Professor Nicholas Stern – Celebrating The Humanities And Being Human Jun 2014. We live in a time when the world faces problems of trust in institutions and a weakening of confidence in existing ideas and models. The geo-political landscape is shifting fundamentally. Politicians in many countries, including the UK, are failing to inspire younger generations. The UK is seeing a decline in membership of political parties, a lack of public engagement in political issues, and it is especially true of the young. These processes are magnified and intensified by the revolution in communications and social media. The public political arena – the quality and quantity of questioning and serious discussion of evidence – is shrinking before our eyes. We will all be the losers if this continues.

The wealth of research and expertise from those studying the humanities is vital to providing a serious response to these problems. Understanding who we are, how we live and why we make the decisions we do has never before been such a global priority. It is important that we celebrate the humanities and share an understanding of what research in these areas can provide. For example, Reading War and Peace gives not only great fulfilment but also a deep understanding of human behaviour and suffering. One could argue that if more people read it, and engaged with it, the world could be a richer and safer place.

The humanities can help us learn from the past. They also provide crucial insights into the behaviour detailing the future. The implications of new scientific and technological developments, the effect a new cancer treatment might have on individuals, predicting how increases in digital communication will alter human interaction, informing our understanding of what climate change might mean for where and how we live; for all of these, an understanding of behaviour, community and morality are vital.

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The Economist – Let The Light Shine In

reviewTwo big recent scientific results are looking shaky—and it is open peer review on the internet that has been doing the shaking
SCIENTISTS make much of the fact that their work is scrutinised anonymously by some of their peers before it is published. This “peer review” is supposed to spot mistakes and thus keep the whole process honest. The peers in question, though, are necessarily few in number, are busy with their own work, are expected to act unpaid—and are often the rivals of those whose work they are scrutinising. And so, by a mixture of deliberation and technological pressure, the system is starting to change. The internet means anyone can appoint himself a peer and criticise work that has entered the public domain. And two recent incidents have shown how valuable this can be.

The first concerns pluripotent stem cells, the predecessors of every other body cell. Pluripotent cells interest doctors and biologists, who hope to use them to investigate diseases, test drugs and, eventually, regrow patients’ damaged body parts.

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Terence Karran – Academic Freedom In Europe: A Preliminary Comparative Analysis

universityworld, 2007. Using comparative data from 23 states within the European Union (EU), this paper is a preliminary assessment of the protection for, and (by extension) the health of, academic freedom in the universities of the nations of the EU. The paper examines constitutional and legislative protection for academic freedom, along with legal regulations concerning institutional governance, the appointment of the Rector and the existence of academic tenure, in order to create a composite picture of the health of academic freedom in the universities within the EU nations. Additionally, the paper considers how this preliminary analysis could be extended through possible further research to aid refinement of the results, and thereby protect and strengthen academic freedom in Europe.

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See: Opening Address from Perspectives on Academic Freedom Conference. 18 November 2011. National University of Ireland Maynooth.

Dr Terence Karran is a Senior Academic in the Centre for Educational Research and Development, University of Lincoln, U.K. His current research interests focus on the principle and practice academic freedom, and the protection for academic freedom in the EU, the USA and Latin America. He is a member of the New York University’s Scholars At Risk Academic Freedom Advocacy Team. He is also a Docent in the Education Faculty at the University of Oulu, Finland.

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Lecture Martha Nussbaum: Not For Profit. Why Democracy Needs The Humanities (Audio Recordings)

Lecture Martha Nussbaum: Not for Profit. Why Democracy Needs the Humanities | Thursday June 25, 2013, 20.00 – 22.00 hrs., Collegezalencomplex Radboud University Nijmegen | Organised by the Soeterbeeck Programme

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Alex Park – Has This Chilean Architect Figured Out How To Fix Slums?

radical June 2014. In the United States, we tend to think of the suburbs as the historic domain of the middle class. It’s where the boomers went after fleeing the cities to accommodate their growing families (although the demographics of the suburbs are now changing).
But in Latin America, urban peripheries are less commonly populated by leafy suburbs for the rich than by slums for the poor. These shantytowns typically lack basic infrastructure like paved roads, sewers, and tap water. Living far from the city, residents are often forced to make long and expensive commutes.
But in the medium-sized Chilean port city of Iquique, one architect, Alejandro Aravena, had a solution: partial houses, located at the center of town, equipped with only the barest necessities—and space for residents to build on, bit by bit, as they can afford it.

When they were first built fourteen years ago for about 100 families, Aravena’s flagship projects, called the Quinta Monroy Houses, came with all the core necessities—a roof, a bathroom, a kitchen. With a little more than 300 square feet in floor space to start with, the houses were 25 percent smaller than the average public housing unit in Chile, but with an extra-wide foundation, residents had plenty of room to expand.

In his new book, Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture, journalist Justin McGuirk writes that when Aravena first launched the project through his firm, Elemental, a number of critics were appalled. They argued that the government should provide complete houses, since incomplete houses require the occupant to perform manual labor. But where some saw a failure in the making, others welcomed change. In the 1970’s, under Chile’s socialist president Salvador Allende, the government prioritized building completed public housing, even enlisting a Soviet-made pre-fabricated house factory for the job. But despite the initial gusto, the government quickly ran out of the resources to continue. In three years, the slum population rose more than 130 percent.

Since the Allende period, the government has shifted to a hybrid market-government approach, giving subsidies to the poor to buy houses and land. At the time Aravena built Quinta Monroy, the government offered $7,500 per family—usually too little to buy a complete house, but just enough to make Aravena’s stripped-down models affordable.

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Americans At Work Series ~ Bookbinders (ca.1961)

Shows the work of bookbinders and the final steps in the process of manufacturing printed books. From the “Americans at Work” series.

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