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Political Division in America: A Fresh Perspective of the Chaos

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The United States is in a period of political turmoil and polarization. New technologies have matured over the last ten years, which have transformed an individual’s relationship with society and government. The emergence of these technologies has revolutionized access to

The United States is in a period of political turmoil and polarization. New technologies have matured over the last ten years, which have transformed an individual’s relationship with society and government. The emergence of these technologies has revolutionized access to both information and misinformation. Skills such as bias recognition and critical thinking are more imperative than in any other time to separate truth from false or misleading information. Meanwhile, education has not evolved with these changes. The average individual is more likely to come to uninformed conclusions and less likely to listen to differing perspectives. Moreover, technology is further complicating and compounding other issues in the political process. All of this is manifesting in division among the American people who elect more polarized politicians who increasingly fail to find avenues for compromise.

In an effort to address these trends, we founded a student organization, The Political Literates, to fight political apathy by delivering political news in an easy to understand and unbiased manner. Inspired by our experience with this organization, we combine our insights with research to paint a new perspective on the state of the American political system.

This thesis analyzes various issues identified through our observations and research, with a heavy emphasis on using examples from the 2016 election. Our focus is how new technologies like data analytics, the Internet, smartphones, and social media are changing politics by driving political and social transformation. We identify and analyze five core issues that have been amplified by new technology, hindering the effectiveness of elections and further increasing political polarization:

● Gerrymandering which skews partisan debate by forcing politicians to pander to ideologically skewed districts.
● Consolidation of media companies which affects the diversity of how news is shared.
● Repeal of the Fairness Doctrine which allowed media to become more partisan.
● The Citizens United Ruling which skews power away from average voters in elections.
● A Failing Education System which does not prepare Americans to be civically engaged and to avoid being swayed by biased or untrue media.

Based on our experiment with the Political Literates and our research, we call for improving how critical thinking and civics is taught in the American education system. Critical thought and civics must be developed pervasively. With this, more people would be able to form more sophisticated views by listening to others to learn rather than win, listening less to irrelevant information, and forming a culture with more engagement in politics. Through this re-enlightenment, many of America’s other problems may evaporate or become more actionable.

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2019-05

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An Analysis of Confucianism's Influence on China's Social Credit System

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There are two main motivations for conducting this analysis. The first motivation is to understand the Social Credit System (SCS) itself: what it is, why it’s being developed, and what implications it may have for China and the rest of

There are two main motivations for conducting this analysis. The first motivation is to understand the Social Credit System (SCS) itself: what it is, why it’s being developed, and what implications it may have for China and the rest of the world. The Social Credit System is a novel idea—it’s the first ever use of AI and machine learning technology by a government for the purposes of social engineering. The long-term consequences of this technology will have a monumental impact on the Chinese peoples’ well-being. Potential implications of the system range from impacts on privacy and activism to whether other countries are inspired to develop a similar technology. There are also many different implementations for this system, each with its own outcome. This system is a consequence of the increasing capabilities of technology and an experimental approach influenced heavily by China’s culture and history, which leads to the second motivation.
Confucianism’s historical influence on China’s culture has made the Social Credit System seem like a good solution to many of China’s major societal problems. As such, the second motivation is to evaluate the impact Confucianism has on the development of the system; this involves understanding what Confucianism is, identifying parallels between it and the SCS, and analyzing how it may affect the Chinese people reaction to a full-fledged SCS. Understanding Confucianism may also illuminate why the government believes this is a good idea, what direction it may want to take this, and what boundaries, if any, the Chinese citizens have. We chose to analyze the SCS from a Confucian perspective because it has played a large role in influencing Chinese culture and history for over 2000 years. The Chinese people have been especially drawn to it in recent years due to increasing corruption, increasing inequality, decreasing trust, and increased social instability.
Although Confucianism may have a significant influence on the development of the SCS, there are also other influences in the mix. One of these influences is China’s AI competition with the US; relaxing privacy protections has given China an enormous amount of data to feed its AI. This system is also another avenue for China to develop their algorithms. There are also the motivations of the Communist party of China. These motivations include market reform, governmental reform, authoritarian interests and bureaucratic interests.

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Date Created
2019-05

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The Roots of Forgiveness Communication in Relation to Families

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Building on research on family communication and forgiveness, this study seeks to understand how families communicate the value and practice of forgiveness. Through semi-structured interviews, the study asks participants to recall their formative conversations and experiences about forgiveness with their

Building on research on family communication and forgiveness, this study seeks to understand how families communicate the value and practice of forgiveness. Through semi-structured interviews, the study asks participants to recall their formative conversations and experiences about forgiveness with their family members and to discuss how those conversations influenced their current perspectives on forgiveness. Interviews from five female undergraduate students yielded seven main themes from where individuals learn how to forgive: 1) Sibling conflicts, 2) Family conversations about friendship conflicts, 3) Conversations with Mom, 4) Living by example, 5) Take the high road, 6) “Life’s too short”, and 7) Messages rooted in faith and morality.

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Date Created
2021-05