laying groundwork for research

I’m using the course wiki to lead students on a bit of a treasure hunt. I almost said a goose chase, but this search is not wild or random – even though it may feel that way, and those who follow it through will find something worthwhile at the end.
We’re grappling (all of us, me too) with the concept of identity. Well, I’m not sure what percentage of the students are grappling in earnest, yet, but I’m confident they will be, soon enough. Most of them still want writing to be easy, a conversation in a visual medium that requires as little effort as opening your mouth and saying what you’re thinking. Writing well calls upon a wide range of skills that can be loosely categorized as critical thinking.
The wikipedia entry on identity describes it as “an umbrella term” within the social sciences, and goes on to provide different definitions based on discipline (psychology, sociology) and subfields within these fields, such as cognitive psychology and social psychology. Identity is distinguished from the self, a notion more commonly used in philosophy.
Relating to my own research interests, this article on Assimilation and Community Vitality, investigates the importance of language to identity.
Finally, I find it useful to compare the social science conception of identity with the way the term is used in mathematics.

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