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2014 Behavioral and Social Science Summit

Nov 8 2014

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Event Coverage

Each year CASBS hosts a summit in order to bring conversation and debate on a key topic in the social sciences to a wider audience. The City, the 2014 Behavioral and Social Science Summit, was held on Saturday, November 8, at Paul Brest Hall on the Stanford Campus. More than a dozen leading social and behavioral scientists joined in conversation with business leaders, writers, thought leaders, and policy makers to more fully consider the issues faced by people in urban environments.

  1. Keynote: School Reform and the Transformation of Cities: Pedro Noguera, professor of education, New York University, delivers the summit’s keynote presentation, which focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions as well as demographic trends in local, regional, and global contexts. Noguera is the recipient of the 2014 SAGE-CASBS Award in recognition of his outstanding achievement in advancing the understanding of the behavioral and social sciences as they are applied to pressing social issues.
  2. Rights to the City, Fights for the City: Sociologist Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California, speaks on the key role of equity and social movements in making livable cities, and how to merge social justice with a vibrant urban economy. Carrie Cihak, chief of policy, King County Executive (WA) discusses policy-making and collaboration for social justice in practice.
  3. Keynote: The Downtown Project: Tony Hsieh, CEO of, provides an overview of the Downtown Project, an ambitious urban revitalization effort based in a formerly ailing section of Las Vegas. The project relies on “the 3 C’s of Collisions, Co-learning and Connectedness.” While it has experienced some set backs, the three-year-old project is now home to 300 businesses and employs 800 people. Hsieh offers a detailed perspective of large-scale urban innovation.
  4. Cities and the Life Course: While the demographics of the life cycle favor men’s ability to pair and repair more than women’s, Pepper Schwarz, professor of sociology, University of Washington, argues that everyone is more likely to mate in cities. Professor of Human Development, Cornell University, Elaine Wethington considers the need to recast the aging population, who are increasingly healthy into their late 80s, as an important social resource. Moderated by senior VP of The California Endowment, Anthony Iton.
  5. Entrepreneurship and the City: In a conversation moderated by SPUR Editorial Director Alison Arieff, Margaret O’Mara, associate professor of history, University of Washington, and Mario Small, professor of sociology, Harvard University, challenge the current cultural construct of entrepreneurship. They point to a longer-term history, in which internationally and economically diverse populations moved to cities and seeded environments that allowed cities to become entrepreneurial hubs.
  6. Sustainable Cities: Author and environmental pioneer Stewart Brand moderates this discussion with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and architect Marion Weiss.
  7. Global Cities: Economist Ed Glaeser discusses cities from a global perspective with sociologist Saskia Sassen. Moderated by The New York Times's UN correspondent Somini Sengupta.
  8. Wrap Up: Margaret Levi, Sara Miller McCune Director of CASBS, and Ira Katznelson, SSRC President, consider the topics and research covered during the summit and outline the ongoing areas of potential scholarly inquiry.