Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Exploring the complexities of residing in disaster-prone areas is challenging for individuals, businesses, and governments. Professor John Freebairn of the University of Melbourne is shedding light on this process, and notes that the benefits of living in disaster-prone areas often outweigh the potential risks. As governments intervene with financial incentives, infrastructure development, and regulatory measures, finding an appropriate balance between short-term relief and long-term resilience is crucial. Professor Freebairn considers the roles of government, information, insurance strategies, and subsidy consequences.
While individual national identities are typically conveyed using a single flag, some nationalists choose to express their identity with two flags. For instance, Christian nationalists in the USA and South Korea have started flying the Israeli flag beside their country’s national flag at right-wing Christian rallies or outside their homes. Dr Amílcar Antonio Barreto and HyungJin Kim, two researchers at Northeastern University, have recently carried out a study exploring the symbolic meaning of this double flag use among Christian nationalists.
In recent years, many European countries have introduced bans that limit or prohibit the use of religious face veils, which include the burqa and niqab. Dr Brenda O’Neill worked with colleagues to examine the role of feminist arguments amongst non-Muslim women in Quebec on the acceptability of wearing the niqab in public spaces. This work explored some additional attitudes underpinning these arguments, identifying how these also shape the diverse beliefs of Canadian women.
Jacob Hariri – Asger Wingender | Democratisation Becomes Less Likely When Arms Technology Surpasses Economic Development
Professor Jacob Hariri and Professor Asger Wingender, both at the University of Copenhagen, recently noticed that in most countries outside Europe and North America, economic development lags far behind government access to highly sophisticated weapons. The professors draw lessons from history and their extensive statistical analyses to warn that such an imbalance makes repression cheaper and easier, and democracy less likely to emerge.
Dr Patriann Smith, at the University of South Florida, is challenging the norms of literacy research, practice, and policy. Her mission seeks to shift literacy standards from monolingual, monoracial, and monocultural perspectives to embrace multilingual, multiracial, and multicultural diversity. She uses a transdisciplinary approach steeped in quantum physics and racialised entanglements referred to as ‘transraciolinguistics’ to redesign literacy and language practices to be more inclusive and accessible and redefine what it means to be literate. She is the author of the book, ‘Black Immigrant Literacies: Intersections of Race, Language, and Culture in the Classroom’ (2023) and Co-Founder of the RISE Caribbean Educational Research Center.
Many Mexican women experience social isolation and depression after immigrating to the USA, and they are particularly vulnerable to this if they lack social connections and a support network in their new environment. An innovative research group at the University of New Mexico developed a highly promising intervention called ‘Tertulias’, which is helping to improve the mental health and well-being of female immigrants.
Dr Andrew Lohrey and Dr Bruce Boreham suggest that all scientific research, as well as everyday inquiry, is framed by one of two underpinning, organising principles: ‘content determines content’ or ‘context determines content.’ ‘Content determines content’ is the most commonly used principle in science and means that the discursive content of results and conclusions will be elaborations of what has already previously been communicated. The second, more open-ended principle is ‘context determines content’, meaning that results or conclusions will take account of the context in which the research and inquiry have taken place. But ‘what is a context’?
Lisa Smith – Timothy Frankenberger | Building Resilience in Ethiopia’s Drylands: Evaluating Programme Impacts
Developing countries face increasingly destructive crises, including climate, economic, political and health shocks. To improve quality of life and encourage further international development, it is imperative to improve resilience in communities. In recent research, Lisa Smith and Timothy Frankenberger at TANGO International evaluated a programme which aimed to increase resilience among pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the drylands of Ethiopia. Their discussion includes important recommendations for the design of future programmes.
Who gets to be a theorist? What kinds of theoretical work get marginalised in academic research? And how does this oppression play out in the peer-review process? Dr Kimberly Kay Hoang is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. She has explored how difficult it is to get your sociology research published if you are not using research deemed to be legitimate by reviewers. She brings awareness to these issues and argues for change amongst scholars so that new forms of knowledge are not missed, especially regarding feminist, minority and racial theories.
The anonymous leak of the Panama Papers in 2016 revealed how the exceptionally wealthy (such as politicians, celebrities and business leaders) hide their money and exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Dr Kimberly Kay Hoang is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, and after six years of research, hundreds of interviews and travelling 350,000 miles, she published Spiderweb Capitalism: How Global Elites Exploit Frontier Markets. She uncovered the mechanisms behind the movement of money into and out of Southeast Asia, and how that money travels all over the world.
Patents, or holding the intellectual property rights to an invention, can be of great importance to a company, as they allow them to sell their product in a specific market with reduced competition. Dr Ian Maxwell has recently considered the patents filed by Chinese entities in Australia, looking in particular at the recent growth in the number of these patents being filed. He considers the interplay between patents and political rulings and provides several insightful statistics about these Chinese-owned Australian patents.
The Etruscan people lived in the Apennine Peninsula in the 1st millennium BC, but their important classical legacy remains a fascinating topic to this day. Of particular interest and intrigue are the Etruscan mirrors – metal mirrors decorated with images and Etruscan inscriptions. Professor Petra Amann at the University of Vienna is working with colleagues to record and analyse all Etruscan mirrors held in public collections in Austria.
In his best-selling book Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011), Daniel Kahneman distinguishes between two systems of thought: System 1 involves fast, intuitive thinking, whereas System 2 is characterised as slow, reason-based thinking. More than two hundred years earlier, the philosopher, economist and historian David Hume made what Dr Mark Sainsbury (University of Texas at Austin) argues is a similar distinction. Like Kahneman, Hume proposed that much of our behaviour is determined in the first (fast) way rather than the second (slow) way. For both Hume and Kahneman, the upshot is that Reason plays a much less important role in our lives than is often thought.
Science journalism can open a fascinating window on critical research advances but, if poorly executed, can also disseminate false, biased, or pseudo-scientific information. Dr Susan E. Swanberg at the University of Arizona, recently unveiled a hidden connection between the Science Service, an agency dedicated to disseminating science founded in 1921, and eugenics, a pseudo-scientific movement that believed humans could be ‘perfected’ using extreme methods, such as involuntary sterilisation and social exclusion.
Dr Reuven Bar-On – Dr Carina Fiedeldey-Van Dijk | Optimising Employee Talent with a Multifactor Measure of Performance
Dr Reuven Bar-On and Dr Carina Fiedeldey-Van Dijk, the co-directors of Into Performance ULC, are established experts in the psychology of human performance. For over 35 years, Dr Bar-On has examined human performance within the workplace and elsewhere. He originally developed the Bar-On Multifactor Measure of Performance (MMP), a psychometric instrument designed to study, evaluate and enhance performance and accessible via the MMP2Perform.com website. Together, Dr Fiedeldey-Van Dijk and Dr Bar-On are continuing to develop this model and evidence-based approaches to maximise employee potential in the workplace with MMP-driven business solutions.
Professor Kim McDonough – Professor Pavel Trofimovich | New Insights into Non-verbal Aspects of Second Language Learning
Although most people study a second language in school, this education alone is seldom sufficient to achieve the level of proficiency needed to live in a foreign country. But in a world where global migration is increasingly common, learning a second language has become essential for millions of people. Professors Kim McDonough and Pavel Trofimovich at Concordia University, Canada, study language learning, and in doing so, are helping those trying to become competent in the use of a second language.
Former President Donald Trump promised to bring jobs back to the U.S., arguing that the trade deficit was responsible for slow economic growth and costing the economy jobs. While the Trump administration popularised the issue, historically, the broad impact of trade deficits has been contentious. Dr Jon Neill is a Professor of Economics at Western Michigan University. His computational modelling has shown that U.S. residents would experience a slight loss if consumer goods currently being imported from countries like China, were produced domestically instead. His calculations question whether the net benefit from trade with low-wage countries is warranted, given the distributional impact of that trade.
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.