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On SHAPE: a Q&A with Lucy Noakes, Eyal Poleg, Laura Wright & Mary Kelly

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OUP have recently announced our support for the newly created SHAPE initiative—Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy. To further understand the crucial role these subjects play in our everyday lives, we have put three questions to four British Academy SHAPE authors and editors—social and cultural historian Lucy Noakes, historian of objects and faith Eyal Poleg, historical sociolinguist Laura Wright, and Lecturer in Contemporary Art History Mary Kelly—on what SHAPE means to them, and to their research.SHAPE subjects are well-named—they help us shape the world we live in and the future we’re building. What distinctive potential and skills do you think Arts and Humanities and Social Science disciplines bring to the lives of those learning them, as well as to society?Lucy Noakes: I think that these disciplines, though they vary widely in approaches and methods used, all have one essential element in common: they help our students to learn how to be effective, engaged, and critical citizens. For example, the pernicious nature of “fake news” today, from the wilder extremes of QANON fantasists to the advice circulating on social media suggesting that people can protect themselves from COVID-19 by inhaling steam or drinking hot water with lemon juice, can be harmful to both individuals and to wider societies. SHAPE students learn to be active and participatory readers and listeners. A student researching an essay topic will ask: who is arguing this? Why? What is their evidence? Where was it published? They also learn how to develop arguments based on evidence, not opinion—crucial skills in today’s world.Eyal Poleg: Critical thinking and the ability to reflect on events, past and present, are vital for our existence as a dynamic and pluralistic society. Our students learn how to analyse sources, be they written accounts, artwork, mundane objects, or buildings. These skills are invaluable in becoming active and engaged citizens within modern. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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