Announcements • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

New Title Spotlight: “Testamente und Erbstreitigkeiten” (“Wills and Inheritance Disputes”)

The law library recently added a very interesting book to the collection:

Testamente und Erbstreitigkeiten: von Kriemhild bis Cornelius Gurlitt
Walter Zimmermann
2018, C.H. Beck
ISBN: 9783406730238

This book provides a historical survey of wills and inheritance disputes and includes transcriptions (in normal, readable font) of actual language from testamentary instruments.  Researchers who are interested in historical wills will especially enjoy this book, although it requires an ability to read German.  However, due to the book’s highly narrative and accessible style, an in-depth knowledge of German legal language is, in my opinion, not necessary.

The following subjects and people are described:

  • Testamentary distribution in the Song of the Nibelungs
  • Offmei Wöllerin, 1321 (a well-to-do widow from the town of Regensburg)
  • Heinrich Tuschl von Söldenau, 1376 (Bavarian nobleman and landowner)
  • Erasmus von Rotterdam, 1536 (famous scholar and humanist)
  • Martin Luther, 1542 (leader of the Protestant Reformation)
  • Laurentius von Ramee, 1613 (military commander whose will included a requirement that his successor marry his — Ramee’s — sister)
  • Neidhard Pfreimbder, 1662 (whose will precisely listed his property but did not name an heir)
  • Immanuel Kant, 1798 (philosopher)
  • Last will of Beethoven (drafted as an outrage-filled letter by the composer to his brother and nephew in 1802)
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1830 (author whose will specifically provided for his daughter-in-law)
  • Constanze Mozart, 1841 (widow of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
  • Arthur Schopenhauer, 1852 (philosopher whose will included a provision to provide for his dog)
  • Fürstenhaus Leiningen, 1897 (in which the son in a royal family was disowned because the father did not approve of the son’s marriage)
  • Elisabeth, 1898 and Franz Joseph I., 1901 (Empress and Emperor of Austria and Queen and King of Hungary; she was known as “Sissi” and has been extensively portrayed in books and movies)
  • König Otto I von Bayern, 1916 (Bavarian king who suffered from severe mental illness)
  • Franz Kafka, 1922 (Polish author whose testamentary request that his works be destroyed was not followed)
  • Estate of the Wittelsbach Family, 1923 (describing an agreement under which property of displaced royalty was returned to state ownership)
  • Thurn and Taxis Library and Archive (protection of cultural assets of an entailed estate, or Fideikommiss)
  • Adolf Hitler, 1945, and Eva Braun, 1944 (leader of Germany’s National Socialist government, which carried out the murder of millions of people during World War II, and his companion)
  • Albert Einstein, 1950 (physicist; disputes surrounding his will led to the exposure of intimate details about his life)
  • Estate of the Krupp Family, 1966 (steel manufacturing family that used several testamentary devices to avoid paying inheritance taxes)
  • The Insect Collection of Georg Frey, 1976 (Frey’s widow ignored testamentary directives regarding who should have the first right to buy the collection and offered it for sale elsewhere)
  • The Estate of Axel Springer, 1984 (German publisher who had several marriages and children; the battle over his estate lasted 30 years)
  • The Willy-Brandt-Medal, 1992 (“Can a widow make money from her husband’s personality rights?”)
  • Donations for the Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche of Dresden, 1995 (If a donation unlawfully decreases someone’s compulsory right to inherit, must the donation be returned?)
  • A Sociologist’s Index Card Box, 1998 (the impact of “vagueness” in a will on the inheritance rights)
  • Cornelius Gurlitt’s Estate of Stolen Art, 2014 (Can a testamentary devise lawfully include ill-received property?)

Why Research Historical Wills and Probate Documents?

Old wills provide a fascinating window into how people in the past really lived. During the summer of 2005, as a research assistant to Pepperdine Law Professor Kris Knaplund, I spent many enjoyable hours in the Los Angeles County Probate Archives, reading and documenting wills and other probate records from 1893. 

Although the main objective of this research project was to better understand the effect of the 1861 California Married Women’s Property Act on women’s inheritance rights, the project provided an additional bonus.  We learned about people from all walks of life in late 1800s California, from successful landowners and wealthy widows, to lawyers, business owners, farmers, and (perhaps most surprisingly) shepherds who had immigrated from the Basque country to Los Angeles.  If you are interested in reading more about this project, check out Kris’s article, The Evolution of Women’s Rights in Inheritance, which was published in the Hastings Women’s Law Journal in 2008.

Are you curious about historical probate materials in the Harvard Library collections?  Here are a few HOLLIS library catalog searches that you can use to look for sources:

Law Library Adds the Mueller Report to the Collection

U.S. politics has been abuzz since the recent release of a report by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which details findings of a two-year investigation into possible Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have made the entire Mueller Report available online.  It can also be downloaded from the Special Counsel’s page on the Department of Justice’s website (archived at https://perma.cc/C24U-HCME).

The internet can be great for accessing documents, and terrible for reading and processing them.  Have you tried, and given up, reading the Mueller Report on your computer or, worse yet, on your phone?  Is your printing account credit too low to print the 400+ pages of the report yourself?  If you are a Harvard Law School affiliate, you’re in luck. You can check out a copy of the Mueller Report, printed and bound by the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, from the law library’s reserve collection

Further Research: Trump Administration

Perhaps, after perusing the Mueller Report, you would like to read more about Trump and his presidency?  If so, you may find this Harvard Library catalog (HOLLIS) search useful:

HOLLIS Search: Subject = “Trump, Donald, — 1946-“

There is also a helpful HOLLIS search for materials on the US government in general since Trump’s election:

HOLLIS Search: Subject = “United States — Politics and Government — 2017-“

Further Research: Investigations by the Justice Department’s Special Counsel’s Office

The office that issued the 2019 Mueller Report is the U.S. Justice Department’s Special Counsel’s Office. Its historical precursor, the Office of the Independent Counsel, was established under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-521). In the late 1990s, under the auspices of this office, Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr investigated potential misconduct by President Bill Clinton. That investigation led to Clinton’s impeachment, and ultimate acquittal.

In 1999, the law that governed the Office of the Independent Counsel expired. However, under Department of Justice regulations that went into effect on July 1, 1999 (64 Fed. Reg. 37038; codified at 28 C.F.R. §§ 600.1-600.10), the Attorney General gained the authorization to appoint a Special Counsel to conduct a similar type of investigation that the Independent Counsel used to perform. According to the regulations, the Special Counsel is required to “investigate and, when appropriate, to prosecute matters when the Attorney General concludes that extraordinary circumstances exist such that the public interested would be served by removing a large degree of responsibility for a matter from the Department of Justice.”

Important Note:
The Justice Department’s Special Counsel Office is not the same as the federal government’s
Office of the Special Counsel.  Under 5 U.S.C. §§ 1211-1219, the Office of the Special Counsel is part of a federal government oversight regime, which also includes the Merit Systems Protection Board, established under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-454).

For more information about the history of the special/independent counsel, there is an excellent description on the PBS Frontline website, A Brief History of the Independent Counsel Law. For a more in-depth treatment of the topic, the Congressional Research Service has published a thorough, well-annotated report that was updated in March 2019 — Special Counsel Investigations: History, Authority, Appointment, and Removal.

Interested in finding additional books and articles about the history of investigations into misconduct by U.S. politicians? Below are some HOLLIS searches to get you started.

Legal research databases: Summer 2019 and new grad access policies

Lining up a summer job or preparing to graduate? Before you head out, you’ll want to know what’s available to you from the big three research databases and beyond.

BLOOMBERG LAW

RETURNING STUDENTS’ SUMMER USE: You may use your HLS Bloomberg Law account for any purpose, including research for employers.

NEW GRADUATES:  You may continue to use your HLS Bloomberg Law account for six months after graduation. 

If you haven’t already signed up for a Bloomberg Law account and would like to do so, go to www.bloomberglaw.com/activate (use your Harvard email. No activation code is necessary). If you have any questions, contact the Bloomberg Law 24/7 Help Desk at 1-888-560-BLAW or blawhelp@bna.com. You can also contact our representative, Brendan Greally.

LEXIS

RETURNING STUDENTS’ SUMMER USE:   You have free unlimited use of your HLS Lexis Advance account during the summer, whether you’re clerking, interning, externing or at a firm. (Keep in mind that you may be required to use a different ID when researching for a client. Be sure to check with your employer.)

NEW GRADUATES:     After graduation, you have automatic extended access to your HLS Lexis Advance account for six months, through December 31, 2019. If you participate in the Student Rewards program, be sure to use up your points by June 30 (starting July 5, there is a different program for graduates).

ASPIRE PROGRAM FOR GRADUATES ENGAGED IN NON-PROFIT WORK:  The ASPIRE program provides 12 months of free access to federal and state cases, codes, regulations, law reviews, Shepard’s® Citation Service and Matthew Bender® treatises to graduates who are engaged in verifiable 501(c)(3) public interest work.  If interested, you need to apply for this access.

If you have any questions, please contact our representative, Becky Ehrlichman.

WESTLAW

RETURNING STUDENTS’ SUMMER USE:  You can use Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw and Practical Law, over the summer for non-commercial research. You can turn to these resources to gain understanding and build confidence in your research skills, but you cannot use them in situations where you are billing a client.  You do not have to do anything to gain access to these tools over the summer. Examples of permissible uses for your academic password include the following:

  • Summer coursework
  • Research assistant assignments
  • Law Review or Journal research
  • Moot Court research
  • Non-Profit work
  • Clinical work
  • Externship sponsored by the school

NEW GRADUATES: You have access to Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw and Practical Law, for six months after graduation by registering for “Grad Elite” access here. “Grad Elite” access gives you 60-hours of usage on these products per month to gain understanding and build confidence in your research skills. While you cannot use it in situations where you are billing a client, Thomson Reuters encourages you to use these tools to build your knowledge of the law and prepare for your bar exam. 

If you have any questions, please contact our representative, Mark Frongillo.

OTHER DATABASES
Continuing students have full access over the summer to most other library resources at Harvard simply by using your HUIDs and PINs. So if you need JSTOR, HeinOnline, Academic Search Premier or most other databases, you’re all set!

New alumni continue to have access to some databases, including HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library and the CQ Press Library, a great source for information and data on government and politics. Click through to our guide to Library Services for HLS Alumni for information about how to claim your Harvard Key and get access, plus learn about other resources for alumni and how to stay connected from afar.

QUESTIONS?
Feel free to contact us with any questions about summer access, alumni access, or any research-related questions over the summer and beyond. Our full contact details are available at Ask a Librarian.

Excel on exams and papers with tools from the Library

Congratulations on making it to the end of the academic year.  As you prepare for exams and finish up your papers and projects, check out some of these resources from the HLS Library to help make the process a little easier:

Prepare for HLS Exams guide – We’ve organized some information and resources from the Library and elsewhere at HLS to help get you through this stressful part of law school, including links to study aids, tutorials and past exams; lists of recommended books on law school exam strategies; research basics on 1L topics; and a few ideas for short study breaks.  Also find links to exam information from the Registrar’s office and self-care offerings from the Dean of Students Office’s Wellness program. 

NEW! Wolters Kluwer Online Study Aid Library – If you enjoy study aids like Examples & Explanations, Glannon Guides or Casenote Legal Briefs, now you access them for free on your computer, tablet or mobile device whether you’re on campus or off.  The Library’s subscription includes hundreds of titles covering topics from contracts to conflict of laws.  Create a personalized login to highlight, take notes or add bookmarks to text. Access is controlled by HLS IP address and is limited to the Harvard Law School community. Off-campus access is controlled by HLS account username and password.

Bluebook Citation for LLM Students – If you’re an LLM student writing a paper, this is the guide for you.  In addition to downloadable charts and slides, this guide is packed full of tips based on FAQs from Library Bluebook training sessions – from what to do when the Bluebook doesn’t have a rule for citing something you find online, to working with non-English sources, to using signals (see, see also …) correctly.  JD students will find this helpful as well.

Finally, remember to take a break now and then.  Play a game, take a nap, meditate, take a walk … anything that helps you refresh and recharge.  The Take a Study Break guide has a bunch of ideas.  And anytime you’re looking for some “portable quiet”, stop by the circulation desk or reference area for free earplugs.

Best of luck!

Getting to Ellen: A Trial Lawyer’s Gender Transition and the Lessons of Vulnerability and Self-Compassion

Several colleagues from the library were among the Harvard Law School staff members who attended a talk this morning given by Ellen (Ellie) Krug, who transitioned from male to female while working as a trial lawyer and heading a law firm in Iowa in 2009.  Today, Ellie travels around the country to talk to audiences about coming out as a transgender person, and discusses the roles that vulnerability, authenticity, and compassion play in accepting yourself and others.

She opened, appropriately, by reminding us that “we’re all working to survive the human condition.”  She followed by making it especially clear that she was not there to speak about or for all trans/non-binary people.

Then, she began the educational part of the program by describing the three camps in the transgender world:

  • Gender Correctors:
    People who live their life presenting according to their birth gender, until they decide that they have had enough of that life and need to correct.
  • Trans Kids and Trans Youth:
    Children and young people who identify and declare early that they are not their assigned gender.  Because of the expansion of the internet, this group has grown much larger in the last 20-25 years, as they and their families can more readily research what this means and connect with others who are also going through the same experience.
  • People Not Identifying As Male or Female: These people may be called gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, genderfluid, or something else.

Tip: Visit http://www.transstudent.org/definitions/ for a comprehensive list of definitions of LGBTQ+ terms.

During the next part of her talk, she discussed three concepts that are critical to transgender people and their experience.

  • Gender Identity:
    This is how you perceive your gender according to your brain.  It is private, secret, and can be accompanied by fear.  Not only can people facing gender identity issues be afraid of losing everything they have built and would build by staying in their birth gender, but also of being being marginalized and ending up alone.  Stating that you do not identify with the gender you were assigned at birth can cause confusion to people who are “cisgender” (someone who identifies as the gender to which they were assigned when they were born).
  • Gender Expression:
    This how how you express your gender in public.  It is a means by which people, by wearing certain clothes and accessories and adopting certain physical characteristics, make an effort to “grab authenticity.”
  • Transitioning Genders:
    For some (but not all) people, this is the final stage in the path toward living with gender authenticity.  It can involve elements that are social (changing your name, changing your government identity documents, taking hormones) and surgical.  Note that not everyone chooses to have surgery.  It is expensive ($30-35,000) and takes a long time; also, in some places, there is a lack of access to health care professionals who can perform it.

Following a brief discussion of her own experience, Ellie discussed the concept of choice.  She made it very clear that transitioning from male to female was more than just a choice for her: it was an issue of survival because identifying as a woman was such a fundamental part of her core identity.  She also mentioned that she is much happier, relaxed, and more comfortable with herself now, and that people who have known her for a long time tell her that she is a much better person as a woman than she was as a man.

Finally, Ellie advised us about how we, as members of the law school community, can be more welcoming to trans and gender non-conforming people.  At the top of the list?  PRONOUNS.  Using someone’s preferred pronoun shows that you see them as a human being.  If you make a mistake, apologize and move on.  Ellie also listed a number of things that trans people should not be asked to do: educate non-trans people about trans issues, be a spokesperson for the trans community, or discuss their own experience with surgery or hormones.  Finally, when it comes to bathrooms, encourage them to use the bathroom of their choice.

Tip: To view a map of gender-inclusive bathrooms on the Harvard Law School campus, visit https://hls.harvard.edu/content/uploads/2018/10/HLS-Map-Gender-Inclusive-Bathrooms.pdf.  

At the end of her talk, Ellie reminded us of three important points to remember when working with any law students, but especially trans students:

  • “Human authenticity won’t leave you alone until you listen.”
  • Many people, especially in a law school environment, feel that they are not good enough or a failure.
  • It is important to have compassion, for both your students and yourself.

Tip: Regarding point #2, this is often referred to as “impostor syndrome.” I attended and wrote a blog post about an excellent program on impostor syndrome at the American Association of Law Libraries annual meeting in 2018.

Obviously a blog post cannot do justice to what a powerful speaker and human being Ellie is.  My hope in writing this is that people take away the educational points that we learned from her, and feel encouraged to attend one of her talks themselves.  To learn more about Ellie and her work, visit https://elliekrug.com/.

You can also explore the Harvard Library collections’ works on this topic by searching the HOLLIS library catalog using these pre-populated searches:

852 RARE: When the French Revolution was a Current Event

A recent Harvard Law School Library project—undertaken in preparation for the renovation and re-purposing of the Lewis building—resulted in a spreadsheet of hundreds of older titles for me to sift through, verify, and (often) catalog.  While the list is daunting it has led to a trove of fascinating books and pamphlets all of them are intriguing to anyone who appreciates primary materials.

I’ve particularly enjoyed working with copies of the French constitution in its various iterations, published in 1791, 1793, and 1795. Some are elegantly bound; others are still in their original paper wrappers.

A particularly lovely specimen of the former is this 1791 constitution, not even 10 cm (4 inches) tall, bound in green in morocco with marbled pastedowns, gold-tooled spines, and gilt edges. The frontispiece showing the King Louis XVI accepting the constitution, which established a constitutional monarchy.  Folded in towards the end of this pocket-size volume is a map of France.

An edition of the same constitution, printed in the provincial city of Le Puy in south central France, is in its original cheap (and wonderfully tactile) paper wrapper with the bookseller’s simple title and date (14 septiembre 1791) in manuscript and pages untrimmed.

Naturally events in France and its constitutions were of great interest beyond France, and a number of titles in the collection–such as these two–reflect that:

Detail of title page of London edition of the constitution published in Year I of the French republication calendar (1793).

 

Landau edition of the Year III constitution (1795), with manuscript note on title page: “5 Fructidor III” (i.e. 24. August 1795). Text is in French and German on facing pages.

 

 

TODAY: Professor Naz Modirzadeh to Speak Before the UN Security Council

HLS Professor and PILAC Director Naz Modirzadeh, pictured at the UN Security Council in preparation for her address to them at their 8499th meeting, April 1, 2019.

HLS Professor of Practice and Founding Director of the HLS Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC) Naz Modirzadeh will speak before the United Nations Security Council during their 8499th meeting this afternoon.

She will discuss issues of international humanitarian law (IHL), focusing on counterterrorism and safeguarding humanitarian action.

The session is scheduled to begin at 3pm EDT.

UN Security Council meetings can be viewed online through UN Web TV, available at http://webtv.un.org.

More information about PILAC is available at https://pilac.law.harvard.edu.

The library’s PILAC research guide is available at https://guides.library.harvard.edu/PILAC.

New Research Guide: Law and Society

As I suspect is the case with many academic research librarians, I have several research guides that are “in progress.” Therefore, it is always exciting to finish one!  My latest guide, published today, is on Law and Society research (https://guides.library.harvard.edu/law-and-society).

I really enjoyed working on this guide, because, to me, multidisciplinary research is the ultimate exercise in language and semantics.  Legal scholars and sociology scholars may use completely different vocabulary to refer to and describe what may, in essence, be very similar concepts.  As a librarian, I have to figure out how to bridge those two vocabularies together so that searches for library materials are optimized for relevance.

Librarians spend a lot of time in the social science literature in library school; however, practicing academic law librarians rarely get a chance to look at much beyond legal periodicals and treatises.  This is too bad, because the literature in anthropology, sociology, linguistics, political science, history, philosophy, economics, and other areas can really help a researcher gain an understanding of law in a broader sense.  These disciplines can provide a framework for legal scholars to craft difficult, yet important, questions about law.  How does society benefit from law?  How does law contribute to the development of a community?  How should and do our understandings of history and ethics inform the development of a legal system?  In a societal sense, what does “justice” or “rule of law” mean, both theoretically and practically? What is the linguistic and social significance of legal terms of art?

If you are curious about the ways in which such questions can be addressed, I hope this new research guide can help direct you to library resources that are interesting and informative.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

Book Talk: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary, Wednesday April 17th at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary edited by Ilias Bantekas, Michael Ashley Stein & Dimitris Anastasiou (Oxford Univ. Press, Oct. 2018).

Professor Ilias Bantekas and Professor Michael Ashley Stein will be joined in discussion by:

Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer in Law, Harvard Law School; and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School;

Professor Gerald L. Neuman, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School;

Professor Ruth Okediji, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Co-Director of the Berkman Klein Center.

The discussion will be moderated by Professor William P. Alford, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, Jerome A. and Joan L. Cohen Professor of Law, Director, East Asian Legal Studies Program, and Chair, Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program and the Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein East A (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

UNCRPD Commentary poster

About The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary

“This treatise is a detailed article-by-article examination of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Each article of the CRPD contains a methodical analysis of the preparatory works, followed by an exhaustive examination of the contents of each article based on case law and concluding observations from the CRPD Committee, judgments from national and international courts and tribunals, pertinent UN and other reports, and literature on the topic in question.

Although primarily addressed to lawyers, the volume features commentary from a broad range of scholars across a variety of disciplines in order to provide a comprehensive study of the legal, psychological, education, sociological, and other aspects of the CPRD. This encyclopaedic commentary on the CRPD effectively covers all the issues arising from international disability law and practice.” — Oxford University Press

About the Editors

Ilias Bantekas is Professor of International Law and Arbitration, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) of the University of London. He acts as consultant to various inter-governmental organizations, such as UNDP, UN special procedures, the Council of Europe, and the EU. He also advises state entities, law firms, and NGOs in most fields of international law, human rights, international development law, and arbitration and is regularly appointed as arbitrator in international disputes. Key books include International Human Rights Law and Practice (2nd ed, CUP 2016), International Law Concentrate (OUP, 3rd ed, 2017), Sovereign Debt and Human Rights (OUP 2018), and The International Criminal Court and Africa (OUP 2017).

Michael Ashley Stein holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Co-founder and Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School for over a decade, Stein holds an Extraordinary Professorship at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, and a visiting professorship at the Free University of Amsterdam. Stein previously was Professor (and Cabell Professor) at William & Mary Law School, and also taught at New York University and Stanford law schools. An internationally recognized expert on disability law and policy, Stein participated in the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, works with disabled peoples’ organizations around the world, actively consults with governments on their disability laws and policies, advises a number of UN bodies and national human rights institutions, and has brought landmark litigation.

Book Talk: Cass Sunstein’s How Change Happens, Wednesday, April 10 at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of How Change Happens by Cass R. Sunstein (MIT Press, April 9, 2019). Professor Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School WCC Milstein West A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required, light lunch will be served

Sunstein How Change Happens Poster

About How Change Happens

“How does social change happen? When do social movements take off? 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. In this book, with the help of behavioral economics, psychology, and other fields, Cass Sunstein casts a bright new light on how change happens.

Sunstein focuses 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—a child who exclaims that the emperor has no clothes; a woman who says “me too.” 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.” — MIT Press

About Cass Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. He was the recipient of the 2018 Holberg Prize, one of the largest annual international research prizes awarded to scholars who have made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law, or theology. He is the author of The Cost-Benefit Revolution (MIT Press), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler), and other books.

More About How Change Happens

“It’s often said that the only constancy in life is change. Cass Sunstein weaves threads from diverse traditions in behavioral science to explain how big shifts get started.” — Angela Duckworth, Founder and CEO of Character Lab and Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania; author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

“If you think you’d like to change something—another person, an organization, or even your society—then try this test: Pick up this book and read five pages. If you don’t have your eyes opened with a fresh insight or useful tool, well, you’re probably not serious enough about making change.” — Chip Heath, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business; coauthor of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

“For those lamenting the status quo, and questioning whether change is possible, Cass Sunstein provides a ray of hope. Integrating insights from his own, and others’, research 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. Characteristically wise and erudite, How Change Happens is a must-read for those who want to understand, and help to instigate, social change.” — George Loewenstein, Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

“Many prominent scholars write about why desirable changes occur in some contexts but not others. None brings to the challenge the breadth of Cass Sunstein, or his depth of insight into the complexities involved. How Change Happens provides a breathtaking tour of the vast intellectual landscape on the subject, bringing into focus critical elements of the topography and interactions among its features. Academics and the wider public alike will benefit from Sunstein’s profound ideas, lucid exposition, and engaging writing.” — Timur Kuran, Professor of Economics and Political Science, Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies, Duke University

“Cass Sunstein’s new book is a tour de force exploring one of the most urgent problems of our time: how and why seemingly stable societal norms collapse and long-standing institutions come apart. Containing a feast of ideas on policy intervention, the book is bound to open up new avenues of research, and deserves to be read by students of economics, law, and politics.” — Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

 

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