Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

How strategists are improving team decision-making processes

How companies and teams make decisions can be very challenging. Poor or ill-structured decision-making processes can make the organization less successful and create destructive conflicts in decision-making teams. But there are a few strategies companies can try that help organizations make big decisions in a better way. People operate in complex and dynamic environments, making […]

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How emotions affect the stock market

Last year marked the 90th anniversary of Black Thursday, the October day in 1929 when stocks stopped gradually falling, as they had since the start of September, and started wildly crashing. All told, the Dow Jones dropped from 327 at the opening of trading on the morning of Tuesday, 22 October to 230 at the close […]

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Governments should tackle air pollution by banning old cars

Air pollution continues to be a serious problem in many cities around the world in part because of a steady increase in car use. In an effort to contain such a trend and persuade drivers to give up their cars in favor of public transport, authorities increasingly rely on limits to car use. Some places […]

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Seven women who changed social work forever

We celebrate National Professional Social Work Month each March. The theme for Social Work Month in 2020 is Generations Strong. This is a great opportunity to look at the lives of pivotal figures in the history of social work and social welfare. The seven women discussed below made important contributions to people’s lives and to social […]

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Why cost-benefit analysis is flawed and how to improve it

Cost-benefit analysis is a key component of the US regulatory state. How it works and the function it plays in policymaking is not widely understood, however. Even the most substantive media outlets rarely discuss it. But cost-benefit analysis is a linchpin of the regulatory process. Its structure and role—and its flaws—should therefore be grist for […]

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Seven books on the fascinating human brain [reading list]

The human brain is often described as the most complex object in the known universe – we know so much, and yet so little, about the way it works. It’s no wonder then that the study of brain today encompasses an enormous range of topics, from abstract understanding of consciousness to microscopic exploration of billions of neurons. […]

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Why Iran’s dependence on China puts it at risk

The depth of ties between China and Iran was revealed dramatically in late February 2020, when news broke that some of Tehran’s most senior officials had contracted the coronavirus. By early March, one of Iran’s vice presidents, the deputy health minister, and 23 members of parliament were reported ill. A member of the 45-person Expediency […]

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What is the place of human beings in the world

Philosophers disagree on what philosophy is supposed to do, but one popular candidate for what is part of the philosophical project is to try to understand the place of human beings in the world. What is our significance in the world as whole? What place do human beings have in the universe and in all of […]

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How air pollution may lead to Alzheimer’s disease

Air pollution harms billions of people worldwide. Pollutants are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, and forest fires so they are found everywhere. One of the most dangerous of these, fine particulate matter, is 20 to 30 times smaller than a strand of human hair. Their tiny […]

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What good writers do

In his novel Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez writes: Florentino Ariza moved through every post during thirty years of dedication and tenacity in the face of every trial. He fulfilled all his duties with admirable skill … but he never won the honour he most desired, which was to write one, just […]

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Lessons for the coronavirus from the 1899 Honolulu plague

Public health officials all over the United States—indeed globally—are trying to decide how to deal with the world’s coronavirus pandemic.   They know the coronavirus originated in China, and they know they can identify it with certainty.  But they do not know what might kill it, and they have no cure for anyone who contracts […]

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Learning microbiology through comics

What do most people know about microbes? We know that they are tiny creatures that can attack us, causing illness, and kill us. Recent outbreaks such as measles and the Wuhan coronavirus are discussed in the media heavily.

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Why we like a good robot story

We have been telling stories about machines with minds for almost three thousand years. In the Iliad, written around 800 BCE, Homer describes the oldest known AI: “golden handmaidens” created by Hephaestus, the disabled god of metalworking. They “seemed like living maidens” with “intelligence… voice and vigour”, and “bustled about supporting their master.” In the Odyssey, Homer […]

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Some of our tools: “awl”

The names of weapons, tools, and all kinds of appurtenances provide a rare insight into the history of civilization. Soldiers and journeymen travel from land to land, and the names of their instruments, whether murderous or peaceful, become so called migratory words (Wanderwörter, as they are called in German: words errant, as it were). I […]

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Let people change their minds

Everyone does it. Some people do it several times a day. Others, weekly, monthly, or even just a few times in their lives. We would be suspicious, and rightly so, of someone who claimed never to have done it. Some have even become famous for doing it. Making a public show of it can make […]

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