The downhill course stands out from the almost snowless landscape ahead of the first men's downhill training run at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 3, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. 

States at dawn: Part II

Critical State

Critical State, a foreign policy newsletter by Inkstick Media, takes a deep dive this week into how geography guides state formation, with a focus on the “fractured-land hypothesis.”

An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland near the Arctic Circle, Aug, 16, 2005. A new report finds permafrost in the Arctic is thawing faster than ever before.

Critical permafrost research in Russia disrupted by war in Ukraine

An illustration of a syringe, and inside it an hourglass keeping time

How and when will we know that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective?

A woman holds shopping bags and an umbrella next to bright red sign with white text about COVID-19

Conflict researchers on the COVID-19 era

Critical State
Two llamas in a field.

Could llama antibodies be the key to a coronavirus treatment?

A close-up photo of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wearing headphones

Illiberalism isn’t just rising — it’s spreading (Part I)

Critical State

Why does there seem to be a global rise in illiberal laws that restrict nongovernmental organizations and civic life? Critical State’s Sam Ratner looks at research on how policies that restrict civic life spread.

A group of police officers in black uniforms detain a Black man wearing gray pants and white tank.

When police reform hasn’t worked: Part II

Critical State

Does de-escalation training for police reduce violence? A survey of 64 evaluations of de-escalation training programs conducted over 40 years says … we have no idea. Critical State’s Sam Ratner looks at why police reform can feel like a mirage.

Observers in southern Iceland stand watch, scanning the sea for killer whales. 

Research on whales, cosmos among many studies derailed by pandemic


All over the world, the scientific community is feeling the impact of the coronavirus, both in the field and in the laboratory. In some cases, research has been paused or discontinued. For some, it means changing plans — staying put instead of going abroad, or not being able to return home.   

Man walks as cameras follow him.

US researchers on edge as foreign funding comes under increased scrutiny

Global Nation Education

A clash has cropped up between the academic mission of sharing knowledge and national security.

Before the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, five states had "red flag" statutes called gun violence restraining orders. Recently, Florida became the six state to add the statute.

Researchers still struggle to get funding to study gun violence


Any potential money is barred by a congressional act known as the Dickey Amendment, which mandates that none of the funds available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be “used to advocate or promote gun control.”