What We Are Reading Today: Below the Surface

Updated 16 January 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Below the Surface

  • The book explores the latest research in ethnic and racial identity and interracial relations among diverse youth in the US

Authors: Deborah Rivas-Drake and Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor

Today’s young people are growing up in an increasingly ethnically and racially diverse society. How do we help them navigate this world productively, given some of the seemingly intractable conflicts we constantly hear about? 

In Below the Surface, Deborah Rivas-Drake and Adriana Umaña-Taylor explore the latest research in ethnic and racial identity and interracial relations among diverse youth in the US, says a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

Drawing from multiple disciplines, including developmental psychology, social psychology, education, and sociology, the authors demonstrate that young people can have a strong ethnic-racial identity and still view other groups positively, and that in fact, possessing a solid ethnic-racial identity makes it possible to have a more genuine understanding of other groups. During adolescence, teens reexamine, redefine, and consolidate their ethnic-racial identities in the context of family, schools, peers, communities, and the media. 


What We Are Reading Today: Taming the Unknown

Updated 35 min 45 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: Taming the Unknown

Edited by Victor J.Katz and Karen Hunger Parshall

What is algebra? For some, it is an abstract language of x’s and y’s. For mathematics majors and professional mathematicians, it is a world of axiomatically defined constructs like groups, rings, and fields. Taming the Unknown considers how these two seemingly different types of algebra evolved and how they relate. Victor Katz and Karen Parshall explore the history of algebra, from its roots in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, China, and India, through its development in the medieval Islamic world and medieval and early modern Europe, to its modern form in the early 20th century.

Defining algebra originally as a collection of techniques for determining unknowns, the authors trace the development of these techniques from geometric beginnings in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and classical Greece. They show how similar problems were tackled in Alexandrian Greece, in China, and in India, then look at how medieval Islamic scholars shifted to an algorithmic stage, which was further developed by medieval and early modern European mathematicians. With the introduction of a flexible and operative symbolism in the 16th and 17th centuries, algebra entered into a dynamic period characterized by the analytic geometry that could evaluate curves represented by equations in two variables, thereby solving problems in the physics of motion. This new symbolism freed mathematicians to study equations of degrees higher than two and three, ultimately leading to the present abstract era.