Category Archives: Society & Culture

Focus on research: What we need to know about race-neutral policies

By Liliana M Garces

On Thursday, June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a race-conscious post-secondary admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered to be the swing vote, joined Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor, in a 4-3 decision that affirmed the constitutionality of the race-conscious policy and the university’s compelling interest in the educational benefits of a diverse student body.

At the same time, the decision addressed the need for institutions to continue to assess whether so-called race-neutral alternatives are available and workable, and suffice for achieving the university’s goals.

A large body of evidence shows so-called race-neutral admissions policies are not as effective for attaining racial diversity on campus. They could even exacerbate existing racial inequities.

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Why the UK’s Brexit vote should matter to Americans

By Terrence Guay

On June 23, citizens of the United Kingdom will go to the polls to vote on whether their country will remain a member of the European Union. While the outcome will have the greatest impact on residents of Europe, it will also affect the U.S. as well.

And with the latest polls putting the “leave” campaign ahead of those for remaining in the EU, it’s essential that Americans understand just what’s at stake if a “Brexit” were to occur — and why we’re having this debate in the first place.

As a scholar of international business who views European integration as a successful, albeit messy, experiment in peace-building, I appreciate the frustration many in the U.K. have with the way the EU sometimes operates. But is that enough to justify leaving it?

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What is different in the bilingual brain?

By François Grosjean

Editor’s Note: This interview, conducted by François Grosjean, originally appeared on the Psychology Today blog, Life as a Bilingual.

Research on the bilingual brain has gone through several stages over the years: the study of aphasic polyglots, experimental work on language lateralization in bilinguals, and now brain imaging studies that examine language processing and neural structures and connections between them. One of the leading researchers in this field is Ping Li, professor of psychology and linguistics at Penn State. He works on the neural and computational bases of language representation and learning and has kindly accepted to answer a few of our questions. We wish to thank him wholeheartedly.

Before addressing the issue of what is different in the bilingual brain, as compared to the monolingual brain, can you quickly go through what is clearly similar?

It may be helpful to say at the outset that we are talking about the human brain, bilingual or not, which is the only brain that can learn and use complex natural languages for communication. No brain of any other species on our planet has language like ours, despite claims that other animals may also have sophisticated communication systems.  Continue reading What is different in the bilingual brain?

Focus on research: Solitary confinement is bad for the brain

by Jordan Gaines Lewis

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared on The Conversation on July 2, 2015. The fourth season of Orange is the New Black was released on Friday, June 17, 2016. 

The inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary, the fictional setting for the Netflix TV series Orange is the New Black, are not shy women.

They’ve landed in prison for murder, fraud, stalking, drug-smuggling, theft, and political activism. They do illegal activities behind the officers’ backs. They make their opinions known loud and clear to one another. And they’re not opposed to throwing a few punches, if duty calls.

But all will cease if you threaten to send them to the SHU. Why?

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Video from the Dead Sea

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Daniel Falk’s adventure at a desert cave in Israel. Falk and two colleagues, all experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls,  were invited to join an archaeological dig there for a few days.

Last night Falk sent us these video clips from his visits to the cave.

First, getting there: After using mountaineering gear to clamber up the side of the bluff, he had to work his way sideways to reach the cave, which is just visible near the end of the clip. You’ll hear him say hello to a person in a green shirt who is sitting at the edge of the cave.

Continue reading Video from the Dead Sea