In Depth

The Week Unwrapped: Skin hunger, Taiwan and the University of Zoom

How long can we live without touch? Has coronavirus advanced Taiwanese independence? And will virtual education take off?

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

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In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Skin hunger

Worldwide lockdowns have triggered an epidemic of “skin hunger”, or affection deprivation, with experts warning that lack of physical contact can harm both our minds and bodies. So why is touch so important to humans and could coronavirus change how we interact post-pandemic?

Taiwanese self-confidence

After Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in for a second term as president of Taiwan this week, she gave a bullish speech warning Beijing not to interfere in Taiwanese politics. China doesn’t recognise Taiwan as an independent nation, and has blocked its membership of the World Health Organization despite the coronavirus pandemic. Taiwan, one of the countries which has successfully contained the virus, now feels it has the moral authority - and confidence - to make its case.

Online education

Cambridge has cancelled all traditional lectures from September, replacing large-group teaching with online tuition for the whole of the next academic year. Many other universities are considering similar moves, in what may turn out to be a tipping point for higher education. Until now they have tended to be populated largely by young and comparatively affluent people, but more flexible online courses might draw from a wider pool of students.

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