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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.

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Question: How has academia changed?

Paul Krugman: It’s become much more internationalized.  And actually I think there are . . . there are absolutely fewer Americans in my field than there used to be, because a lot of the bright kids who might have an aptitude for economics also have an aptitude for investment banking.  And that kind of . . . you know I can’t blame them for doing that.  More important, there’s actually been a thinning of the boundaries.  It used to be that an Economics professor was an Economics professor, and it was actually quite rare for them to get involved in other things – at least on an extended basis.  And now it’s become more or less expected if you’re, you know . . . if you’re talented or if you make a mark, that you’re going to in a way have a second life.  You do your research probably for 10, 15 years to really become established.  But after that, while you may continue to do research – we hope you will – to get involved in policy, to get involved in affairs is standard.  I mean if you actually go back, my cohort in economics . . .  There were . . .  There were three guys who were sort of very . . .  There were obviously a number of very good people, but people who tended to be talked about as having stuff that they were going to do.  There was me.  There was a guy named Larry Summers.  And there was a guy named Jeff Sachs.  And we all went to school together, actually.  We all went to grad school together.  And we’ve all had interesting second acts in our lives.


Paul Krugman on Contemporar...

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