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Most sport is played by non-professionals in Australia such as this college challenge. Flickr/SPORTSPICS

Better data reporting will prevent sports injuries and deaths

Australia is a sporting nation and the tragic death of batsman Phil Hughes is still very much in the hearts and minds of fans and players alike. Deaths in sport are rare but history does tell us that they…
We know different coloured plates can affect how food ‘tastes’ … and now we know that the same applies to coffee. Esti Alvarez/Flickr

Bitter coffee today? Try changing the colour of your cup

In Australia, around a billion cups of coffee a year are consumed in cafés, restaurants and other outlets. Even Britain, a nation famous for its fondness for tea, has in recent years seen a dramatic rise…
The Toronto G20 summit showed what starts out as a peaceful protest can turn into a violent clash. EPA/Sergei Ilinitsky

G20 lockdown: the challenge of balancing freedom and security

The Brisbane G20 summit is shaping up to to be Australia’s largest security operation. In recent decades, most large-scale protests in Australia have been relatively peaceful events, but the policing of…
When Joe Hockey argues against dole-bludgers is he talking about individuals - or the entire welfare state? Alan Porritt/AAP

Bludgers and battlers are back as Hockey takes aim at welfare state

Bludgers are back, and with them their traditional sparring partners, the battlers. The welfare changes in the Abbott government’s first budget have created fierce debate. On the side of the government…
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and actor Emma Watson launched the HeForShe Campaign at the United Nations headquarters in New York, 20 September. EPA/JASON SZENES

126,000 reasons why the Emma Watson hoax isn’t all bad news

In less than a week since actor Emma Watson’s stirring United Nations speech on gender inequality, two big things have happened – but you’ve probably only heard about one of them. The first, which has…
Women are now established in the workforce, but are still required to conform to expectations of femininity. Shutterstock/Pressmaster

Women face a Catch 22 despite three-decade shift in gender roles

Research on gender roles has shown that individuals consider men to embody more masculine (e.g. assertive, dominant) traits than women, and women to embody more feminine (e.g. gentle, sensitive) traits…
A field of poppies, symbolising the soldiers' sacrifice, has been sown in Northwood, London, for the centenary of the First World War, but the civilian losses are no less worthy of remembrance. AAP/Newzulu/Stephen Chung

On Hiroshima Day, remember the civilian victims of ‘total war’

Hiroshima Day is the closest we come to a day that focuses on the plight of civilians in war. The two atomic bombs dropped on Japan immediately killed over 120,000 civilians, but over the years the day…
Whoa there, little lady: women in the workforce face a financial penalty for simply being female. Flickr/ Boston Public Library

Not missing in action: the enduring penalty of ‘being female’

While many aspects of working life have changed in recent decades, the inequality of outcomes experienced by male and female employees has been remarkably resistant. Within corporate Australia the proportion…
US president Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Medicare Bill into law in 1965, one of a suite of policies aimed at ending poverty in America. LBJ Library

How crusade to end ‘age of entitlement’ replaced ‘war on poverty’

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of president Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in the United States. Whatever people might think of Johnson’s actions in southeast Asia, it’s worth pausing to remember his…
The big question around Indonesia’s presidential election is whether it will be able to provide a new kind of political leadership. AAP/W.F Srihardian

Prabowo vs Jokowi: the race between Indonesia’s old and new guard

Indonesians will next month cast their votes in their third presidential election since the end of president Suharto’s “New Order” regime in 1998. The new democracy has struggled to establish effective…
While Australia takes centre stage as this year’s G20 host, some of Joe Hockey’s budget policies are on the group’s ideological fringes. AAP/Daniel Munoz

As G20 host, our welfare policy is exposed to an unflattering light

Australia is hosting the G20 this year and showcasing to the world its approach to welfare policy: deny young people income support for up to six months and instead make more food vouchers available. This…
Are you feeling warm or cold by the colours? Flickr/Joe

Is red warmer than blue? What colours can tell you

In a typical kitchen or bathroom you often find the hot and cold water taps labelled red and blue. It’s common practice in industrial and interior design in many parts of the world to present information…
Many guns stolen from rural farm sheds are later used in crimes in the city. Bamcat/Flickr

Theft of guns from farms and urban crime inextricably linked

Revelations of the theft of firearms from Victorian MP Peter Crisp’s farm draws attention to a genuine but often overlooked link between farm crime and criminal events in urban communities. Discussions…
Education minister Christopher Pyne makes ‘school autonomy’ sound great, but what are the benefits for students? www.shutterstock.com.au

Why the push for greater school autonomy, and what does it mean for schools?

Federal education minister Christopher Pyne has announced a scheme to make Australian schools “more autonomous”. Amid the fanfare of the announcement there was little detail except the hope that by 2017…
How can ‘disadvantaged’ students engage better in school? www.shutterstock.com.au

Education policy is failing to fix the biggest problem: inequality

The Conversation is running a series, Class in Australia, to identify, illuminate and debate its many manifestations. Here, John Smyth identifies the failure of government policies to tackle the nation’s…
Sport is often compared with religion in Australia. But how do fans' relationships with their football teams manifest? AAP/Joe Castro

More than a game: how attached are we to our teams?

At some point, you’ve no doubt heard someone say “football is my religion”. And if we follow French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s famous building blocks for religion, we will find that football is not far…
The historic homestead Wallarah House burnt to the ground in the recent NSW bushfires. AAP/Dean Lewins

When our cultural heritage goes up in smoke

This month’s New South Wales fire emergency has again focused attention on the threat to life and property caused by fire. With thousands of hectares of bushland already burnt out, the impact on natural…
Levels of masculinity vary for men and women depending on if the questions are asked online or offline. Helga Weber

How much of a man are you? Being online can change that

How masculine are you? This might seem a fairly simple question, especially if you’re asked to fill out a simple ten-question survey investigating traits such as “aggressive” and “forceful”. But it may…
A decision by the Labor Government to transfer sole parents onto the lower Newstart allowance has been internationally criticised. AAP

We should be shamed by our record on child poverty

Last night’s story by the ABC’s Four Corners program on the precarious plight of the unemployed gave the nation an object lesson on empathy, a salutary exposé for those who prefer to trust in sophisticated…
There are plenty of misunderstandings about what regional universities do, but they can play a big part in shaping Australia’s future in the knowledge economy. Flickr/WilLiao

Clever regional unis can form the backbone of a clever country

Most urban Australians don’t tend to think about regional Australia, and when they do it’s often hazy notions of a place blighted by natural disasters, economic gloom and declining population. But for…

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