Social Sciences and Humanities
The teaching of literacy and reading comprehension is among the most fundamental pillars of education. Dr. Patricia Edwards of Michigan State University is an internationally recognized leader in this field. By drawing on a lifetime experience teaching her community and students how to read, Dr. Edwards has advanced not only educational practice but also social justice and civil rights. We look here at how her inspiring work continues to enrich communities around the world.
Dr Athos Agapiou | Dr Vasiliki Lysandrou | Dr Nicholas Kyriakides – New Tools for Probing Ancient Cypriot Architecture and Landscape
Archaeology provides a lens through which we can learn about cultures of the past. It can involve approaches from the fields of engineering and humanities. New advances in image processing allow fascinating new insights to be gleaned from archived aerial images, and studies of both new and ancient seismic events are giving us a new understanding of the ancient world and how to preserve what remains. Dr Athos Agapiou, Dr Vasiliki Lysandrou, and Dr Nicholas Kyriakides, all from the Cyprus University of Technology, are embracing this blend of scientific fields in Cyprus in their fascinating investigations of ancient tombs.
The 2016 Presidential election in America sparked an increased interest in alternative-right (‘alt-right’) ideology, which depicts white individuals in the country as victims who are being discriminated against and deprived of their right to express racial pride. Dr Deena Isom, an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina, has conducted extensive research examining the biases and perceptions associated with this far-right ideological movement and how such concepts have a broader reach beyond this extremist group.
To face new challenges and societal changes, organisations must be able to adapt their practices swiftly and effectively. But all too often, efforts to change organisations fail to achieve the desired results. Dr Michael Beer, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, devised a new approach to organisational change informed by his extensive experience as a researcher and management consultant. His approach centres on the development of honest, collective, and open conversations between senior management teams and key people below the top.
The ski industry currently faces a number of challenges, including climate change, falling demand and lift ticket prices. Dr Iveta Malasevska, a senior researcher at Eastern Norway Research Institute based at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, is collaborating with colleagues on a project called ‘Innovative Pricing Approaches in the Alpine Skiing Industry’. The team is examining pricing analytics at ski resorts in Norway intending to develop optimal pricing schemes to address the challenges faced by alpine ski resorts and improve their long-term financial performance.
Pets are loved and valued members of many households across America. Unfortunately, some owners opt to keep primates as pets – and this is not a good choice for either the primate or the owner. Dr. Melissa Seaboch and Sydney Cahoon of Salt Lake Community College in the USA are working to better understand the primate pet trade in the USA.
While international students are common at universities in the English-speaking world, it is unclear how much the language skills of these students and their ethno-racial backgrounds affect their educational and social experiences. Professor Kim McDonough from Concordia University, Canada, and Professor Masatoshi Sato from Universidad Andres Bello, Chile, conducted research with colleagues which resulted in some very surprising findings.
Consciousness is a vast and complex topic. Dr Birgitta Dresp-Langley, Research Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, takes a revolutionary and exciting new perspective in her reasoning on how consciousness came to be and how we can harness its power for a better world.
Dr Sharon Nelson-Barber | Infusing Mainstream STEM Education with Indigenous Culture, Language and Values
In the USA, approaches to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) instruction are aligned with English-speaking, White middle-class norms. STEM courses rarely reflect consideration for the unique backgrounds of Indigenous learners. Because of this devaluing of local cultural, linguistic, and community traditions, whole communities are left behind, resulting in learners’ exclusion from advanced educational and employment tracks. Dr Sharon Nelson-Barber, Director of Culture and Language in STEM Education at WestEd, aims to change this trajectory. She and her team explore the ways in which students’ cultural backgrounds influence how they learn STEM subjects. Based on the team’s findings, they have developed innovative STEM education and assessment methods that shift relationships between Indigenous ways of learning and Western educational practices.
Dr Kristiina A. Vogt | Dr Samantha De Abreu | Dr Maria Blancas – Indigenous Holistic Storytelling to Teach Environmental Science
Western approaches to environmental science typically focus on existing and future issues, such as climate change, and technological solutions to these issues. While these frameworks have their value, they often set aside holistic perspectives on land management, coexistence with nature, and ecosystem preservation. Dr Kristiina A. Vogt, Dr Samantha De Abreu and Dr Maria Blancas at the University of Washington are exploring the potential of holistic storytelling practices common among Indigenous communities to teach environmental science in more effective ways.
While a well-developed financial system can contribute to economic prosperity, if it grows too large or is inadequately regulated it may actually cause more harm than good – adversely affecting socio-economic outcomes and people’s wellbeing. This is one of the key conclusions of a recent survey of the literature in which we document the role of the financial system in society’s development. We find that the trend towards financialization, observed over the past four decades, has gradually transformed modern finance from ‘hero’ to ‘villain’.
Although there have been many recent studies investigating gender differences in business settings, the complex factors behind these differences remain poorly understood. Dr Jennifer E. Jennings, a Professor at the University of Alberta, has been conducting extensive research focusing on gender and entrepreneurship, to better understand the impact that an entrepreneur’s gender can have on their confidence, opportunities, leadership styles, organisational practices, and innovativeness. Her work sheds a new and informative light on the gendering of entrepreneurial activity.
Transferring water from one river basin to another is supposed to help us better manage our planet’s water resources. The South-North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP), an inter-basin water transfer effort in China, can transfer 25 billion cubic metres of water per year over long distances. Dr Michael J Webber of the University of Melbourne and his colleagues have been exploring the benefits and challenges of the SNWTP, to assess its socio-political, environmental, and economic impacts. His research aims to gain valuable insights about the politics of vast technologies, and how inter-basin water schemes might be managed.
Recent studies suggest that South Africa’s youth are less engaged in formal politics than earlier generations. Professor Elirea Bornman and her students at University of South Africa have recently investigated the opinions of youth on democratic institutions and the state of democracy in post-Apartheid South Africa. Their findings suggest that the apparent political disengagement and withdrawal from voting among young people is not necessarily associated with apathy or a lack of political opinions, but can reflect their lack of confidence in political processes and older generations of leaders.
Dr Alexandrina Agloro | Dr Shamsnaz Virani Bhada – HEART Collaboratory: Honouring Equity in Applied Research and Technology
Traditionally, research and technology development are top-down processes, which do not closely consider the needs of study participants or potential users. Dr Alexandrina Agloro at Arizona State University and Dr Shamsnaz Virani Bhada at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have recently created the HEART Collaboratory. This collaboration conducts community-based research that closely considers the needs, humanity and culture of all stakeholders and study participants.
Adjunct Professor Kerry Carrington | Women-led Police Stations Help to Prevent Gender-based Violence
To prevent violence against women, a few decades ago countries in Latin America started introducing women-led police stations to respond to incidents of gender violence. Kerry Carrington, an Adjunct Professor of the University of the Sunshine Coast, has conducted extensive studies investigating the impact and advantages of these women’s police stations. She hopes that her work will inspire governments in Australia and the global north to establish women-led stations on a large-scale.
Peter Breunig is a Professor of Archaeology at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. He has spent much of his recent career conducting in-depth analyses around the Nok culture, a prehistoric society based in central Nigeria. Much of his research has focused on uncovering the mystery surrounding elaborate terracotta sculptures, made by the Nok people over 2,500 years ago. Whilst there is much speculation around their purpose, Peter Breunig and his team have identified a spatial proximity to burial sites, indicating their usage in funeral rituals.
The Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) is an annual event held in Bangkok, at which humanitarian leaders and experts in various disciplines meet to discuss global challenges, including health crises and climate change. This year, the conference ran from the 25th to the 29th of January, featuring seven sessions with international speakers. The theme of PMAC 2022 was ‘The World We Want: Actions Towards a Sustainable, Fairer and Healthier Society’. This article highlights some of the main global issues and megatrends discussed at the conference.
Radio-frequency (RF) spectrum management is a crucial part of media and communications history, as it has shaped how people access information and communicate with others. Dr Jock Given, Professor at Swinburne University of Technology, has written numerous books and articles focusing on this topic. He combines ideas from economics, law, history, and business with his own experience as an economics researcher and policy advisor.
Dr Terry L. Mills | Dr J. K. Haynes – Increasing the Participation of African American Male Students in STEM
Despite recent efforts aimed at increasing diversity in STEM-related fields, many communities are still largely underrepresented in these disciplines, including African American students and professionals. Not only is this unfair on individuals who may ultimately miss out on rewarding STEM careers, but it also deprives the STEM workforce of talented minds, and the innovation that a more diverse community could achieve. Dr Terry L. Mills and Dr J. K. Haynes, two professors at Morehouse College in Atlanta, have created the John H. Hopps Jr. STEM Education Research Program, an academic intervention designed to increase the participation of African American men in STEM degrees.
The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) communities have a long history of exclusion and underrepresentation of women, African American, Latinx, American Indian and LGBTQIA+ students. In order for our STEM enterprise to be truly equitable, everyone that wants to become a scientist must have an equitable opportunity to do so, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. In the movement toward equity, the demographic diversity of the STEM workforce must mirror that of the general population. STEM workforce diversity can accelerate innovation in scientific disciplines, and, if coupled with systemic cultural equity, can also support a STEM enterprise where everyone can thrive. Dr Verónica A. Segarra, Interim Chair and Assistant Professor of Biology at High Point University, has been exploring how scientific societies could help their disciplines be more equitable. Her efforts have helped to establish numerous alliances and collaborations among societies and diversity-focused organisations, with the mission of building a more diverse and inclusive STEM workforce.
Professor Xiangming Chen – China’s Belt and Road Initiative: An Epochal Initiative Connecting the World
In 2013, the Chinese Government launched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive global infrastructure-building initiative, to increase trade by connecting cities within and across continents. The initiative is redefining globalisation, urbanisation, regionalism, and development. Professor Xiangming Chen has released a policy expo-book (sponsored by the Regional Studies Association) that traces out the changing economic, social, and spatial fortunes of the regions connected to the initiative. In this timely book, the author outlines a modern, fresh and factual account of an outward-looking China ushering in a new era of globalisation through a variety of widespread and far-reaching trans-boundary economic and infrastructure connectivities.
The main responsibility of recruitment consultants is to match individuals to jobs that best suit their professional experience, skills, capabilities, dispositions, and academic background. Dr Hui Xiong at Rutgers University has been leading efforts to develop tools based on artificial neural networks that can automatically identify the right individuals for specific roles. Over the past few years, he has led efforts to design a comprehensive intelligent HR management system that could bring significant intelligence in human resource management.
Like living organisms, human organisations have evolved throughout history, with new forms emerging and transforming in various settings. Examples include the coevolution of capitalism and state formation, and modern capitalism’s relationship with science. Professor John Padgett at the University of Chicago and Professor Walter Powell at Stanford University set out to discover how new firms, organisations, and institutions come to be. In a landmark book, a decade in the making, they appropriate ideas and concepts used to explain the origin of life, to help explain the emergence of new organisations and markets.
Statistics suggest that Hispanic, Black, and female entrepreneurs receive a disproportionately tiny portion of total venture capital funds in the United States. With this in mind, the National Science Foundation created the I-PERF program. I-PERF supports the professional development of research fellows from underserved groups, offering them hands-on experience within promising research and technology companies, with the goal of increasing diversity in the start-up and entrepreneurial landscape. The program is managed by Dr Teddy Ivanitzki, Rashida Johnson, Rachel Levitin and their colleagues at the American Society for Engineering Education.
Food insecurity directly impacts a third of the world’s population and perpetuates a cycle of hunger and malnutrition that is inherited through generations. Previous relief efforts have largely been donor-focused, providing only temporary solutions. To break the cycle of food insecurity, poverty, and hunger, relief efforts must empower communities and facilitate real transformative changes. Professor James Simon of Rutgers University and colleagues have developed a transferable horticulture model that builds upon local ecosystem knowledge and cultural infrastructures while embedding science-driven, market-first, and value chain methodologies. Introduced into several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the model includes agribusiness and technical skills training to strengthen the participation of farmers and local entrepreneurs, particularly women and youth, in profitable value chains. Using this novel approach, the Rutgers team and their African colleagues have successfully demonstrated how horticulture can contribute to a real reduction in poverty and malnutrition, while fostering job creation, pride and creativity.
Modern industrial agriculture has helped farmers meet rising food demands, but these practices are contributing to a range of environmental problems. Regenerative agriculture holds promising solutions that could help to restore and maintain healthy ecosystems and contribute to climate change mitigation, while keeping pace with food demands and enhancing farmers’ resilience to environmental stressors. Through her research, Dr Hannah Gosnell aims to understand what motivates cattle and sheep farmers – also known as ranchers – to adopt and sustain the use of regenerative practices and what challenges must be navigated. Her work is informing efforts that encourage farmers to transition to these methods.
Farmers in the East Coast of the US are struggling to compete against the larger farms of other regions. Coupled with rising production costs and increasingly difficult growing conditions, producing conventional commodity crops is no longer viable for these farms. Switching to speciality and niche ethnic crops could help these farmers break into a growing market, improve profitability and future viability – and help fulfil the needs of ethnic communities. Dr Ramu Govindasamy from Rutgers University uses a market-first approach to investigate and develop opportunities for farmers to transition to ethnic crop production.
The Canadian Association for Food Studies allows researchers from diverse disciplines to meet regularly to share their findings and collaborate on diverse issues relating to food systems. In this exclusive interview, we speak with CAFS President Dr Amanda Wilson, who describes how the Association facilitates interdisciplinary scholarship in the areas of food production, distribution and consumption, towards addressing social, environmental and economic challenges within our food systems.
Founded almost 50 years ago, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is a global network that inspires bold leadership, research, and solutions that advance women in STEM, spark innovation, promote organisational success, and drive systemic change. In this exclusive interview, we speak with AWIS president and world-renowned biomedical innovator Dr Susan Windham-Bannister, who describes the barriers that women face in the STEM workplace, and the many ways in which AWIS supports women in science and works towards eliminating inequality through systemic change.
Professor Muireann Quigley – Everyday Cyborgs: How Ought the Law to Deal with Implanted Medical Devices?
Attached and implanted technologies are now part of everyday life for many millions of people. Yet as the capabilities of these devices have advanced rapidly in recent years, lawmakers have struggled to keep pace. Professor Muireann Quigley at the University of Birmingham believes that it is now more critical than ever that the law catches up with the technological and social change wrought by attached and implanted medical devices, especially ‘smart’ ones. Through the Everyday Cyborgs 2.0 and DIY Diabetes projects, she and her colleagues hope to bring law, regulation, and policy regarding these technologies into the 21st century.
More than 80% of agricultural land in the US is managed by farmers whose operations fall between small-scale farms with direct access to local markets, and larger industrialised farms. These farmers in the ‘middle’ increasingly struggle to find a place within the larger food production system. Through his work as part of the ‘Agriculture of the Middle’ Initiative, Dr Thomas Gray of the Rural Business-Cooperative Service at the US Department of Agriculture has been studying different types of cooperative structures for best adaptability to socio-economic and food consumption patterns for mid-size farm survival.