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LAR101: What in the World?!?

This guide will help you complete research for the LAR101 course What in the World?!?

Finding Background Information

Once you have thought of a broad topic you would like to research, it is a good idea to read some background information about that topic. Getting an overview of the topic can give you perspective of how it fits in context with other related concepts. The databases listed below are like virtual encyclopedias and give you a good place to start finding background information. Check out our full list of reference databases by visiting our A-Z Database listing. You can also start gathering background information using open web tools like Google or Wikipedia, as long as you critically evaluate the sources you find.

As you read, it is a good idea to keep a list of common words used to describe your topic - these will help you as you start to search in subject specific databases!

Contemporary World Issues E-Books

DNA Technology

This book introduces readers to DNA—one of the most important technologies for the manipulation of all forms of life, from simple bacteria to plants and animals. It also addresses the most important social, ethical, political, economic, and other issues raised by this form of technology. It provides an up-to-date historical overview and general technical background to the topic as well as a broad introduction to current issues related to the development of DNA technology, such as genetically modified organisms, the use of DNA technology in the forensic sciences, and genetic testing and genetic therapy.

Sex and Gender

This reference work provides a thorough and unbiased treatment of sex, gender, and transgenderism—social issues of particular importance in today's world. It offers answers to essential questions about transgender issues. It presents background and insight to a number of social issues and topics that are of considerable interest to young adults but are often treated in a very limited fashion or skipped completely in school curricula, and provides additional resources that enable readers to conduct further research or stay up to date on issues that are as yet unresolved.

Prisons in the United States

Offering perspectives from a range of experts, both academic and nonacademic, this reference book examines the development of prisons in the United States and addresses the principal contemporary issues and controversies of our prisons and prison systems. It presents a comprehensive yet succinct history of the development of men's and women's prisons in the United States, and offers a range of author perspectives that identify and explore the principal issues associated with prisons and imprisonment. This book documents the shift from an intent to reform inmates in prisons to retribution and an attempt to remove all criminals from society, using prisons for 'warehousing' of undesired elements. It provides a complete reference guide for the understanding of prisons and imprisonment as a punishment.

Substance Abuse

This resource on substance abuse supplies the broad background knowledge and historical information needed to understand this important sociological issue and provides readers with a range of additional sources for continuing their study of the topic. It offers a broad introduction to the physiological, anatomical, and psychological changes associated with substance use and a variety of perspectives from subject experts with special knowledge of and/or experience with substance abuse problems. In addition, it addresses sociological aspects of drug use and the current debate over the legalization of certain drugs, such as medical and recreational marijuana.

Campus Sexual Assault

This reference thoroughly examines the alarming epidemic of campus sexual assault, including a discussion of laws, high-profile cases, controversies, and proposed solutions. It provides coverage of a timely topic that helps contextualize the issue by providing historical background and contemporary analysis of key events, laws, people, and controversies. Perspectives from individuals with firsthand experience with the issue of campus sexual assault are provided, including a Title IX investigator, a college counselor, a sexual assault nurse, as well as community advocates and survivors. It also explores strategies and changes that could serve to prevent assaults from occurring.

Gun Control in the United States

This work addresses the key issues surrounding guns in the United States—especially on the debate over gun control. It provides a balanced view of the contemporary gun debate in the United States, explaining the positions of both gun rights proponents and advocates of stricter gun control without demonizing either. By drawing on a vast array of research in criminology, history, law, medicine, politics, and social science, it provides a comprehensive reference on gun issues. It additionally presents current and historical data on U.S. gun violence—including homicides, suicides, and accidental shoots—and places these numbers against international statistics on gun violence.

The Global Water Crisis

How is water scarcity becoming a serious problem worldwide—including in the United States? This book provides a broad overview of water, sanitation, and hygiene problems faced by both developing and developed nations around the globe and suggests how these problems can be solved by imaginative and innovative thinking. It provides readers with an understanding of the severity of the water scarcity in the world today. In addition, it explains the nature of various sanitation issues around the world, how they arise, the problems for which they are responsible, and some possible solutions. This work also outlines the reasons that droughts are becoming a more serious problem in many parts of the world and what can be done to deal with these water shortages, as well highlighting the new, specialized problems concerning water supply raised by climate change.

Eating Disorders in America

As a resource for readers interested in eating disorders, this book summarizes their history in human civilization, assesses the current status of eating disorders in American society, and describes efforts for establishing effective prevention and treatment programs. Although eating disorders have existed for centuries, considerable controversy remains as to the basic cause or causes of these disorders and their genetic, biological, and/or psychological factors. This handbook investigates these disorders, informing readers on the causes, symptoms, controversies, and treatments available. It provides general background and a historical review of the existence of eating disorders in society, as well as resources the reader can use for further research, such as an extensive annotated bibliography, a glossary, and a chronology. 

Student Debt

Student lending in the United States is one of the most controversial issues in contemporary American discourse. This book examines student debt in the United States at every stage of the process--from the banks that issue the loans to the colleges and universities that collect the payments. It explains why so many students are borrowing large amounts of money to attend college; considers whether the cost of higher education is simply too high, and if there should be a cap on how much money students can borrow; explains what is contributing to the rising rate of borrowers defaulting on their loans; and predicts whether the so-called student loan bubble is in danger of popping. This information enables readers to better understand who is borrowing student loans, what the money from the student loans is going toward, what individuals have the authority to decide who qualifies for these loans, and what is being done to curb wasteful student spending.