Electronic Journal of Comparative Legal and Social Studies @ Faculty of LAW, UiTM

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We are calling for paper for our recently launched Electronic Journal of Comparative Legal and Social Studies (eCLASS). The journal aims to contribute to advancing our understanding of law and social studies from a global perspective. The journal adopted an inclusive understanding of comparative legal studies, unlimited in its geographical focus and range of legal topics.

To achieve this aim, the journal welcomes contributions of articles, research commmentaries, case comments and reviews that encourage discussion of the current state of the law, with an emphasis placed on comparative subject matter.

eCLASS is an electronic peer-reviewed journal from Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. For further information please visit us at http://www.law.uitm.edu.my/eclass/

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International Conference on Law, Policy and Social Justice 2014 (ICLAPS 2014) 13 – 14 August 2014, Penang, Malaysia

Mark your calendar and make plans to attend the International Conference on Law, Policy and Social Justice 2014 (ICLAPS 2014) scheduled to be held on the 13 – 14 August 2014 in Penang, Malaysia. This conference is jointly organised by the Faculty of Law, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam and the Law Department, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Kedah. The Conference will carry the theme: “Harmonising Law and Social Norms”.

Everything you need to know about the conference will be posted on this web site, so book mark this site and visit us frequently for updates. As plans for the conference progress, you will be able to submit your abstract online, register for the conference online and even find out about airline, hotel and other travel arrangements.

This international conference will provide numerous opportunities for participants to share up-to-date information and research, and to discuss common concerns with colleagues from around the world on current key issues and developments affecting law, policy and social justice. This exchange of information is vital to promote interdisciplinary discussion on the interaction between norms, rules and law and their contribution to the fulfillment of social needs and aspirations. It is hoped that the conference will provide a broad platform for academicians, policy makers, researchers, and practitioners to interact and share their knowledge, experience and expertise.

The organisers hope you will mark your calendar now and set aside funds in your budget so you can participate in this event and look forward to see you in Penang. Please take note of the important dates in making your plans:

Submission of abstract                         15th April 2014

Notification of abstract acceptance    30th April 2014

Early bird payment                             30th May 2014

Submission of full paper                     15th July 2014

Payment due date                               30th July 2014

Please contact the conference organisers if you have any questions in regards to:

Abstract and Full Paper and Registration
Dr. Nuraisyah Chua Abdullah
+603 55435954
email: nuraisyah@salam.uitm.edu.my

Fee
Syatirah Abu Bakar
+604 4562142
email: syatirah@kedah.uitm.edu.my

Looking forward to see all of you there. Thank you 🙂

http://iclaps.org/

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Book of the Week: The Age of Turbulence

Image…but it’s almost 600 pages! Errrr…maybe it’ll be the book of the month 😛

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Review: Future Minds

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Future Minds by Richard Watson is an easy read. It’s a book preaching for balance between the analogue and digital, physical and virtual, ancient and modern world, in order to ‘save’ the quality of our thinking and idea generation. Watson argues that idea generation requires a balance between having a peace and quiet thinking spaces for deep thinking and our interactions with objects and environments to bounce off ideas. This book focuses on harnessing the potential of the digital ‘revolution’ while minimizing its negative sides. He lays out “how the digital age is changing our minds, why this matters, and what we can do about it.”

Watson believes that our over reliance on digital technology is affecting our ability to do creative, conceptual thinking, which only happens when we make time and space to ‘deep think’. In his view, our constant attachment to our digital and electronic gadgets is not only distracting us, but also creating lesser opportunity to create an original mind, is affecting our ability to concentrate, and turning our society into an impatient, isolated, and detached from reality kind of society. A society composed of ‘individuals who are unable to think by themselves in the real world.’

He highlighted some of the dangers of the current emerging trends; including:

  • Web Anonymity – ‘The anonymity of the web is eroding empathy, encouraging antisocial behavior, and promoting virtual courage over real emotion. At the same time, oversharing information about our precise location or interests may let us know who else is in the vicinity, but it is also making us vulnerable to everyone from advertisers to burglars. Digital immortality also means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to forget previous actions or to get past our past.’
  • Rapid Information Transmission – ‘One of the consequences of rapid information transmission is that we increasingly fail to think properly about the validity of incoming or outgoing information; we are too busy and there is too much of it.’
  • Multitasking Mayhem – ‘Screenagers (teenagers who read on screens) have a predilection for multitasking and parallel processing’. However, several studies have found that multitasking had an adverse effect on learning. ‘Scientist discovered that ‘the constant switching required to multitask effectively is damaging some of our high-level brain functions, especially those related to memory and learning.’

There are also a couple of findings or ‘realization’ in the book that I found interesting to be shared here:

  • ‘The talk of the two sides of the brain is actually highly misleading. The two sides are intimately interconnected and we cannot function well unless both halves are working correctly. Indeed it might be better to think of the two brains rather than one brain split into two. Watson quoted a researcher, Robert Ornstein, stating that “it’s simply that one side is much better at some things and vice versa. But it is still better for each side of the brain to rub and polish itself against the other.”
  • A key finding of a ‘mini’ research undertaken by Watson for the book, is – most people’s best thinking is done away from the workplace, because arguably ‘the brain needs to be in a relaxed (non work) mode to do this’. Watson believe that one have to stop thinking before you can get an idea. (I can vouch for this – I got the connection to my data and the findings to my thesis, while I was walking home from my office one evening. It was such a eureka moment, I quickly ran through the whole idea again into my mobile phone’s voice recorder and afterwards almost ran all the way home in total joy. The week before that I was so overwhelmed that I was sitting on too much data that I could not process any of it.)
  • Sustaining a business is very much like gardening.
  • There’s actually benefits to boredom 🙂
  • In generating ideas, Watson points out that Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman argue that a little disorder can be healthy: “Moderately disorganized people, institutions and systems frequently turn out to be more resilient, more creative and in general more effective than highly organized ones.” The trick is according to Watson is to find a good balance between chaos and order and to clean up your desk every so often. Even Albert Einstein was quoted saying: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?”

In overall, Future Minds’ emphasis, lies in the claim that due to the ‘invasion’ of these gadgets (and their screens) in our lives, the future ‘will belong not to logical men and women who can acquire, digest and regurgitate data, but to deep thinkers and innovative organizations that can spot anomalies, ask original questions, and dream up fresh ideas – deep thinkers that will make the world a better place’. As knowledge is becoming instantly available to almost everyone, one skill he argued that people will need to acquire in the future is ‘not spot knowledge or knowing things per se, but knowing how things relate to one another… value will lie …in the ability to create and cross-fertilize ideas to create new knowledge. This is the world of multiple types of intelligence and deep thinking.’

So how then do we create deep thinkers in this digital age?

The final part of Future Minds outlines ten tips on fostering creative, wide and reflective thinking. It discusses what we can do to improve the quality of our thinking and strive at striking a balance between our use of digital devices and our relationship with each other. Watson emphasized that we should take steps to reclaim the time and space to think. His main concern – computers are starting to prevent us from thinking, instead of being tools to help us think. He claimed that “we have now become so obsessed with asking whether something can be done (invented) that we leave little or no time to consider whether it should be done.”

His final thoughts were ‘…currently, we are still the smartest things around and if we do not like what we can see in the future, there’s still time to change it. It might be a good idea to sit down, open a window, and ponder this thought for a little while.’

This book is published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2010. You can get it online from Abebooks.com with a starting price of RM52 (including postage).

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You are more beautiful than you think

Sometimes we wonder why we looked different in mirrors or photos. Perhaps it’s just the mirror or camera. Perhaps it’s our personality and character that a mirror or photo can never ‘reflect’. But perhaps it’s simply due to our own self-perceptions.

Watch this and be surprised. Perhaps ‘our self perceptions are generally kind of harsh and unbecoming, when really that’s not how the world sees us.’

“You are more beautiful than you think.”

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Book of the Week – Future Minds

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Review: How Children Succeed

Pic How Child Succeed

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough is a very interesting book on the discovery of what are the ‘things’ that makes successful children ‘successful’. The book is written into 5 main chapters. However, reading the 5 chapters can be a slight challenge into one’s ‘mind-map’ of the book. It is not written in a linear way. It somewhat feel this is a book of a story within another story, albeit various of them weaved together, highlighted from time to time by Tough in his writing and referencing.  This is understandable, given the subject matter the author was trying to deal with in the book. But I do find myself at times, lost in my ‘grasp’ and having to flipped to the earlier discussion in the book to keep track with the information shared by the author. In trying to tell a story of what are the links between childhood stress and children’s backgrounds early in life with future success, Tough kept introducing to the readers the experiences of  educators and researchers in various forms of projects, researches, (albeit relevant) and the children they helped, including sometimes his own experience in these projects and researches. Keeping up with all these information can be slightly overwhelming.

In an overview, the book is written on the premise that “Character Strength” is the key to how children succeed in life. A child with ‘character’, who most likely will lead a more fulfilling life, is said to posses the qualities of ‘perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self control’.

However, the author clearly emphasized that several studies have proven, (and I quote): ‘that character strengths are not innate; they don’t appear in us magically, as a result of good luck or good genes. And they are not simply a choice. They are rooted in brain chemistry, and they are molded, in measurable and predictable ways, by the environment in which the children grow up.’

Tough therefore, stressed that the society as a whole can do a lot more to influence the development in children. Parents are an excellent vehicle for the kind of interventions that will help the children develop those strengths and skills, starting at birth and going all the way through college. But they are not the only one that could do so. As touch further emphasized: ‘Transformative help (should/could) also comes regularly from social workers, teachers, clergy members, pediatricians, and neighbors.’ And this ‘help’ is especially true, and needed when it comes to children who came from the least privileged and problematic (abuse, neglect) backgrounds.

So we’re not born with all those qualities which stood for ‘character strength’. What then?How do we ‘instill’ them in our children? Or in certain circumstances how do we avoid them from not being ‘instill’ in our children? Several points presented by the author therefore, is of utmost importance to be considered:

1) Stress affect our brain chemistry and its reaction to it – (What to avoid)

Parents and caregivers must understand how stress affect our brain chemistry and its reaction to it, especially in children. As Tough points out: ‘The part of the brain most affected by early stress (in a child’s life) is the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is critical in self-regulatory activities of all kinds, both emotional and cognitive. As a result, children who grew up in stressful environments generally find it harder to concentrate, harder to sit still, harder to rebound from disappointments, and harder to follow directions. And that has a direct effect on their performance in school.’ The author further emphasized that research has proven that ‘early stress and adversity can literally get under a child’s skin, where it can cause damage that lasts a lifetime.’

However, there is an effective antidote to the negative effect of stress on children, (which has also been proven by research) that is  – having a caring and nurturing parents (or caregivers). Tough stressed that research done by neuroscientist  Michael Meaney has shown that ‘The effect of good parenting is not just emotional or psychological, but also biochemical.’

2) Parent’s and Caregivers’ Attachment has an important role in building ‘character’ – (What to do)

Research quoted in the book also suggests that ‘regular good parenting can make a profound difference for a child’s future prospects’. In a study by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, it was shown that ‘babies whose parents responded readily and fully to their cries in the first month of their life were, at one year, more independent and intrepid than babies whose parents had ignored their cries. In preschool, the pattern continues – the children whose parents had responded most sensitively to their emotional needs as infants were the most self-reliant’. Bowlby & Ainsworth’s study contended that ‘warm, sensitive parental care, created a “secure base” from which a child could explore the world.’ This contention was also later proven by another research by Alan Scroufe and Byron Egeland, who did a long term study low income mothers and their children in Minneapolis.

If we were to relate the importance of caring and nurturing parents in children’s overcoming/managing stress, all these studies, according to Tough show that ‘the early nurturing attention from (their) mothers had fostered in them (the children) a resilience that acted as a protective buffers against stress’.  These children, when encountering the challenges in life, were able to ‘assert themselves, draw on reserves of self-confidence, and make their way forward’.

But how about those children coming from the least privileged and problematic (abuse, violence, neglect) backgrounds? What chance do they have at being successful when many of their parents have difficulty to form a secure attachment with their children, especially when they themselves were raised by an insecure parents once, trapped in such a vicious cycle of life?

In answering this, Tough quoted the views of Alicia Lieberman, who runs a Child Trauma Research Program in San Francisco, ‘the fact is that parents can overcome histories of trauma and poor attachment; they can change their approach to their children from one that produces anxious attachment to one that promotes secure attachment and healthy functioning. Some parents can accomplish this transformation on their own, but most need help.’

These two points are some of the gist of the book’s discussion. There are a whole lot more that you may find interesting and intriguing. One of them is an assertion by Martin Seligman,  highlighted by the author, that ‘the most fruitful time to transform pessimistic children into optimistic ones was “before puberty but late enough in childhood so that they are meta-cognitive (capable of thinking about thinking).” ‘ So if you are a parent you might want to consider that, every time you plan on ‘nagging’ you child 🙂

This book is published by Random House Book, 2013. You can get it online from MPH (if in Malaysia) with a starting price of RM54.

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