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Society

Jealousy, Prejudice and Discrimination

Reading: Jealousy, Prejudice, and Short People

Downshifting: a new way to become happier?

Reading:

Originally the term "downshifting" referred to changing down a gear, in a manual geared car, to slow the car in addition to using the brakes.
 
In recent usage, the term is used to mean the gradual process of changing your life so it is simpler, quieter, balanced, and much less stressful.  
 
What is a downshifter?  
 
Downshifters are people who adopt long-term voluntary simplicity in their life. They accept less money through fewer hours worked in order to have time for the important things in life. Downshifters also place emphasis on consuming less in order to reduce their ecological footprint.  

Junk Food Ban

Talking Points

Speaking multiple languages can give you multiple personalities

Reading: 

The idea that language affects the way we look at the world is hardly new. But could your personality actually change depending on which language you're speaking? That's the idea put forward by a new psychological study.

Tests and Exams

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you have standardized exams for students in your country?
  2. Have you taken a standardized exam? Why did you take it? Were you happy with the results?
  3. Do you think they are useful? Do you think they are fair?
  4. Do you think they are a good assessment for how well a student is learning? Should there be exams or tests at all?

Tests and Exams

Questions for discussion:

Privacy

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is privacy?
  2. How do you maintain your privacy at home? At school?On the Internet? When using Facebook? When you travel? When talking on the phone?
  3. What are the reasons why privacy is important for you?
  4. To what extent do public officials have a right to privacy?

New Year Season

Questions for discussion: 

  1. This is the season of gift giving. Do you have trouble picking out gifts for family members and friends? Do you prefer to buy gifts or do you give gifts that you've made yourself? Do you think consumerism has replaced the real spirit of the holidays? 
  2. Russia has among the longest federal holiday seasons. Do you think the holidays should be made shorter or stay the way they are? What are good and bad things about being on vacation for so long? Would you rather have federal holidays some other time of year? 

Imports versus Domestic

Questions for discussion:

  1. Have the sanctions affected you? If so, in what way ? 
  2. Have you seen the impact of of food import bans? 
  3. Why do you think people prefer Western products (food/cars/electronics)?
  4. Do you think sanctions were reasonably imposed by the west?

  5. Do you think sanctions are here to stay? 
  6. Do you prefer to holiday abroad? If so why or why not? 

Crisis

Questions for discussion:

Crisis

Questions for discussion:

Euthanasia

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is the difference between euthanasia and suicide?
  2. Is there a difference between euthanasia and murder?
  3. Does a family member or a doctor have the right to turn off a life support machine?
  4. How long should doctors keep someone alive who is brain dead?

The problem of choice

Reading:

Should Governments Nudge Us to Make Good Choices?

Our decisions are constantly shaped by subtle changes in our environment. Even choices that feel deliberate and conscious can be swayed by cues that we may not even notice, such as social norms or the setting of a default option. Behavioral scientists use the phrase “choice architecture” to describe the ways in which the environment influences how we decide.

Alcohol

Questions for discussion:

  1. Is it possible to balance alcohol consumption and a healthy lifestyle?
  2. What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?
  3. Should parents be able to determine drinking age for their children before the age of 18 (as opposed to the government controlling this)?
  4. Drink driving: in some countries it’s ok to drink a little before driving. Is it possible to have similar law in Russia? Why or why not?

Stereotypes about Russians

List of stereotypes:

  1. All wealthy Russians are gangsters or had made their money illegally
  2. All Russian politicians are corrupt. 
  3. Russian women are the most beautiful.
  4. Russian men are alcoholics.
  5. Russians are unfriendly and never smile. 

Should gay marriages be legalized?

Reading:

Gay marriage declared legal across the US in historic supreme court ruling

Same-sex marriages are now legal across the entirety of the United States after a historic supreme court ruling that declared attempts by conservative states to ban them unconstitutional.

In what may prove the most important civil rights case in a generation, five of the nine court justices determined that the right to marriage equality was enshrined under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Should cannabis be legalised?

Reading: 

The National Cancer Institute Says Cannabis Kills Cancer

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) updated its website to include various studies revealing how cannabis may inhibit tumor growth by killing cells, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. The institute also said that cannabis does this while protecting healthy cells.

NCI released the following statement after updating its website:

Immigration/ Neighbors

Questions for discussion:

  1. What do you think it feels like to be an immigrant? Do you know any immigrants and do you know their stories?
  2. Who immigrates to Russia and why do you think they choose this country?
  3. Do you think immigrants benefit country’s economy?

Cloning

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is cloning?
  2. What are the advantages of cloning?
  3. What are the disadvantages of cloning?
  4. Do you think animals should be cloned?
  5. Do you think vegetables should be modified?

Discrimination

Questions for discussion:

  1. Have you ever been discriminated against?
  2. Why do people discriminate?
  3. Is discriminating against a certain group of people ever justified? (e.g. pedophiles)
  4. How do people fight discrimination? What could you do to reduce discrimination?
  5. Why do we treat people differently?

Retirement

Questions for discussion:

  1. What is the age for mandatory retirement in your country?
  2. At this stage of your life, are you beginning to make plans for your retirement years? Why?
  3. What would be a perfect retirement for you?
  4. Ranging from 1-10, 10 being the highest, how would you rate your career? Why?

Challenges of the modern civilization. Part 1

1. What do you think are some advantages and disadvantages of globalization?

2. Which countries do you think might be against globalization?

3. What do you think globalization will look like in the future?

4. How do you think Russia is similar/different to western countries?

5. Can you give some examples of exotic festivals that are celebrated in other countries?

6. What do you think are some of the biggest environmental problems in Russia?

Work & Happiness

1. Is it necessary for human beings to work to be happy?

2. Would an increase in salary motivate you to work longer hours at a job that you don’t like?

3. How would you motivate yourself to do the job that you don’t like?

4. Some psychologists suggest try to remember what the person wanted to do when they were a child to find their “dream” job, do you agree with this technique?

5. Do you think that woman and man approach the same work differently? Do you think they handle stress in a different way?

Genetic Engineering

Reading: 

"Genetic moderation"

WITH food security firmly on the international agenda, there's a growing appetite to look again at the opportunities promised by agricultural biotechnology.

Scientists working in this area are excited by new techniques that enable them to edit plant DNA with unprecedented accuracy. Even epigenetic markers, which modulate the activity of genes, can now be altered. The promise is to modify crops to make them more nutritious or resistant to disease.

The red hot business of divorce celebration

The red hot business of divorce celebration

By Barbara Balfour

After finalising a painful divorce Wendy Lewis decided there was only one way to celebrate - by blasting her wedding dress with a machine gun. To get the job done the newly divorced American gathered her female friends - and the dress - and flew to Las Vegas, Nevada for a long weekend.

Gender Conversation

1) Which gender do you think makes the best bosses? Can you give a
reason? Have you had any direct experience or is it just an opinion?
2) Would you rather have a male or a female secretary? Why?
3) Does one gender takes more time off from work than another?
4) Which gender spends the most time shopping? Which gender is most
likely to ask strangers for directions?
5) Is one gender unable to "see" unwashed dishes or unmade beds? Is
one gender "overly" concerned with tidiness? What is your experience?

Generation Gap-Part II

1) Are people from the "older" generation always more wise and correct
in their ways of thinking and choices? Why or why not?
2) Do you ever disagree with your friends/parents/relatives/grandparents about topics such as music, style and values?
3) Is it possible for parents and children to be friends? Or for
people of different generations to be friends?
4) What influences the styles, values and interests of a generation?
How long is a generation?
5) What is an example of a time you and your

Generation Gap-Part I

1) What is a generation gap?
2) Have you ever felt a generation gap with your friends?
3) How do you over come the generation gap?
4) When do you feel the generation gap the most? Is it possible to
overcome a generation gap?
5) At what point in life does the generation gap seem to be the largest?
6) Do you think you can be a better parent than your own parents in future?
7) Do you think it is OK to date or marry someone of a different
generation to yourself, either older or younger?

Immortality: a myth or near future?

Questions for discussion:

  1. Why are so many people afraid of death, when it is unavoidable?Are you scared of death?
  2. What do you think lies beyond the death? Do you believe in life after death?
  3. Do you believe in reincarnation?
  4. If you could choose, where would you be born and when?
  5. If you could re-live your life, what would you change?

Concept of beauty

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you think the concept of beauty is the same today as it was 100 years ago? If not, how has it changed?
  2. Do you think the concept of beauty is the same in all societies? If not, how might other societies differ?
  3. What sorts of things affect our perception of beauty? What causes us to think that a certain thing is “beautiful”?
  4. Are only young people beautiful?  What makes a person beautiful? What makes a person ugly?

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