Culture Briefing


What is the Meaning Behind These Categories?

These categories are intended to orient you to the substance of the article and to communicate our framework for understanding the endowments that constitute civic life. This “human ecology” model is at the core of the Thriving Cities Project, a research initiative of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

Generation Adderall

New York Times Magazine

Schwartz chronicles her own dependence on Adderall, which began during her second year of college and persisted throughout her 20s.

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Risky alone, deadly together

The Washington Post

In this central California town, accidental overdoses among white women have tripled, and suicides have doubled, since 1999.

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State mental hospitals were closed to give people with mental illness greater freedom...

The Boston Globe

From 2013 to 2015, one-third of community mental health providers in Massachusetts reported closings. The Globe reports on why.

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Notes from Camp

This American Life

Ira Glass and Julie Snyder survey the phenomenon of summer camp, in all its weirdness and wonder.

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End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile

The Guardian

Have we reached the era of “peak car”? What does the future of urban transportation hold?

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The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life

The Atlantic

Humes explores the hidden costs—economic, environmental, and human—of Americans’ dependence on cars.

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Driverless cars are the future. We’re living in the motorised middle ages.

The Guardian

Belam calls the modern traffic jam “awful and primitive”—not to mention inefficient. Is a driverless revolution inevitable?

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Can Wall Street Solve the Water Crisis in the West?


The American West’s water supply is struggling to keep up population growth. Wall Street has a plan—but is it a good one?

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Living in the Anthropocene: Toward a New Global Ethos

Yale Environment 360

Crutzen and Schwägerl argue that in the Anthropocene, “it’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be.”

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Welcome to the Anthropocene

The Economist

“Humans have changed the way the world works. Now they have to change the way they think about it, too.”

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Anthropocene Fever


Purdy’s essay probes the “political, ethical, and aesthetic” dimensions of life in the Anthropocene.

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COP21: A Potluck Dinner in Paris

The New Yorker

The logic of this week’s climate change talks in Paris begins not with terrestrial limits, but with human aspirations: what are we capable of?

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How Our Housing Choices Make Adult Friendships More Difficult


In a response to Beck’s Atlantic piece, Roberts calls for a creative rethinking of our lived environment.

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The Cost of Paying Attention

The New York Times

Public spaces have become increasingly cluttered with advertisements, all vying for control of a precious and limited resource: our attention.


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