Social Sciences

Biologising the Social Sciences

Human skullSpoiling for a fight? Credit: driki

Academics have increasingly turned to evolutionary explanations for the human condition, variously arguing that:

You can find out more about evolutionary psychology and explore more of its theories in Evolutionary Psychology, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal showcasing work across the human sciences.

But are there limits to the explanatory power of evolution? David Canter, Professor of Psychology at the University of Huddersfield, thinks so. He made a trenchant case against biologising the social sciences in David Canter, ‘Challenging neuroscience and evolutionary explanations of social and psychological processes,’ Contemporary Social Science, 7 (2012), 92-115.

You can listen to David Canter debate the issues with Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham, on Radio 4's Inside Science programme (the item begins at 18 minutes).

How far would you take evolutionary explanations of human behaviour?

Date posted: 

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Tags: 

On interviews

Woman reading

One of the things that interviewers look for is genuine interest. Image credit: THX0477

We interview most people who apply to Cambridge (more than 80%). It is in interviews that subject specialists are able to work with you directly, see how you think and work, and really explore your academic potential for the course that you've applied for.

We hope that you will find the following new Cambridge University film useful, and we particularly hope that it will put any summer work that you are doing to develop your interests into context!

Date posted: 

Sunday 27 July 2014

Tags: 

Girl Summit 2014

Alimatu Dimonekene speaking at the Girl Summit

Alimatu Dimonekene speaking. Image credit: UK Department for International Development

The Girl Summit 2014 was held in London yesterday, focusing on domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage.

Information:

World Health Organisation factsheet on Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change

Girl Summit 2014:

How should an anthropologist study female genital mutilation?

Date posted: 

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Tags: 

How well do you know your local area?

Berwick upon Tweed town centre

Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland. Image credit: Laszlo Ilyes

The Office for National Statistics has produced an interesting survey based on the 2011 census.

If you live in England or Wales, do have a look:

Further ways of exploring the census data are available in:

Date posted: 

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Tags: 

Tony Blair: Twenty Years On

Tony Blair at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009Tony Blair in Davos in 2009. Credit: World Economic Forum

Twenty years ago today Tony Blair was elected leader of the Labour Party. Read his first speech on becoming leader and his latest speech reflecting on the twentieth anniversary of his election.

Key figures and commentators from the Blair years  have been reflecting on Blair's legacy in the newspapers:

You could follow up on these assessments by reading more about Tony Blair in his own words...

... and in the view of political scienitsts:

How have assessments of Tony Blair's leadership and legacy changed over the course of the past twenty years and why?

Date posted: 

Monday 21 July 2014

Tags: 

Trainers, pumps, plimsolls or daps?

Plimsolls? No, daps. Credit: dave

How do you refer to the appropriate footwear for a PE class?  Trainers, pumps, plimsolls, or daps?  The word you use almost certainly reflects where you live, or where you grew up. 

Researchers in Linguistics can use lexical variation (our choice of words or phrases), phonological variation (the way in which we pronounce certain words), and syntactic variation (the way in which we construct sentences) to draw maps of dialect variation, such as those produced by the Multilingual Manchester project.

King's teacher and researcher Bert Vaux and his colleague Scott Golder created a dialect survey whilst he was at Harvard in 2002 which went viral when it was featured in the New York Times last year. Bert says:

"What's been most exciting about the newest viral episode is the demonstration over a pool of several million test subjects that it is possible to identify the regional origins of English speakers just from subtle lexical 'tells.'"

You can hear Bert discussing the latest success of the survey and the conclusions he drew from it on National Public Radio (NPR) in the U.S. in February.

If you'd like to contribute to Bert's ongoing research, you can take the Cambridge Online Survey of World Englishes now.

Date posted: 

Friday 18 July 2014

Tags: 

The Euro and Its Impact

Euro notes

Credit: Images money

What does economics tell us about the operation of single currency areas and currency unions (such as the Eurozone)?

This is one of the questions that the Euro and Its Impact resource asks you to consider. This pdf was produced by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), and is designed for sixth formers with an interest in economic affairs and policy. It provides information on the topic as well as suggestions for further reading.

If you would like to find out more about the Institute of Economic Affairs and what it does, do have a look at its IEA website. If you have a particular area of interest, you may find the policy areas section useful for finding relevant material.

Date posted: 

Thursday 17 July 2014

Tags: 

Trinity College's Robson History Prize (Year 12)

Sea

What is to be gained by studying the histories of seas or oceans?
Image credit: AvidlyAbide

If you are interested in History (including historical aspects of a wide range of courses from Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic to Economics, Philosophy and Theology) why not think about some of the questions that Trinity College has set for their Robson History Prize? There's a wide choice of 59 titles, so you are bound to find a topic that you would enjoy studying.

Here are just a few of them:

  • What was the role and influence of Queens in Anglo-Saxon England?
  • Was the Hundred Years War really a single conflict?
  • What were the causes of the European ‘witchcraze’ in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?
  • What sort of a revolution was the French revolution?
  • How did the Atlantic slave trade affect state formation and economic growth in West Africa?
  • Why was the Spanish civil war so bloody?
  • ‘The Attlee government’s failure to create a socialist commonwealth was as much due to ideological shortcomings as economic constraints.’ Discuss.
  • To what extent do market forces pose a threat to the accuracy of popular history?
  • Is the goal of Aristotle’s Politics to arrive at a theory of the best state?

If you would like to work on an essay to enter in the competition, the deadline is 1 August and do make sure that you read the full details (including the full list of titles) on Trinity College's website before you start. If you don't have chance or don't want to do that, do have a look at the titles nonetheless as there's plenty of inspiration for research and thought.

Date posted: 

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Tags: 

Summer Reading (and Writing)

Pile of booksCredit: Pam loves pie

As you break up for the vacation, you may be resolving to read through the pile of books that has built up on your bedside table during a busy academic year. But how do you make your summer reading count? As the University of Cambridge advises its students:

Reading for a degree requires different reading skills to reading for pleasure. Developing understanding through reading needs to be an active process, whereby you engage with the text, question and develop your ideas in response to it.

Listen to Hanna Weibye (one of the King's Fellows in History) making a similar point, when she recommends that you read as widely and as critically as possible.

 

The University of Southampton, the University of Manchester, and the Open University all offer useful advice on how to read in an engaged way.

One way to read effectively is to... write! Once you've read a text, why not write and share a review of it? The Wellcome Trust blog offers advice on how to write a news story from a scientific paper.  The Guardian's Blogging Students advise on how to blog.

Date posted: 

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Tags: 

World population day

Map of the world

Credit: Sherrie Thai

It was World Population Day this week (11 July). Here are some of the articles published:

Date posted: 

Saturday 12 July 2014

Tags: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Social Sciences