At a time of global conflict, climate change, environmental disaster, extreme weather, affordability pressures, health-care crunches and inflation, it seems like our current era is battling crises on all fronts. We’re currently experiencing a polycrisis, a moment in time “where social, political, economic, environmental and other systems are not only deeply interrelated, but nearly all of them are under strain or experiencing some kind of disaster or extreme upheaval.”

In an in-depth article from The Conversation’s Insights series, Daniel Hoyer at the University of Toronto writes about a new field of historical study called cliodynamics, which investigates how complex systems change over time. It’s a scientific approach to the study of history, and uses scientific research tools like statistical analysis and computational models to reveal information and patterns about the past.

One of the patterns revealed in the research is that, at other moments of polycrisis, extreme inequality is present. “When big gaps exist between the haves and have-nots, not just in material wealth but also access to positions of power,” Hoyer writes, “this breeds frustration, dissent and turmoil.”

Also today:

Nehal El-Hadi

Science + Technology Editor

The Death of Julius Caesar, an 1806 painting by Vincenzo Camuccini. Wikipedia

History’s crisis detectives: How we’re using maths and data to reveal why societies collapse – and clues about the future

Daniel Hoyer, University of Toronto

Historian and complexity scientist, Dan Hoyer, examines why past societies collapsed when faced with crisis, while others founds ways to survive and flourish.

A disabled young female macaque named Monmo at the Awajishima Monkey Center in Japan. (Sarah E. Turner)

Defying expectations, disabled Japanese macaques survive by adjusting their behaviours and receiving support

Sarah E. Turner, Concordia University; Brogan M. Stewart, Concordia University; Jack Creeggan, Concordia University; Megan M. Joyce, Concordia University; Mikaela Gerwing, Concordia University; Stephanie Eccles, Concordia University

A community of macaques in Japan has a high rate of disabled individuals who survive with behavioural flexibility and maternal care. Globally, primate disabilities are often related to human causes.

Auditor General Karen Hogan testifies before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts in Ottawa on Feb. 12, 2024. She came to some harsh conclusions about the management of the ArriveCan app. Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick

The ArriveCan scandal: How can we avoid similar problems in the future?

Annie Lecompte, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

The cost overruns of the ArriveCan app are exceptional, but the scandal is not unique in history. There are solutions available to prevent the excessive use of public funds.

People walking on a pathway watch crews flood the ice on the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa on Feb. 17, 2024. The Skateway opened in late January but mild weather and freezing rain forced it to close after only four days. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

How global warming is reshaping winter life in Canada

H. Damon Matthews, Concordia University; Mitchell Dickau, Concordia University

Global warming is melting away an iconic cornerstone of Canadian culture — outdoor skating.

A study of more than 155,000 students in the Toronto District School Board found only 55 per cent of students who self-identify as Black are applying to post-secondary education. (Shutterstock)

How high school ‘university’ courses matter for all post-secondary access — more than the name implies

Kelly Gallagher-Mackay, Wilfrid Laurier University; Carl E. James, York University, Canada; Christine Corso, University of Toronto; Gillian Parekh, York University, Canada; Robert S. Brown, York University, Canada

All students who apply to university need ‘U’ courses, but Toronto-area research reveals few students with zero Grade 12 ‘U’ courses apply for any post-secondary education at all.

Homes under construction in a new suburb of Ottawa in October 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada is a suburban nation because of post-Second World War government policy

David L.A. Gordon, Queen's University, Ontario

Following the Second World War, the federal government led the country’s transformation from a rural to a suburban nation, despite lacking any constitutional jurisdiction in community planning.

Collecting genetic information for the purposes of determining life insurance protections could lead to genetic discrimination. (Shutterstock)

Canada’s Genetic Non-Discrimination Act has only had a limited impact on the use of genetic information by life insurers

Diya Uberoi, McGill University; Yann Joly, McGill University

Canada needs additional regulation, developed through public consultations, stakeholder collaborations and community partnerships, to help regulate genetic testing and prevent genetic discrimination.

La Conversation Canada

Les entreprises ne seront pas mieux gérées avec l'arrivée de l'IA… bien au contraire. (Shutterstock)

L'IA ne révolutionnera pas la gestion des entreprises… au contraire

Guillaume Desjardins, Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO)

L’intégration d’un outil rationnel dans un environnement irrationnel ne donne pas toujours les résultats anticipés !



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