idea that life imitates art is one of Oscar’s best yet most often misunderstood. It is central to his philosophy and to his own life. Take The Decay of Lying, for example, an essay in the form of a dialogue that he wrote in the late 1880s. What did he call the interlocutors? Why Cyril and Vyvyan, the names of his two young sons, of course. But the piece’s intellectual party really gets started when Wilde has his learned young gentlemen interview each other. Naturally, what is uppermost in their minds is the relationship between life and art.

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The point of depression

There has been a great deal of speculation about the evolutionary significance and origins of depression. What selective advantage does it confer? Does it allow the patient to concentrate on complex and important problems? Is it a type of pain that, like physical pain, causes us to pull back from danger? Is it a type of behavioral quarantine, causing us to hole up in a safe place while dangers stalk around outside?

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When our tribes become bullies

Tribalism’s slide into bullying has become seemingly pervasive. We’ve all seen how it contaminates schools, sports, and work. In all of these collective institutions there is a drive to form tribes—often motivated by a desire for constructive kinship, but just as frequently for purposes of control, and exclusion. The change begins at home with parents who understand that hate causes violence.

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