What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Scholarships and Solo Cups: The Risks and Rewards of Fraternity Life

August 4, 2014, 3:00 PM

What's the Latest?

In February, The Atlantic published a powerful and revealing article about frat culture penned by Caitlin Flanagan. The piece, titled "The Dark Power of Fraternities," was the culmination of a yearlong investigation that focused on prevalent patterns in the broad pool of litigation brought against fraternities and their members. It's both fascinating and horrifying; I recommend you give it a read if you haven't already (though reserve a solid chunk of time to get through it).

An article posted last week on InsuranceNewsNet rekindles the conversation about fraternities and risk. The phrase "fraternities and risk" can refer to two different topics that exist in duality with each other. 1) Do you run a risk when you associate with these organizations? 2) How do fraternities manage their own organizational risk?

What's the Big Idea?

Full disclosure: I was a fraternity member during my undergrad and received a major award from the national council upon graduating (so you can imagine how much of the Kool Aid I drank). I attended a smaller school without official frat houses so my experience differed from the norm, but the wisdom allotted to me through years of reflection has led me to realize I took a great risk when I invested myself in fraternity life. I was fortunate not to have run into a situation where I was liable for instances of bad behavior by my fellow members. As is the case with almost every fraternity, the values espoused in charters and handbooks were treated more like guidelines than rules -- like 65 mph speed limits on an expressway where no one drives below 80.

Still, I can attribute a lot of my personal successes to the connections (and friends) I made during my fraternity experience. There are still plenty of benefits in going Greek, but the decision has to be buoyed with knowledge about the specific group you intend to join. Any fraternity, sorority, firm, or company that ignores its core values puts itself at major internal and external risk. Some Greek organizations do their best to abide by the tenets of their creed. Other don't.

That said, one major affliction shared by fraternities in both boats is an unhealthy drinking culture. In Flanagan's article, she details all the instances of fraternity litigation she could find; every single one involved alcohol. Even more unsettling are the systems put in place by the national bodies of the most powerful organizations to shift blame and prevent plaintiffs -- often female victims of sexual assault -- from obtaining financial compensation. 

Binge drinking and sexual assault aren't problems exclusive to fraternities; they're issues sordidly entrenched in American college culture (and often treated as routine rather than as the crises they are). But there exists an insular kind of hive-mind mentality within fraternities that augments egregious behaviors and beliefs. It's that sort of organizational softening-of-inhibitions that makes good fraternities risky and bad fraternities dangerous.

Read more at Insurance News Net

Photo credit: Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock


Scholarships and Solo Cups:...

Newsletter: Share: