Happy Sunday – and welcome to the best of The Conversation.

In one of last week’s readers’ picks, a professor who teaches the modern history of the Middle East, Rochelle Anne Davis, and one who focuses on modern Eastern Europe, Eileen Kane, look at “educational gag orders.” They call Florida Law SB 266, which passed last month, an “extreme example.”

Among other provisions, the Florida law forbids professors to teach that systemic racism is “inherent in the institutions of the United States.”

It’s easy to dismiss these types of laws as just another battle in the country’s culture wars or political grandstanding on the part of presidential hopefuls. But Davis and Kane see troubling parallels in the “war on woke” to illiberal democracies like those in Russian and Poland.

Later this week we’ll bring you stories about the cybersecurity benefits of working from home, the European Union’s new human rights law and using poetry to teach math.

Emily Costello

Director of Collaborations + Local News

Readers' picks

Recent heat waves underscore Earth’s new climate state. Sean Gladwell via Getty Images

Is it really hotter now than any time in 100,000 years?

Darrell Kaufman, Northern Arizona University

Long before thermometers, nature left its own temperature records. A climate scientist explains how ongoing global warming compares with ancient temperatures.

Editors' picks

Buoy barriers are shown in the middle of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, on July 18, 2023. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Federal government is challenging Texas’s buoys in the Rio Grande – here’s why these kinds of border blockades wind up complicating immigration enforcement

Jean Lantz Reisz, University of Southern California

Setting up buoys in a section of the Rio Grande is more likely to result in migrants seeking pathways elsewhere, rather than deterring migration altogether.

News Quiz 🧠

  • The Conversation U.S. weekly news quiz

    Test your knowledge with a weekly quiz drawn from some of our favorite stories. Questions this week on Teamsters, Tony Bennett, Taylor Swift and the Coriolis effect.

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