Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The language of strategic planning

My university just completed a round of strategic planning, its periodic cycle of self-evaluation, redefinition, and goal setting. Many of my colleagues were excited about the opportunity to define the future. Others were somewhat jaded, seeing such plans as bookshelf documents to be endured until the next planning cycle. Still others were agnostics, happy to see us have a good strategic plan but determined not to let it get in their way.

Read More

Artificial intelligence in oncology

There is no denying the presence of computers in our everyday life, whether it’s through phones, personal virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, or video games. Lately, the interest and development surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) has escalated, and the opportunities to embrace this within the healthcare industry seem to be growing.

Read More

Female first: aerial women in mythology, pop culture, and beyond

The sacred is where you find it. We would be foolish to ignore human awe in contemplating the eternal stability of the night sky and envy for the flight of birds that seemed to fly between the earthly, somewhat troublesome world of constant change, and what appeared to be eternal heavenly realms. The ancient depictions of winged females, and not winged males, suggest women were perceived as having some special power that men did not.

Read More

What is allowed in outer space?

Humanity is no longer just exploring outer space for the sake of leaving flags and footprints. On February 6, the SpaceX Corporation conducted a successful first flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket, capable of carrying 63,800 kg (140,700 lb) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), a capability not seen since the Apollo era. As the rocket’s reusable stages can be refueled and reflown, this rocket is a significant innovation and not merely a return to past capabilities.

Read More

Collaboration for a cure: harnessing the power of patient data

I am a classic example of a fitness fanatic who uses a wearable device to count my steps, measure my heart rate, and track my sleep pattern. Every day, I am armed with data gathered about my physical activity, alerting me as to whether I’ve been slacking in the gym or eating too many bags of crisps. There is no doubt that now, more than ever, we live in a world where ‘big data’ is ubiquitous in influencing our daily decisions.

Read More

Is there a gender bias in teaching evaluations?

Why are there so few female professors? Despite the fact that the fraction of women enrolling in graduate programs has increased over the last decades, the proportion of women who continue their careers in academia remains low. One explanation that could explain these gender disparities are gender-biased teaching evaluations. Outcomes of teaching evaluations affect hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions.

Read More

The unexpected role of nature at Amiens Cathedral [slideshow]

Medieval church designers drew on nature in surprising and innovative ways. Organic forms appear in unexpected places, framing the portals that provide access to sanctified spaces, punctuating interior walls and supports, and hanging from the vaults that soar above the beholder. These foliate sculptures are often characterized as mere ornamentation, devoid of meaning or purpose.

Read More

Brain tumour awareness: The end counts too

Here in the United Kingdom, we have the worst survival rates for brain cancer in Europe, with just 14% of patients surviving for ten or more years. Whilst prognosis for most other types of cancer has improved, brain tumour survival rates have remained stagnant, with no game-changing new drugs being developed in the last fifty years. As brain tumours progress, the aggressive nature of the disease becomes apparent.

Read More

Etymology gleanings March 2018

One of the questions I received was about dent, indent, and indenture. What do they have in common with dent- “tooth,” as in dental and dentures? Dent, which surfaced in texts in the 13th century, meant “stroke, blow” (a noun; obviously, not a derivative of any Latin word for “tooth”) and has plausibly been explained as a variant of its full synonym or doublet dint.

Read More

Misconceptions of vaccines

Vaccines help to provide immunity against diseases. Sadly, there are a number of misconceptions surrounding vaccines, leading to some areas of the community opting not to vaccinate. This has a negative impact as decreasing immunisation rates can lead to an increase in diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, as was seen with the whooping cough in California.

Read More
Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Aftering critical theory: reimagining civil “religion”

Why haven’t the insights of critical theory been more widely incorporated into the work of religious studies scholars in particular, and humanists more generally? Conversely, why have critical theorists missed the cross-cultural patterns of signification that have shaped post-tribal hierarchies for millennia, when they are so adept at finding hidden epistemological linkages within western political hegemonies?

Read More

An interview with March Mammal Madness founder Dr. Katie Hinde

March Mammal Madness was created by Dr. Katie Hinde of Arizona State University and is a program which presents a bracket of 64 species of animals. Participants use scientific research to predict which species would win in a face-off. Virtual “battles” between contenders are then narrated on Twitter using scientific research and an element of chance. The species are narrowed down and eventually one winner is declared.

Read More

The untold story of ordinary black southerners’ litigation during the Jim Crow era

Discover how Henry Buie, Moses Summerlin, Lurena Roebuck, and almost a thousand other black soutnerners managed to successfully litigate civil cases against white southerners throughout the 85 years following the Civil War. Many different tactics needed to be deployed during this period of injustice, and in a system where those in power often had very different interests and perspectives than their own.

Read More

Opportunity recognition: the heart of entrepreneurial thinking

With the 2018 Winter Olympics over, I’m reminded of one of the key traits all entrepreneurs possess and all would-be entrepreneurs must develop: the ability to recognize opportunities. You see, one of my favorite Olympic sports is bobsledding. I love the speed and excitement, the precision with which the sleds must be steered to gain the most speed—but also avoid disaster. I’m also fascinated by the tracks themselves.

Read More

How our financial system has gotten out of control [excerpt]

Capitalism has been a key force behind human progress for centuries. But as the power of the finance sector has grown, public interests have been sidelined, and human rights concerns have been ignored. The following shortened excerpt from Necessary Evil takes a look at how the finance sector has repeatedly failed to advance the human condition, and why its level of political influence is dangerous for humanity.

Read More