2016 in a Nutshell

30 Dec 2016

With 4 meetings held in 3 locations, 3 books and 2 reports published, several books and projects by collaborators and 4 graduate students embarked on their Master's studies with Social Trends Institute grants, it has indeed been a fruitful year.

The past year has seen contributions from every STI branch of interest.


The Family branch continued its support of the annual World Family Map report, published in both the original English and its Spanish translation. The project monitors the global health of the family by tracking 16 indicators of family structure, family socioeconomics, family processes, and family culture in multiple countries around the world. Notably, the report was highlighted at the United Nations.

Also under the family branch, STI held a meeting in New York under a new format: The “Money Versus Marriage” event held in April brought together two renowned family scholars – Naomi Cohen and W. Bradford Wilcox - to debate the causes and consequences of growing economic and social inequality and their relationship to marriage and family structure. The debate and discussion were moderated and open to public questions and input. The event served as the grounding for another family branch meeting to be held in Rome in 2017. This “Separate but Unequal” experts meeting will address related issues, but in STI’s usual experts meeting format and with wider participation and a more multidisciplinary approach. 

Further, past contributors shared their work in the field: the International Federation for Family Development shared its work on the influence of gender inequality on labor outcome, and Paloma Duran, Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Fund, discussed the road to equality on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

And STI is investing in the family scholars of the future as well. Three of the four Master’s in Social Science Research students STI supported this year will concentrate on Family Policies.


The Bioethics branch saw contributions Dr. Helen Watt, who explained the unique moral questions raised by pregnancy that she addressed in her latest book; Pablo Requena explored the legal status of the human embryo; and physicist Nicolas Gisin shared a paper arguing that science cannot deny free will.

New York University Press published the book To Fix or To Heal, which deals with issues in biomedicine and bioethics, although it stemmed from an earlier Experts meeting in the Culture and Lifestyles branch (Construction of New Realities in Medicine).

Culture and Lifestyles

Also in Culture and Lifestyles, Cambridge University Press published the volume born of the Experts Meeting “The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered.” 

And two of the experts meetings were organized under this branch. The first considered the implications of technology for a good society. This meeting’s academic leader, Oxford’s Luciano Floridi, was interviewed about privacy in the Internet age by La Vanguardia. So was another of the meeting’s participants, bioethicist Brian Earp, who discussed some of the ethical questions raised by new uses of drugs.

Global Finance and the Moving Image brought together scholars from the fields of cultural and audiovisual studies, economic history, financial studies, business ethics, and political economy to discuss the representation of financial services and finance capitalism in popular narrative and documentary audiovisual culture. The meeting’s academic leader fleshed out its implications for STI.

The branch’s academic director, University of Navarra philosopher Ana Marta Gonzalez, who was appointed in 2016 by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, expounded on her latest book, The Ethical Backbone of Social Life.

Other Experts from meetings in this branch also shared their new books: Margaret Somerville’s Bird on an Ethics Wire deals with cultural and bioethics themes in the culture wars; Christine Mahoney expanded on her book about the rights of refugees, and interview that was later picked up by other media. So too was Neslihan Cevik’s explanation of her new book about how faith can coexist with modernity under Muslimism.


Governance saw an article on how businesses can further sustainable development goals, and whether finance and banking can contribute to the common good, in a book review of Samuel Gregg’s For God and Profit.

Civil Society

The Civil Society branch organized the Transforming Global Governance experts meeting, which could just as easily have been held under the purview of the Governance branch.   One of the meeting’s Academic Leaders, George Washington University International Relations scholar Michael Barnett, was also featured in La Contra.

This branch also saw the publication of What Society Needs from Media in a the Age of Digital Communication, product of an earlier meeting by the same name held in Oxford under the leadership of Reuters Institute Director Robert Picard, who discussed with STI how digital media even out the communications playing field.

With many more publications and projects in the pipeline, the Social Trends Institute will endeavor to continue to foster understanding of important social trends in the year to come.