On June 29, 2012, social and behavioral scientists, publishers, journalists, practitioners, and world-renowned authors converged for a day of enlightening conversation and exchanging of provocative new ideas at the 2012 Behavioral Science Summit at Stanford University. The theme for the event was SMS – Social Meets Science: Bite-Sized Nuggets of Knowledge and it was run by the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS).
SAGE founder Sara Miller McCune is a long-time supporter of the Center as it aligns with SAGE’s mission to disseminate social science research and education. SAGE was a proud sponsor of this event and, in addition to Sara Miller McCune, Michele Sordi, Vice President and Editorial Director and Rolf Janke, Vice President and Publisher of SAGE Reference, also attended the Summit. SAGE attendees lauded the Center staff for their preparation and coordination of the event and the highly interactive environment of the sessions.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, Tipping Point, and Outliers, kicked off the event and truly set the tone with a provocative talk on “The Generational Paradigm Shift” between two seemingly different generational groups: The Baby Boomers and the Millenials. He compared key movements by both groups of people – the Civil Rights Movement of the Baby Boomers and the Occupy movement of today’s generation of young people, discussing their differences as well as their lasting societal impacts. Gladwell discussed how the Civil Rights Movement was more structured, hierarchical and organized, while the Occupy Movement has been decentralized, flexible, and leaderless (citing Twitter as a major organizing agent of the cause). Audience members were certainly left thinking long after his engaging address ended, as Gladwell posed the following questions:
Are the strategies and tactics of the Millenials (such as social media) permanent or are they just a phase?
How much lasting impact will social networks really have on societal change? What is their real value?
How free and open are internet-mediated social interactions? Are they really liberating and flexible or are they agents of hierarchy?
Gladwell’s address was followed by concurrent interactive sessions in the morning and afternoon by 18 speakers who are experts in their respective fields as well as a “Behavioral Sciences and the Media” lunchtime panel. Speakers addressed topics such as Big Data, social networks, and cognition.
CASBS Summit attendees were lucky enough to have a second keynote speaker – Stephen Pinker, author of Blank Slate, who spoke about the central theme of his latest title, The Better Angels of Our Nature. In this new book, Pinker asserts that societal violence has in fact decreased with human evolution. Contrary to popular belief, he states that today we may be living in one of the most peaceful eras of human history.
The CASBS staff’s extraordinary efforts to plan this enlightening event were well-received. Michele Sordi put it succinctly when she stated, “If the goal of the Summit was to bring together academics, government officials, journalists, business professionals, and big thinkers in the behavioral sciences for stimulating conversations on the latest developments in the behavioral sciences, then this event truly hit the ball out of the park.”
SAGE is committed to supporting the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and hopes to be a part of CASBS Summits in the future.