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Cass Sunstein has studied social change closely, and has some ideas about how it relates to the current crisis.
How does social change happen? When do social movements take off? All of a sudden, people are staying at home, wearing masks, keeping their distance from friends and family, and washing their hands a lot. Likewise, sexual harassment was once something that women had to endure; now a movement has risen up against it. White nationalist sentiments, on the other hand, were largely kept out of mainstream discourse; now there is no shortage of media outlets for them. With the help of behavioral economics, psychology, and other fields, Cass Sunstein casts a bright new light on how change happens and how it can be applied to the current Covid-19 crisis.
In this online master class, created exclusively for 92Y, Sunstein focuses on the crucial role of social norms, both new and historical—and on their frequent collapse—and applies these to the current moment. Sunstein is joined by Samantha Power, former US ambassador to the United Nations and cabinet member of the Obama White House, to explore how rapid change can take hold in societies, and how individuals citizens can make a difference. When norms lead people to silence themselves, even an unpopular status quo can persist. Then one day, someone challenges the norm―a child who exclaims that the emperor has no clothes; a woman who says “me too” and long-standing practices fall.
Join us for this unique opportunity to hear from two distinguished former US Government officials on how social change happens and it’s applications on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard …
Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. In 2018, he received the Holberg Prize from the government of Norway, sometimes described as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for law and the humanities. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and after that, he served on the President's Review Board on Intelligence and Communications Technologies and on the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has advised officials at the United Nations, the European Commission, the World Bank, and many nations on issues of law and public policy. He serves as an adviser to the Behavioural Insights Team in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Sunstein is author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler, 2008), Simpler: The Future of Government (2013), The Ethics of Influence (2015), #Republic (2017), Impeachment: A Citizen's Guide (2017), The Cost-Benefit Revolution (2018), On Freedom (2019), Conformity (2019), How Change Happens (2019), and Too Much Information (2020). He is now working on a variety of projects involving the regulatory state, "sludge" (defined to include paperwork and similar burdens), fake news, and freedom of speech.
Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School …
Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the William D. Zabel Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School. From 2013-2017, Power served in the cabinet of President Barack Obama and as US ambassador to the United Nations. Her book “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. She is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World. Power’s most recent book, The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir (2019), was a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller.
Called by Forbes “a powerful crusader for U.S foreign policy as well as human rights and democracy” when it named her one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women,” Power has been recognized as a leading voice internationally for principled American engagement in the world. She has been named one of Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” and has twice been selected as one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People.”