This Is Not Normal – New Answers For Our Age of Crisis | How To Academy

Sun, 4 April 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm GMT

This Is Not Normal – New Answers For Our Age of Crisis

Nudge author and Harvard Prof Cass Sunstein

How does our collective sense of “what is normal” shape our lives? How can we shift that sense of ‘normality’ to nurture or destroy democracy, drive new social movements – or crush them?

Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler’s Nudge was that rare marvel: a book that genuinely changed the world. Inspiring political action from Cameron’s Downing Street to Obama’s White House, the ‘nudge’ has become famous as one of the most powerful tools any government has to persuade its citizens to make the right choices for their health, wealth and prosperity.

In this livestream event, Cass returns to How To Academy to reveal a new and compelling answer to one of the urgent questions of our age: how do unthinkable social taboos become normalised – and vice versa? And how can we seek to change that sense of normality and therefore change the world?

Our sense of what is and is not “normal” can explain social movements from #MeToo to gun rights, political revolutions from the founding of the USA to the rise of Adolf Hitler, our responses to COVID-19 lockdowns and travel bans, and our changing understandings of liberty.

Today, prevailing norms include the principle of equal dignity, the idea of not treating the press as an enemy of the people, and the social unacceptability of open expressions of racial discrimination. But norms are very different from laws. They arise and change in response to individual and collective action: and Professor Sunstein has dedicated his life to understanding the tools for promoting or preventing social change.

In this moment of global upheaval, join the preeminent scholar of social change as he considers who we are and where we go from here.


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Cass Sunstein

Lawyer and Harvard Professor

Cass R. Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. He received the 2018 Holberg Prize from the Government of Norway, often described as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for law and the humanities.

Private: Matthew Stadlen

Broadcaster, writer and regular How To Academy host.

Matthew Stadlen is a broadcaster, writer and regular How To Academy host. Previously he was an LBC presenter, wrote The Matthew Stadlen Interview for the Telegraph and presented the TV series Five Minutes With and On The Road With for the BBC. He is a birdwatcher and photographer, and his book How To See Birds is out now. Twitter: @matthewstadlen