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Cass Sunstein on How Change Happens

March 23, 2023

Cass Sunstein on How Change Happens

Cass Sunstein on How Change Happens

MARCH 23, 2023, 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM EST

A light lunch will be served. A limited number of books will be given away at the event.

In-Person Location: World Bank Main Complex MC13-121 | 1818 H Street NW Washington, DC

World Bank Governance Global Practice Book Talks welcomes Cass Sunstein who will present the main findings from his book “How Change Happens”. Integrating insights on topics such as social norms, group polarization, and pluralistic ignorance with his intimate knowledge of law and public policy, Sunstein provides a road map of how change can and does happen. How Change Happens is a must-read for those who want to understand, and help to instigate, social change.

The Governance Global Practice Book Talks presents recent books by leading global experts. These books were written for a broad audience and cover public policy areas that are relevant for Governance and beyond.

About the Book:

How does social change happen? When do social movements take off? In “How Change Happens”, with the help of behavioral economics, psychology, and other fields, Cass Sunstein casts a bright new light on the subject, focusing on the crucial role of social norms—and on their frequent collapse.

When norms lead people to silence themselves, even an unpopular status quo can persist. Then one day, someone challenges the norm. Sometimes suppressed outrage is unleashed, and long-standing practices fall. Sometimes change is more gradual, as “nudges” help produce new and different decisions—apps that count calories; texted reminders of deadlines; automatic enrollment in green energy or pension plans. Sunstein explores what kinds of nudges are effective and shows why nudges sometimes give way to bans and mandates. Finally, he considers social divisions, social cascades, and “partyism,” when identification with a political party creates a strong bias against all members of an opposing party—which can both fuel and block social change.

About the Author:

Cass 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. In 2020, the World Health Organization appointed him as Chair of its technical advisory group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health. 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), “Too Much Information” (2020), “Sludge” (2021), and “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement” (2021). His latest book “How to Interpret the Constitution” will be released in August 2023.