2017-2018 Topics

First paragraphs of the upcoming topics:
(Complete descriptions are found on fpspi.org/topics.html.)

Spread of Infectious Disease

Estimations indicate that more than 52 million people fall ill from infectious diseases around the world each year. Seventeen million people die annually from these diseases. With the advent of affordable global travel, infectious diseases may spread rapidly over a large area across the globe. Vaccines and treatments are often ineffective or expensive to manufacture. How can the spread of infectious disease be controlled? How can the health of people around the world be safeguarded?

Toxic Materials

Toxic materials are everywhere: heavy metals in electronics, flame retardants in furniture and clothing, pesticides in our food, and harmful chemicals in plastics. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) products are an example of matter dangerous to health and environment. In the factory, at home, and in the trash, poisonous chemicals are linked to cancer and birth defects. Certain chemicals are known to be hazardous, yet current regulation systems allow them to continue to be brought into homes via many products. Even worse, information pertaining to health and environment damage is not available for most of these chemicals. How can we become better aware of the dangers associated with toxic wastes? What will happen if we increase our reliance on these materials?


Disorders may impact one out of four people each year, but the media frequently reports issues surrounding mental health with varying levels of accuracy. Typically, disorders are classified into one of many sub-categories such as anxiety, eating, mood, personality, genetic, and cognitive disorders. Societal pressures on adolescents can contribute to chemical imbalances in the brain and cause eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Recent studies have also found that the number of doctor visits by adolescents and children seeking mental health care in developed countries are increasing. How might these trends impact society? What research is already being applied to reverse current trends, and how will we know if they’re successful?

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage for commercial, private, and public content is a growing phenomenon and is used by both public citizens and private corporations. Cloud storage provides a number of advantages: lower costs for usage, automatic backup and recovery systems, less maintenance than what is required presently, and personal computers do not need to provide large amounts of data storage. From the negative aspect, people worry about reliability and security. What would happen if corporations could not access their information stored on a cloud? If a cloud system is hacked, how is information secured? What if authentication and authorization systems fail? The safety of data depends on the third party hosting companies. How should businesses protect their data and intellectual property when cloud storage means they’ve exchanged much of their ability to manage their data directly for ease of operation and convenience?

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The 2018 International Conference Topic will be announced in March 2018.