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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

IAFFAI

Biotechnology: the Pentagon’s next big thing

Biotechnology has long been an important field of scientific research. But until recently, it has never been formally considered by any military as a significant technological investment opportunity, or a technology that could revolutionize the conduct of war.

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International Affairs

When female peacekeepers’ “added value” becomes an “added burden”

Calls for the increased participation of uniformed United Nations female peacekeepers have multiplied in recent years, fueled in part by new scandals of peacekeepers’ sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA), tarnishing the UN’s reputation, and in part by the will to show explicit progress at the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

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Parliamentary Affairs

What can the Conservatives’ 2019 election win tell us about their current leadership?

It’s an old truism that a week is a long time in politics, which would probably make 11 months an absolute age during even the most halcyon times. So, reflecting on the lessons to be drawn from the victory of the Conservative Party in the 2019 general election does rather feel like a job for ancient historians rather than political scientists. But there remains much that we can learn from the recent past…

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When deterrence doesn’t work

No one likes to be threatened, and yet we threaten and are threatened all the time. From animal self-defence to how we raise our children, from religious teaching to gun ownership, capital punishment and nuclear deterrence, threat is an ever-present tool employed to influence an often-unpredictable external environment. But does it always work? And what are the consequences when it doesn’t?

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Visual and Multimodal Communication: Applying the Relevance Principle

Rooting chimp communication in relevance theory

The key assumption of Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson’s relevance theory is that every act of communication comes with the promise (not the guarantee!) of being optimally relevant to its envisaged audience. Sperber and Wilson’s examples typically pertain to spoken face-to-face exchanges between two individuals: speaking Mary and listening Peter. A message gains in relevance for […]

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The Human Gene Editing Debate

The slippery slope of the human gene editing debate

The ethical debate about what is now called “human gene editing” (HGE) began sixty years ago. At the time, eugenicist scientists wanted to use new knowledge about the structure of DNA to modify humans—to perfect the human species by making us more healthy, musical, intelligent, and generally virtuous. A consensus later formed that gene editing […]

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The Tough Standard by Ronald Levant and Shana Pryor

The role of masculinity in reforming police departments

For decades there have been murders of unarmed black people by the police, which in recent years has been exposed and protested by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This summer, unprecedented numbers of protesters have voiced their outrage in response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the very recent and utterly senseless shooting of […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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