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Friday, February 17, 2012

Milena Stanoeva
Canadian federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Two of our 2011 Big Thinkers are in the news this week. Our September Big Thinker, Evan Fraser, was featured on The Cord in an article on the effects of climate change. Kwame Anthony Appiah, a Big Thinker from our Congress 2011 line-up, was presented with the 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Obama.

Martha Nussbaum, a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, gave a lecture at Stanford University on the importance of the humanities to democracy. According to her, the humanities are necessary to teach citizens to be empathetic, to be critical thinkers and to question accepted views.

A recent TedxMcGill talk featured Claude Theoret, a physicist and former professor of physics and statistics at the American University of Paris. Theoret discussed the need for people educated in the humanities that has arisen out of a mediated society whose data-generation is growing exponentially. According to Theoret, people in the humanities and social sciences are important for making sense of this data and what it says about our society.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced that it is making changes to the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Starting in 2015, applicants will be required to demonstrate an understanding of behavioural and social sciences like psychology, sociology and biology. According to Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., AAMC president and CEO, “being a good doctor is about more than scientific knowledge. It also requires an understanding of people.”

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