Critical Thinking can empower you to question your decisions and look at yourself and the people around you in a new, more objective way. Applying this approach to everyday situations can make a considerable difference in your life. Here’s how to benefit from Critical Thinking in your personal and work relationships.

Critical Thinking

1. Your Family

Mother knows best. Or does she? While parents usually mean well, their outlook on life often differs from your own. This can lead to anything from recurring arguments to a serious family dispute. Critical Thinking can help you analyse difficult family situations more objectively and improve communication among all family members.

2. Your Friends

Like most people, you may have that one friend you had a big fight with and didn’t speak to for a couple of months. Afterwards neither of you remembered what the fight had even been about. Critical Thinking can help you become a better friend. You can learn how to remain level-headed and prevent an argument from escalating.

3. Your Partner

Communication is key in every relationship. Critical Thinking can help you understand your own behaviour and your partner’s reactions. You can learn to better express your needs, improve your understanding of your partner’s point of view and develop emotional intimacy.

4. Your Professor

Are you taking a course but you and the professor just don’t see eye to eye? Critical Thinking can help you spot the fallacies in others’ arguments and improve your own reasoning. You can learn to become more persuasive in your own argumentation and convince your professor of your opinion.

5. Your Boss

At different points in your career you may feel overlooked or treated unfairly by your boss. Critical Thinking can help you find a way to change an unsatisfactory work situation and better communicate with your boss. You can learn how not to take work-related discussions personally and to become more convincing in your own argumentation.

Do you want to learn more about Critical Thinking? Check out our MOOC “Critical Thinking – Reason and Fair Play in Communication”.

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It’s not long now until the start of “Store Design, Visual Merchandising and Shopper Marketing”. A course that gives you the lowdown on the techniques being used by retailers every time you enter their stores. Whether you are a consumer who wants to take control, or a retailer looking to improve sales, this course is for you.

It’s not just the sales staff that makes you open your wallet. The store sells as well. The store’s influence starts the very moment you enter. We spoke to Claus Ebster, your instructor for this course, to get an insiders view on seven of the dirtiest tricks stores use to manipulate your mind and make you spend more:

1. Eye level is buy level


Whatever products are placed at your eye level sell best because you notice them the most. The most profitable products are always placed at eye level. That’s why you will find that super expensive extra virgin olive oil made from olives picked by the blind nuns of southern Tuscany at eye level and the cheapo oil down at the bottom of the shelf.

2. Paying through the nose


More and more retailers use ambient scents in their stores because research has shown that scents put shoppers in a good mood and make them buy more. Scents work best if they fit the store, like the smell of cookies in a bakery and black pepper scent in a lingerie store.

3. Seeing red

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Men are seduced by red prices. According to recent marketing research, guys are much more likely to see a bargain when the price is printed in red. Women, on the other hand, examine prices more closely and are not affected by prices on red signs.

4. Super-sized shopping carts


Large, empty shopping carts invite us to fill them to the brim. If you don’t take a cart or shopping basket at the entrance, crafty retailers place baskets in the middle of the store. After you take three or four products, your hands are full. You would stop shopping, but out of nowhere a shopping basket miraculously appears. It’s time to resume shopping.

5. The scarcity principle


Limited editions. A special sale that ends tonight. Available only to the first 50 shoppers. All of these use the same mechanism to make the merchandise more appealing: the scarcity principle. If there is little left, it must be good. Oh, greed is such a great motivator…

6. Slow music


The more time you spend in the store, the more products you see and the more you tend to buy. So how do retailers make you spend more time in the store? That’s easy. Through slow music. Time and again, studies have shown that people spend more time in the supermarket, department store or restaurant if slow music is played rather than fast music.

7. Magic mirrors


These mirrors are used in the fitting rooms of fashion stores and they make you look slim and trim. A mirror slightly inclined away from the viewer, light projected from the front to soften unflattering shadows, and warm wall colours in the fitting room are all it takes to add inches to a shopper’s height and shave pounds from the hips. Naturally, shoppers who are flattered by their own image in these mirrors are more likely to buy.

Find out more about consumer psychology (and even dirtier tricks used to seduce shoppers) in iversity’s new online course on Store Design, Visual Merchandising and Shopper Marketing starting 4 May.

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The field of International Relations and Global Politics is fascinating. Daily news headlines are full of stories in which these relations are played out. Trade deals are struck, peace talks initiated and territories disputed. In our new “International Relations to Global Politics” course you will learn how to utilise approaches such as Idealism, Realism and Liberalism and apply them to world affairs.

Last week,  “From International Relations to Global Politics” started amid a variety of world events that concerned the topic. One of the most engaging thing about studying a subject such as this is that your knowledge can be applied outside the classroom to huge global events and issues!  To get you thinking about these world events we have put together a roundup of a few of the world’s most serious and pressing topics. Take a look and see how you would apply your International Relations knowledge.


 Ceasefire in Ukraine broadly holding

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The ceasefire agreement formulated in Minsk earlier this month seems to be holding ‘except in hotspots’ according to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Whilst prisoner swaps and limited artillery withdrawal have helped cement the ceasefire, fighting around key areas such as Debaltseve and Donetsk and Ukraine’s unwillingness to pull out heavy artillery whilst still under fire has led some observers to question its success. Read more…


Syrian President gives insight into relationship with America

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Last week BBC news published an in-depth interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad where he accused America of “trampling over international law” in regard to its actions in his country. When asked if the two sides communicated, he replied, “They don’t talk to us and we don’t talk to them. Sometimes we talk through a third party and they convey a message, but there is nothing tactical.”. The Syrian conflict is a complex, multi-sided issue and the international relations implications are huge. Read more…


US-Cuban relations: the end of the Embargo Era?

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Diplomats from the US and Cuba met in Havana last month, marking an incredible turning point in Cuban-US international relations. From tourism to rum, for over 50 years, the embargo banning imports from Cuba to the US has created a wall between the two neighbouring nations. Discussions about Cold War politics and Guantanamo Bay vibrate in the air as the world watches new negotiations about the long-standing divide. Read more…


Greece meets deadline for new bailout proposal

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Greece has this week set forward it’s plans for the countries financial reform. The news comes after eurozone leaders gave the country days to come up with a new approach to secure a 4 month extension on their bailout. Measures include cuts to the civil service and a new drive to combat corruption. The next step in the process is for Greece’s creditors to review the plans and discuss with eurozone finance ministers. The proposal gives Greece breathing room but analysts believe there is a long way to go in order to resolve it’s €323bn debt. Read more…


African countries agree to co-operate in fight against Boko Haram

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A vote in Niger’s parliament earlier this month confirmed plans to send 750 troops to Nigeria in order to help combat the threat from Militant Islamist group Boko Haram, after they carried out their first terrorist attack in the country last Saturday. International relations between neighbouring countries in the area have strengthened as Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin have agreed to establish a 7,800-strong force to combat the militants. Read more…

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Theres a real sense of excitement at iversity this week as we prepare for our first online language course, Spanish for Beginners! In honour of this iversity first, we thought it would be great to get the lowdown from course instructor Prof. Dr. Javier Bravo Agapito on what students can expect from his course. The Professor and his team have put together a fun and immersive MOOC that will provide you with a great foundation of Spanish knowledge. Learning a language can help you make friends, understand the world around you and feel more involved in the culture that surrounds you, so get involved!

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 17.54.07Hi Prof. Agapito, thanks for talking to us. What is the most exciting thing about your field of study?

My research is primarily in the field of e-learning. As a result of this, creating the “Spanish for Beginners” MOOC was an interesting experience for me and my team. Some fascinating questions were raised concerning the approach to learning and how technology plays its part. For example, what is the best way to convey content to students?. Spanish for Beginners is taught using real life situations where there is a need for communication. It’s amazing to see how different students with very diverse profiles can learn using this method of teaching.

What was your motivation for making a MOOC?

Creating this MOOC was an amazing experience. I would recommend that any course instructor tries this approach at some point as you can learn how the course content should be structured for a large group of students in order to best transfer your knowledge to society. We recorded 23 videos of real life situations, and created many exercises and activities for students to complete. We wanted to provide online learners with an easy and accessable way of learning Spanish!

What do you expect your students to get out of the course?

On completion of the course our learners will have a basic knowledge of Spanish. For example they will be able to ask for things (locations, foods etc.) as well as introduce themselves. We also hope we inspire people to learn more about this brilliant language spoken the world over.

What is one interesting or fascinating fact about the course?

The course is really interactive and intuitive. The videos of real situations aim to get away from simply teaching through text and are great practice for the real world!

Let’s say I am not currently studying this subject. Why would this course be interesting for me?

The course will be of interest as it is a great introduction to the Spanish language. No previous experience necessary! Enrol today and study with us from the 21st of April.


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As members of an evermore connected global community, issues relating to human rights spread from our backyards, through our cities, countries and across all continents. What are basic human rights and at which borders do they stop? Who is responsible for maintaining them? Who do they protect? Prof. Paolo De Stefani and his great team from the University of Padua start their course “Human Rights: Global and Local Protections” on 30 January 2015. Want to know more? Have a look behind the scenes of this course and check out the backstage video and interview below!

Human Rights instructor Prof. Paolo De Stefani


“Learning human rights is like cooking: you learn by doing – and there is always room for improvement!”

1. What is the most exciting thing about your field of study?

The feeling that with my research and teaching I can contribute, although on an infinitesimal scale, to changing the mind set of some people regarding human rights, and hopefully helping make them a reality. It’s the performative power of (legal) language, it’s the capacity to shape (I wish for the better!) our minds and change the world around us. That still fascinates me.

2. What do you expect from this MOOC?

I expect it might help some people become more aware of human rights as a possible and concrete enabler of social change.

3. How do you expect students to apply their learnings?

If they don’t try to apply what they learned in class in real life, they are going to fail the course! Learning human rights is like cooking: you learn by doing – and there is always room for improvement!

4. What is the most interesting fact about the course?

In the making of the MOOC, an interesting aspect was the interaction between the Human Rights Centre staff and the staff of the Multimedia and E-learning Centre of the University of Padua. I think we have learned a lot from each other.

5. Why is the course interesting if I am not currently studying in the field?

It is supposed to be an introduction to human rights from several entry points: if you have an interest in law, politics, history, social movements… you might recognise some topics you are familiar with, and have an opportunity to expand your understanding with a new and original perspective.

6. What will help students during the course?

Watching the news and trying to look at facts through the lens of fundamental rights. That is always a good exercise.

7. How should students prepare for this course?

There is no need for special preparation. You could start collecting some data or news concerning situations having a “human rights dimension” that are occurring around you, in politics, society, economy, etc. During the course, you will have to elaborate on some ideas about how to address such issues.

Not enrolled in the course yet? Join the “Human Rights: Local and Global Protection” course today!

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