This Year and Next

Future Themes (An Evolving List)

  1.  What Does It Mean to Be Human? 
    • Robots, robot ethics, robot rights, robot definitions; the future of work in a world of robots
    • Hominids, biological anthropology
    • Language, linguistics, linguistic anthropology
    • Philosophical accounts of the self and personhood
    • Rights, human rights, animal rights
  2. Quantified Self, Quantified Society: The Promise and Problems of Numbers 
    • "Metrics," their value and limitations
    • Problems and possibilities of data
    • Increased public, commercial, and government interest in quantified results
    • Digital humanities vs./plus traditional humanities
    • Up- and downsides of algorithms in public policy; "weapons of math destruction?"
    • Who generates/controls/understands the numbers? Power, equality, democracy
    • Statistics, research, replication of results, private and public confidence in social and behavioral sciences (and other number-heavy fields)
  3. Coasts, Cities, and Everyone Else 
    • Urban and/vs. rural
    • Red vs. blue America
    • Rural issues in particular, including central Michigan: jobs, infrastructure, health, representation
    • Detroit, Flint, ... 
    • Resource accessibility/availability
    • Environment and sustainability in urban/rural contexts
  4. Medicine, Healing, and the Body 
    • History of medicine/body
    • Medical ethics 
    • Portrayals and practices 
    • Public policy
    • Mental health
    • Tradition and innovation; trust and mistrust of evidence-based medicine
  5. Experts, Elites, and Equality: Democracy When It's Complicated
    • Alternative facts; fake news; public attitudes toward expertise
    • Ivory towers and Ivy Leagues 
    • Canons, taste, and cultural capital
    • Accidental inequality: fair/unfair advantages of having educated parents, a culturally rich community, etc.
    • History / theory of education
    • "Pure" vs. applied liberal arts; open-ended vs. public-goal-directed scholarship