Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

25 August 2019

What’s In A PhD? – OpEd

By Murray Hunter
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A Doctor of Philosophy or PhD is the highest form of degree conferred by universities. The PhD exists in many forms and has varying requirements depending on country, subject area, university, and faculty. The degree is reflective of the traditional apprentice-master relationship going back to Medieval times, where a candidate undertakes a project or piece of research under a supervisor or number of supervisors to produce a thesis or dissertation that is accepted by experts in the field. The research is required to be original and push out the boundaries of knowledge in the field. 

The degree carries with it a salutation “doctor” which signifies one is now a peer in a particular field of research. Undertaking a PhD is one of the few ways one can get a salutation that is perceived to generate respect in the community. However, culture, ethics, and professional practices of using this salutation greatly varies from country to country. 

9 August 2019

Why Doctors Should Organize Meeting the challenges of modern medicine will require more than seeing patients.

By Eric Topol

In the fall of 2018, the American College of Physicians published a position paper on gun violence. “Firearm violence continues to be a public health crisis in the United States,” its authors wrote, in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The report argued that assault weapons should be banned and that “physicians should counsel patients on the risk of having firearms in the home.” When it was published, the National Rifle Association responded with a tweet: “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

The N.R.A.’s tweet provoked an unprecedented response from the medical profession. Using the hashtag #ThisIsMyLane, emergency-room physicians, trauma surgeons, pediatricians, and pathologists, all of whom are involved in the care of patients with gunshot wounds, posted images of shooting victims and bloodstained hospital floors. Some shared selfies in which they were splattered with blood. “Do you have any idea how many bullets I pull out of corpses weekly? This isn’t just my lane. It’s my fucking highway,” Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist, tweeted. Melinek’s tweet went viral. Doctors appeared on television and wrote op-eds expressing their disgust with the N.R.A.

6 August 2019

Student Feature – Advice on Writing for a Think Tank

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Editors of think tank publications in the Social Sciences often encourage students and professionals to develop and share original analyses and opinions on contemporary issues around the world. However, deciding which think tank to publish an op-ed or short essay with can be daunting even for the most experienced Social Science scholars. It is important to understand what a think-tank ought to do before deciding which think tank to publish with. 

What should a think tank do?

Every year the University of Pennsylvania publishes a global think tank ranking which sparks a massive debate. Successful NGOs see in the ranking a validation of their good work, others use it for promotional purposes, critics regard it as a cheat sheet, while media and commentators critically assess the limits and the merits of such rankings.

18 July 2019

An Education Crisis for All


At a time when the world should be progressing rapidly toward the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education” for all, it faces a deepening crisis instead. To address it, the G7 and developing countries alike must offer concrete commitments that match the scale of the challenge.

WASHINGTON, DC – Aichetou, a 14-year-old girl, lives on the outskirts of Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, in Africa’s Sahel region. Every day, she makes a difficult trek through the sand to get to a school with no drinking water or sanitation, where she barely learns, owing to a lack of textbooks and trained teachers. And she is not alone: tens of millions of schoolchildren worldwide face similar circumstances, while 262 million children and youth are not in school at all.

For philanthropic institutions, the fundamental question of accountability first raised by the emergence of liberal democracy will not go away. To what extent should modern societies permit independent private agendas in the public realm and allow their advocates to pursue objectives that are not shared by governments and popular majorities?

At a time when we should be progressing rapidly toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education” for all (SDG4), the world is facing a deepening education crisis. True, some countries are making strides: in France, every child receives a compulsory education, which will soon begin at age three.

11 July 2019

Our students are not learning. But are our teachers teaching?

Shamika Ravi and Neelanjana Gupta 

Untrained teachers, irrespective of schools being adequately staffed, directly affect student performance. ASER and NAS results make it clear that this is not merely a learning crisis; the Indian school education system is going through a teaching crisis (S Burmaula / Hindustan Times)

Education at the school level has seen remarkable achievements in recent years. With the passage of the Right to Education Act in 2009 and the universalisation of elementary education, more children are successfully completing class 8. Enrolment trends from the Unified District Information on School Education suggest that the gap in enrolment rate between girls and boys has reduced. While there are no numbers to measure the functionality of basic infrastructure facilities, schools now have access to drinking water (87%), electricity connection (61%), and separate toilets for boys and girls (94%).

1 July 2019

NEP And Its Discontents – Part 2: Higher Education

by Anonymous Contributor

The tragedy about the NEP document is that it has been drafted by old fogeys who know little about today’s tech-savvy youth or what modern-day expansionist learning entails.

The document reeks of bureaucracy and not academic excellence or even innovative thinking.

Any comparison of India and Singapore on policy debates usually gets the scoffs from analysts, who point to the vastness and complexity of India vis-a-visSingapore. However, Singaporean visionaries have anticipated growth in trade, finance and now in technology and have organised their economy and society successfully. What has stopped our experts who draft policies from thinking creatively and anticipating trends? The complexity of India should not have been a hurdle to thinking!

Boston Dynamics makes robotic dogs that navigate difficult terrain and do complicated tasks with ease. Amazon is planning on drone deliveries. Khan Academy and a host of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) providers already offer fantastic courses for certification. These are not “imagined futures”, but a future that has almost already arrived. Our youngsters have embraced this future like fish to water. From accessing MOOCs and normal tutorials, to getting certifications, to accessing code from Github, Indian college students are doing it all.

30 June 2019

Draft New Education Policy – A Case Of Thinking Inside The Box

by Banuchandar Nagarajan

The draft policy has been a massive exercise. The scope and scale of issues and consultations are truly mind-boggling.

Perhaps Prof. Kasturirangan, in his wisdom from working with the government systems over the years, thought it prudent to focus on productivity reforms, while prodding slightly to look further at eclectic possibilities.

An acid test will be how much the current government itself will act on the recommendations.

How would we have thought about the year 2019 in 2004? It is a very hard exercise to undertake now. However, to aid us, we have quite a few “Vision 2020” documents made by consulting firms during the previous decade. A glimpse into those will tell us that as far as hard infrastructure --- such as roads, railways, water supply etc.,--- the aspirations expressed were mostly reasonable. Some have not still been fulfilled yet.

But when it comes to productivity-related issues such as technology and human capital, the documents have not anticipated the giant leaps. No one could have thought of a WhatsApp or an Uber. They could not anticipate the explosion of knowledge and information through social media brought about by the proliferation of smartphones and cheap Internet.

6 June 2019

How the French Turned a Tennis Court Into a Garden

By Gerald Marzorati

If a tennis stadium is a stage of sorts, what should its backdrop be? That’s a question suggested by the new show court at the Stade Roland Garros, where the French Open is under way. It’s called Court Simonne-Mathieu, after a French tennis champion of the nineteen-thirties. She was also the leader of the women’s branch of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French Forces during the Second World War. The court named after her is situated in the Serres d’Auteuil botanical garden, which has long been an uneasy Parisian neighbor of Roland Garros, at the southern edge of the Bois de Boulogne. Making your way there from the Roland Garros grounds, you can almost feel your pulse drop as you skirt Court No. 1, the circular “bullring,” and enter the botanical garden along the cobblestoned Allée de l’Orangerie. There’s a sharp diminishment of crowd noise and a glimpse of woods, and the faint scent of blooming thyme. And then there’s a low, curved construction that could, at first glance, be a big, glass-enclosed hoop house. That’s Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Liverpool’s Long Journey to Champions League Victory

By Ed Caesar

Last May, Dan Davies—a forty-eight-year-old writer and editor, and a lifelong Liverpool fan—spent several days and many hundreds of pounds travelling to and from Kiev, Ukraine, to watch Liverpool lose 3–1 in the Champions League final, to Real Madrid. A scarcity of flights and the ruthless profiteering of Kiev’s hoteliers had necessitated some baroque travel arrangements: a flight out via Amsterdam; a journey back via train to Odessa, Ukraine, followed by connecting flights through Central Europe; a makeshift bed on an apartment balcony. It was Davies’s thirty-sixth European away match following Liverpool, and his third European Cup final. It was a long way to go to watch your goalkeeper throw the game away. He told his wife and two young children that the Kiev trip would be his last such adventure.

31 May 2019

Simona Halep

By Louisa Thomas

Simona Halep first picked up a racquet when she was four years old. At fourteen, she decided to dedicate her life to tennis. At sixteen, she left her family, in the small, ancient city of Constanta, Romania, and moved into a hotel in the capital, Bucharest, in order to train at a serious academy. Her father jokingly called her his “little Rolex,” because, at a young age, she told him that she would win the big tournaments. At seventeen, she had breast-reduction surgery—a frightening procedure, which lasted nearly seven hours—in order to relieve pain in her back and help her game. As a child, Halep was so shy that it was painful for her even to speak on the phone, but she forced herself to face the cameras and the scrutiny of the media, which grew more intense with each season. Every day, she went to the gym to tend to her muscles, joints, and ligaments. When her friends went to parties, she went to sleep.

28 May 2019

The radical plan to change how Harvard teaches economics

By Dylan Matthews

If Harvard has a most famous course, it’s Economics 10.

The introductory economics class is reliablyone of the most popular courses offered to undergraduates. It’s usually taught in a massive Hogwartsian auditorium, where hundreds of students either dutifully take notes or mess around on laptops as one of the school’s star economists leads them through the basics of supply and demand.

Because Harvard has a tendency to set the pattern for other universities, Ec 10’s textbook is amassive best-seller, used at dozens of other schools, earning its author, professor Greg Mankiw, an estimated $42 million in royalties since it was first released in 1998. Mankiw’s introduction to economics has set the tone not just at Harvard but for how Econ 101 is taught across the country.

Mankiw’s textbook covers the abstract theory that underpins economics as it has been understood for decades. It is about supply and demand, about how prices can be used to match production of a good to its consumption, and about the power of markets as a tool for allocating scarce resources. Students in Ec 10 are asked to plot supply and demand curves, to solve simple word problems about what happens when the mayor of Smalltown, USA, imposes a tax on hotel rooms.

The idea is to impart a basic theory, to lay a foundation for understanding how society works. And that theory strongly implies that markets tend to work without much intervention, and that things like minimum wages might hurt more than help.

14 March 2019

What the Speed of Life Means for Security and Society

The envelope arrived with no explanation but a New York City postmark. Kathryn Bouskill tore it open and shook out a small, silvery coin. It was stamped with a “20,” she saw as she turned it over in her hand—not 20 cents, or 20 dollars, but 20 minutes.

Bouskill studies health and human behavior as an anthropologist at RAND. She and another researcher, Seifu Chonde, teamed up to examine our scramble for new technology, our headlong rush to make everything go a little faster. We are hurtling toward a time of transformation, they concluded, without asking what all this speed means for our society, our security, and our sanity.

She knew the value of that coin right away.

Do We Have "Hurry Sickness"?

5 March 2019

Warrior Pose : Building Readiness through Resilience—Yoga and Meditation

Ajit Joshi

The rigors of military service create unique stressors on uniformed Service members and their families. Better mental, spiritual, emotional, behavioral, and physical health may reduce violence and aggression, which can be unhealthy outlets for accumulated stress. Harvard Medical School yoga researcher Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa suggests that yoga and meditation change the perception of what is stressful—the indicators for measuring that are improved emotional and stress reactivity as a function of increased resilience.1 Yoga is one tool, among others, for increasing resilience and readiness. United States Army Captain Enrique Incle observes: Yoga has been a tremendous source of strength to me. It has enabled me to obtain inner peace, and control the memories which caused me anxiety for many years. Yoga is a tool for injury prevention, rehabilitation, and health promotion, and it needs to be championed because our Soldiers deserve every chance to continue to serve and stay in the fight. 

7 February 2019

The Decline of Historical Thinking

By Eric Alterman

Having ignored questions of economic inequality for decades, economists and other scholars have recently discovered a panoply of effects that go well beyond the fact that some people have too much money and many don’t have enough. Inequality affects our physical and mental health, our ability to get along with one another and to make our voices heard and our political system accountable, and, of course, the futures that we can offer our children. Lately, I’ve noticed a feature of economic inequality that has not received the attention it deserves. I call it “intellectual inequality.”

I do not refer to the obvious and ineluctable fact that some people are smarter than others but, rather, to the fact that some people have the resources to try to understand our society while most do not. Late last year, Benjamin M. Schmidt, a professor of history at Northeastern University, published a study demonstrating that, for the past decade, history has been declining more rapidly than any other major, even as more and more students attend college. With slightly more than twenty-four thousand current history majors, it accounts for between one and two per cent of bachelor’s degrees, a drop of about a third since 2011. The decline can be found in almost all ethnic and racial groups, and among both men and women. Geographically, it is most pronounced in the Midwest, but it is present virtually everywhere.

2 February 2019



Being accepted into one of the best universities in the world is a dream shared by thousands of high school students.

Aspiring lawyers flock to Harvard, engineers to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all filled with hope and excitement for the years ahead. For many, having the right university on your resume can be the difference between a high-paying job in New York and cutting your teeth in a rural town.

QS University Rankings has revealed the top 50 universities in the world in its 2019 report. The United States earned the top four spots, followed by five and six from the United Kingdom. The University of Chicago finished eighth, giving the U.S. half of the top 10.

The U.K. had another two in the top 10—both London-based—and Switzerland had one to round out the leading pack. 

26 January 2019

The Decline Of The Scholar And The Decline Of Academia

By Antony P. Mueller*

The academic scholar, along with the great teacher, is vanishing from the faculties of the universities. Specialists occupy the places that they leave. The first victims of this process are the students. When the professorial specialists hold a lecture, they have little else to teach that goes beyond their tiny field of expertise. About the areas other than the field of specialization, the one-dimensional expert is as ignorant as the students. When the experts teach their specialization, the content is too advanced for the students to understand and should the experts go into the wider area of the discipline, their discourse becomes amateurish. The decline of wisdom in academia that has happened over the past decades results from this change.

7 November 2018

The future of work won't be about college degrees, it will be about job skills

Stephane Kasriel

According to the survey Freelancing in America 2018, released Wednesday, freelancers put more value on skills training: 93 percent of freelancers with a four-year college degree say skills training was useful versus only 79 percent who say their college education was useful to the work they do now. In addition, 70 percent of full-time freelancers participated in skills training in the past six months compared to only 49 percent of full-time non-freelancers.

The fifth annual survey, conducted by research firm Edelman Intelligence and co-commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union, polled 6,001 U.S. workers.

This new data points to something much larger. Rapid technological change, combined with rising education costs, have made our traditional higher-education system an increasingly anachronistic and risky path. The cost of a college education is so high now that we have reached a tipping point at which the debt incurred often isn't outweighed by future earnings potential.

6 November 2018



He was born on a sailboat in Leith Harbour, an abandoned whaling station on South Georgia island. His father, a French adventurer, had met his mother, an Australian zoologist, on a jetty in Tasmania while sailing his boat around the world. The couple started a family in the South Atlantic. For years they traversed the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, surveying wildlife in uncharted bays—seals, flowering plants, seabirds—with three boys in tow. Dion was the first.

The Antarctic Peninsula is an 800-mile string of mountains and volcanoes that juts north from the White Continent like the tail on a horseshoe crab. It was Poncet’s playground. Young Dion and his brothers read, drew, and played with Legos—but also chased penguins, lifted chocolate from derelict research stations, and sledded down hills that might never have seen a human footprint. Other kids face schoolyard bullies; Dion was tormented by dive-bombing skuas, which whacked his head hard enough to make him cry. Other kids star in wobbly home movies; the Poncet boys were featured in a 1990 National Geographic film about growing up in the Antarctic. Sometimes, during breaks from homeschooling, Dion’s mom had him count penguins. “It got pretty boring pretty quickly,” he says.

13 October 2018

What We're Reading

By Walter Isaacson

There are so many dimensions to Einstein’s mind that any statement about it is by definition insufficient. After reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of him, I think I will try making some statements anyway. Einstein was a magisterial rejection of common sense. Sir Isaac Newton took the world as it was and provided a rigorous framework for understanding it. Einstein did not reject the world that Newton and the rest of us know; he simply said that that world was surrounded by realities that violate our notions of the obvious. He discovered a set of truths, hidden from view, that was at once brilliant and frightening. Imagine being told one day that what you know about time – that it is fixed, moving at the same rate and in the same direction – is false. That time has a duration and even a direction. Imagine looking at your alarm clock and thinking it is an avatar of another dimension of reality, one that can be compressed and stretched by motion and gravitation and all the other forces that exist within the dimension we thought was fixed and familiar. It’s frightening. What other uncanny strangeness shapes our existence without our knowledge?

10 September 2018

Amit Chaudhuri: ‘All non-western literature is wilfully underrated’

Amit Chaudhuri
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Elizabeth Hardwick’s Collected Essays. Her insights, though recorded during times so different from our era of unrepentant celebration and moral vigilantism, feel unsparingly true, and are expressed with musicality. To choose one at random: “A genius may indeed go to his grave unread, but he will hardly have gone to it upraised. Sweet, bland commendations fall everywhere upon the scene.” For the present age, we should add “awards” to “commendations”. 

The book that changed my life