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Tom Arnold on Concern Worldwide

Question: What originally sparked your interest in international development?

Arnold:    I’ve been involved in it for a very long time and interested in it.  I think as a child I became interested in these issues, and, well, I studied Agriculture Economics, which I thought had a connection to this.  I had the opportunity in my late 20’s to go and work in Africa for three years, which I did in the agricoast in Malawi, and then, even though subsequently I was working in the public service in Ireland and at European level, when an opportunity came to work with Concern, some seven years ago, I took it because Concern is, in my view, a great organization, and it was an opportunity to come in as Chief Executive and I think it’s been a wonderful seven years and I really enjoyed it and I think we have achieved a great deal over those [IB].

Question: How does Concern Worldwide confront issues affecting the developing world?

Arnold:    We work in almost 30 countries, almost 20 of those are in Africa, the rest in Asia, apart from Haiti, which is the only country outside of Africa and Asia we work in.  We deal in both emergency response and in long term development work, and we’re particularly involved in the whole area of health, food security, improving livelihoods, education and HIV/AIDS.

Question: Is development work fundamentally a human rights issue?

Arnold:    I think human rights is, you know, at the foundation of development work.  I mean, at the end of the day, people have the right to food.  They have a right to water.  They have a right to the very basic, the existent…  They have a right to all the things that we take for granted as rights in these countries, and I think that has to be the foundation stone of where, of how people go about.  Now, you know, how that’s expressed in different countries will depend on the political climate there.  I mean, Concern doesn’t always trumpet the human rights agenda because the sort of, many of the countries we’re working in, if we were to do that, our practical effectiveness on the ground could well be compromised.  But what we do in our work day in and day out is absolutely trying to vindicate the human rights of the very poorest people and, in my view, that is what, you know, we will be continuing to do for many years to come.

The CEO talks about his international development work at Concern.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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R.P. Eddy wrote about a coming pandemic in 2017. Why didn't we listen?

In his book with Richard Clarke, "Warnings," Eddy made clear this was inevitable.

Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
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  • "You never get credit for correctly predicting an outbreak," says science journalist Laurie Garrett in the book.
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Creativity: The science behind the madness

Human brains evolved for creativity. We just have to learn how to access it.

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  • According to Eagleman, during evolution there was an increase in space between our brain's input and output that allows information more time to percolate. We also grew a larger prefrontal cortex which "allows us to simulate what ifs, to separate ourselves from our location in space and time and think about possibilities."
  • Scott Barry Kaufman details 3 brain networks involved in creative thinking, and Wendy Suzuki busts the famous left-brain, right-brain myth.

What if Middle-earth was in Pakistan?

Iranian Tolkien scholar finds intriguing parallels between subcontinental geography and famous map of Middle-earth.

Image: Mohammad Reza Kamali, reproduced with kind permission
Strange Maps
  • J.R.R. Tolkien hinted that his stories are set in a really ancient version of Europe.
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  • These intriguing similarities with Asian topography show that it may be time to 'decolonise' Middle-earth.
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New study explores how to navigate 'desire discrepancies' in long term relationships

With the most common form of female sexual dysfunction impacting 1 in 10 women, this important study dives into how to keep a relationship going despite having different needs and wants in the bedroom.

NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • A new study highlights the difficulties faced by women who struggle with decreased sexual desire, and explains how to navigate desire discrepancies in long-term relationships.
  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is one of the most common forms of female sexual dysfunction, impacting an estimated 1 in 10 women.
  • Finding other ways to promote intimacy in your relationship is one of the keys to ensuring happiness on both sides.

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