In the latest issue of The New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman takes an in-depth look at the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, including a trip to Flint, Michigan with Maya Shankar, Nate Higgins, and Will Tucker-Ray. The piece explores the team’s accomplishments, their uncertain future, and the push to tackle ever more challenging social issues using the tools and insights of behavioral science. You should definitely take the time to read the entire article.
We also reached out to Maya Shankar to ask if there was anything else she wanted to add. Here is her response:
If there’s one thing my teammates and I learned from our time on SBST, it’s that it truly takes a village for an initiative to take off in government. SBST is indebted to many academic scholars, governments, and behavioral-science thought leaders – Josh Wright & Piyush Tantia at ideas42, Amy Finkelstein at J-PAL, Craig Fox and Sim Sitkin at BSPA, Danny Goroff at Sloan, Eldar Shafir, Dick Thaler, David Laibson, and David Halpern and Owain Service at BIT to name just a few – but we are perhaps most indebted to the academic luminary, Cass Sunstein
In addition to co-writing the book that nudged us into existence, Cass’ leadership at the White House in the area of regulation led to profound changes in policy that have successfully addressed some of our Nation’s most pressing challenges. It was the honor of a lifetime (and humbling, to say the least!) for us to be given the opportunity to build on Cass’ legacy. While we as a team didn’t come within 500 miles of what Cass was able to accomplish, we feel grateful that he created an environment that enabled a team like SBST to exist in the first place. Moving forward, we can only hope that our small contributions during Obama’s second term match even just a small fraction of Cass’ remarkable record of public service, generosity, kind heart, and thoughtful mentorship over the years. SBST sends you a massive thank you, Cass (sung to the tune of Taylor Swift’s “Best Day” :)).