Extending Wednesdays

Money & Science

Today’s Extending Wednesdays topic comes from the Economics section of Ideas Roadshow’s Extended Essay Guide, and features renowned scientist, polymath and author Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study, reflecting on how underlying economic motivations often drive scientific inquiry. 

The fact that science, like any other human activity, is subjected to large-scale economic influences is hardly surprising when one stops to think about it, but often scientific activity is treated as somehow “beyond” standard economic frameworks with incentive structures considered to be based solely on internal scientific criteria or a more abstract, idealistic evaluation of “research interest”.

But Professor Dyson’s comments shed light on several important factors directly correlated with the economics of scientific research, ranging from a waste of human capital on a large-scale sociological level to an increased sense of personal and professional frustration on a personal one. 

This topic bridges Economics, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Systems and Societies.  Possible areas of investigation for an Extended Essay include analytical studies of the influence of economic factors on specific avenues of scientific research and the associated complexities of objectively quantifying innovation and productivity in the context of scientific research.

Related resources that are part of Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal include the clips Too Much String, and Suddenly Fashionable, as well as the hour-long videos and accompanying enhanced eBooks Pushing The Boundaries and The Problems of Physics which include a wealth of additional research materials.

If your school does not have an institutional subscription to Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal yet you can now sign up for an individual subscription. Annual individual teacher or student subscriptions cost only $75 and provide unlimited access to all resources. School-wide subscriptions are affordably priced based on the number of DP students in your school.

Extending Wednesdays

Linguistic Diversity

Today’s Extending Wednesdays topic comes from the Geography section of Ideas Roadshow’s Extended Essay Guide, where UC San Diego linguist Carol Padden reflects on the impact our modern technological era is having on linguistic diversity around the world.

Prof. Padden points out two opposite trends: the difficulty of maintaining linguistic diversity in an increasingly globalized world and connected technology and the opportunities that precisely these technologies give to those who wish to study and learn new languages. 

The case of sign language is even more complex still, as it was only about 50 years ago, thanks largely to the pioneering work of Bill Stokoe, that what he designated as “American Sign Language” was even recognized to be a unique language at all. 

This topic bridges Geography, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Language & Literature and ITGS.  Possible areas of investigation for an extended essay include analytical studies of the rate of change of linguistic diversity, the impact of technology on cultural norms, language learning through technology, and objective measures of evaluating language acquisition.

Related Ideas Roadshow content includes the clips Different Modalities, Humour in Sign Language, Losing the Sharp Edges, Signing As Language, The Roots of Sign Language, the compilation videos Language and Culture, Examining Community and The Science of Language and the two hour-long videos and accompanying enhanced eBook, Sign Language Linguistics.

Connecting Thursdays

The Lower Ground

How do we know when common societal stereotypes are false?

Quick, what comes to mind when you hear the word “schizophrenic”?  If you’re like most people, you’ll probably conjure up shadowy visions of multiple personalities or violent criminals. You certainly wouldn’t think of an award-winning law professor with an endowed chair and her own institute (“Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics”).

But you’d be wrong on both counts.  

Before she published her bestselling memoir, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, USC law professor Elyn Saks was recommended by one of her friends to publish it under a pseudonym.  “Do you want to become forever known as ‘the schizophrenic with a job‘?”, her friend probed her.   

Elyn did, eventually, reject the advice, opting to publish the book under her real name.  Her reasoning, she told me, was simply, “I could never write anything that could possibly be more helpful to other people than telling my story, and it was worth the risk.”

When all was said and done, her decision was clearly the right one.  But it’s important to remember that the risk was real.  

And it shouldn’t have been. 

Related Ideas Roadshow IBDP resources include Ideas Roadshow’s TOK Connections Guide for Geography, TOK Connections Guide for SCA, TOK Connections Guide for Psychology, the video clips Stereotypes of Mental Illness (TOK) and Mental Illness and Autonomy (TOK). 

Your school has not subscribed yet? Visit our website – HERE – to learn more about Ideas Roadshow’s IBDP Portal which offers an extensive database of authoritative video and print resources explicitly created to meet the needs of both teachers and students throughout the Diploma Programme.