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Human Centered features conversations about projects and research undertaken by CASBS fellows and affiliates whose work engages central themes of concern to the Center. The podcast also features audio versions of events from CASBS's online webcast series, Social Science for a World in Crisis, as well as interviews with renowned fellows from CASBS history.

CASBS brings together deep thinkers to address wicked problems and significant societal challenges. It empowers them to challenge boundaries and assumptions in order to advance our understanding of the full range of human beliefs, behaviors, interactions, and institutions. As a leading incubator of human-centered knowledge, CASBS is a place that is, well…human centered.

Want alerts about new episodes? Subscribe to Human Centered on your mobile device using your favorite podcast app. If you access through an app, you'll find notes for each episode that link to supplemental resources of relevance.

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Producer: Mike Gaetani
Co-producer, audio engineer, and editor: Joe Monzel 


Episode 70

A Social Science of Caregiving

February 26, 2024      

Recorded before a live audience, Margaret Levi, Alison Gopnik, & Anne-Marie Slaughter discuss a CASBS project, "The Social Science of Caregiving," which is reimagining the philosophical, psychological, biological, political, & economic foundations of care and caregiving. The goal is a coherent empirical and theoretical account or synthesis of care that advances understandings and policy discussions. Read an article about the project. Episode co-producer: Zachary Ugolnik.

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Episode 69

The Shadow of Cybersecurity Expertise

January 17, 2024      

Pulitzer Prize-winning tech journalist and 2017-18 CASBS fellow John Markoff chats with 2022-23 CASBS fellow Rebecca Slayton on how the field of computing expertise evolved, eventually giving rise to the niche of professionals who protect systems from cyber-attacks. Slayton's forthcoming book explores the governance and risk implications emerging from the fact that cybersecurity experts must establish their authority by paradoxically revealing vulnerabilities and insecurities of that which they seek to protect.

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Episode 68

Challenging History Erasures to Expand Possible Futures

December 13, 2023      

Two-time CASBS fellow Fred Turner engages CASBS board of directors chair Abby Smith Rumsey before a live audience to discuss her new book "Memory, Edited: Taking Liberties with History." When the erasure or distortion of collective memory through storytelling hijacks fact, truth, and history itself, what kind of information infrastructures can effectively confront those false narratives? Turner and Rumsey explore the tensions between history and storytelling and resulting implications for political beliefs, actions, and our collective sense of reality.

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Episode 67

Toward a Society of Shared Recognition

November 28, 2023      

Renowned sociologist Michèle Lamont (CASBS fellow, 2002-03) discusses her new book, Seeing Others, with former CASBS director Woody Powell. The book assembles decades of Lamont’s scholarship, engaging some of contemporary society’s most elemental challenges and advancing key building blocks toward a shared human experience marked by greater inclusion, belonging, dignity, empathy, and equality.

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Episode 66

Toward Cross-disciplinary Consensus About Our (Mis)Information Environment

November 2, 2023      

Fully understanding and regulating our complex information ecosystems will require creating new cultures and modes of collaborating, new organizational frameworks and, yes, working with generative AI models in service of aggregating actionable scientific knowledge. Angela Aristidou (CASBS fellow, 2022-23) navigates the crucial questions and challenges with Phil Howard (CASBS fellow, 2008-09), a renowned scholar of tech innovation and public policy as well as co-founder and chair of the new International Panel on the Information Environment (IPIE).

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Episode 65

The Memory Science Disruptor

September 11, 2023     

Dan Simon, a 2022-23 CASBS fellow and USC law professor, joins in conversation with Elizabeth Loftus, a 1978-79 CASBS fellow and Distinguished Professor at UC Irvine. Loftus is known in the public sphere through her decades-long study of memory – specifically, its malleability and fallibility – as well as her application of findings as an expert witness or consultant in hundreds of legal cases. Loftus's book "Eyewitness Testimony," completed at the Center, charted the course of her career that followed and serves as this episode's launching point.

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Episode 64

Jonathan Jansen's Power of Craft

August 28, 2023    

While you're listening to this episode, 2016-17 CASBS fellow Jonathan Jansen likely will write another few thousand words. As a scholar of education & leader of educational institutions, Jansen is South Africa's most towering figure. To call him prolific is a gross understatement. He writes a steady stream of books & more books. As a public intellectual he writes a separate steady stream of columns & essays. And he's written a family memoir too. We bring 2022-23 CASBS fellow Zimitri Erasmus, a social anthropologist who is working on a book on writing praxis, in conversation with Jansen to unlock some secrets & insights into his most powerful & liberating weapon for engaging the world – writing.

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Episode 63

Deploying Behavioral Science on the Front Lines of Social Protest

August 1, 2023   

What are the most effective collective actions that social protest movements can or should undertake in the context of deep societal conflict and polarization? CASBS fellows Eran Halperin (2022-23) and Robb Willer (2012-13, 2020-21) compare their cross-national research findings and explore Halperin's real-time applied work with the dramatic, ongoing protests in Israel.

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Episode 62

Frederick Cooper's Illumination of History

July 10, 2023  

Drawing upon a career of scholarship extending from studies of labor, citizenship, and the state in Africa to explorations of global empire, colonialism, and globalization, three-time CASBS fellow Frederick Cooper – in conversation with 2022-23 fellows Jean Beaman and Martin Williams – gives a master class on how critical and relational thinking serve historical inquiries that advance our understandings.

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Episode 61

Developing AI Like Raising Kids - Alison Gopnik & Ted Chiang

June 1, 2023 

Should we care for machines the way we do for children? The question helps animate this fascinating conversation between renowned psychologist Alison Gopnik, a former CASBS fellow (2003-04) and current leader of a CASBS-based project on "The Social Science of Caregiving," and acclaimed science fiction author Ted Chiang. CASBS program director Zachary Ugolnik is guest co-producer of this episode.
*In February 2024, the online magazine Public Books published an edited transcript of this episode. Read it here.

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Episode 60

New Visions for Effective Worker Influence

May 22, 2023  

John Ahlquist (2017-18 CASBS fellow), Oren Cass, & Veena Dubal (2022-23 CASBS fellow) join in conversation with Roy Bahat to explore how we can build effective workers' organizations in an era of precarious employment, fissuring workplaces, distributed supply chains, & outmoded labor laws & regulations. Episode produced in association with the Center's Creating a New Moral Political Economy program.

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Episode 59

A Different Glenn Loury

April 27, 2023 

2022-23 CASBS fellow Rohini Somanathan chats with renowned economist, public intellectual, & 2015-16 CASBS fellow Glenn Loury. Having recently completed a draft of his memoir, Loury reflects on why he pursued economics; the role of institutions in providing intellectual space and stimulus; his latest thoughts on the persistence of racial inequality, and much more.

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Episode 58

Interdependence & Climate Change - Robert Keohane

March 27, 2023 

Three-time CASBS fellow and social science titan Robert Keohane chats with 2022-23 CASBS fellows Henry Farrell and Rebecca Slayton on applying aspects of his classic works in international relations theory to the comparative politics of climate change policy; projects that failed or went unrecognized; the genesis of the famous methods book coauthored with King and Verba, and more.


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Episode 56

Toward Better Evidence-Based Policymaking

December 2, 2022 

How can scholarly researchers and government policymakers advance their collaborative relationships in service of generating evidence-informed outcomes that yield more prosperous, equitable, and inclusive communities? Panelists Jake Bowers (CASBS fellow, 2018-19), Carrie Cihak (2017-18), Dan Hopkins, and Piyush Tantia (2021-22) join IDinsight CEO & 2019-20 CASBS fellow Ruth Levine in this enriching conversation. From a CASBS webcast episode produced in association with the Center's Causal Inference for Social Impact Lab project.

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Episode 55

Creating a New Political Economy Framework

September 1, 2022 

Debra Satz, a 2017-18 CASBS fellow and dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford, moderates a discussion on the prospects for economic theory to contribute to a more equitable, dignified & ethical political economy. The distinguished panel consists of Elizabeth Anderson, Samuel Bowles, Nobel laureate Sir Angus Deaton, and Amy Kapczynski.

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Episode 54

Movements & Contentious Politics - Sid Tarrow

July 26, 2022 

Legendary political scientist & two-time CASBS fellow Sidney Tarrow discusses his new book as well as his decades-long exploration of protests, social movements, and contentious politics with 2021-22 CASBS fellow Edward Walker.

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Episode 53

Better AI Through Social Science

July 5, 2022 

NBC News correspondent and 2018-19 CASBS fellow Jacob Ward leads a discussion with Kristian Hammond, CASBS faculty fellow Daniel Ho, and Jennifer Logg on the role social sciences must play in developing safer, more effective, and ethical artificial intelligence technologies.

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Episode 52

Don Norman: By Design

June 6, 2022 

Don Norman, cognitive scientist, design legend, and 1973-74 CASBS fellow chats with 2021-22 fellow Piyush Tantia. They discus the evolution of behavioral science in contemporary design practice. From an early run-in with B.F. Skinner, to the study of neural networks and cognitive processes, his time at Apple, CASBS, and more.

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Episode 51

Understanding Gen Z

April 7, 2022 

Authors Roberta Katz, Sarah Ogilvie, Jane Shaw, & Linda Woodhead chat with Kat Tenbarge about their new book "Gen Z Explained" -- the product of a CASBS project -- which explores the values, perceptions, motivations, and habits of the generation that has never known a world without the internet.

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Episode 50

Psychology of Political Beliefs

February 28, 2022 

Psychology scholar & 2020-21 CASBS fellow Vivian Zayas interviews David O. Sears, a two-time CASBS fellow (1988-89, 1992-93) and distinguished professor of psychology and political science at UCLA. The two discuss political attitudes and biases in the context of immigrant and minority communities, rural America, and social media.

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Episode 49

Dreaming a New Academy

December 15, 2021 

Renowned pedagogical theorist, educator, & 2003-04 CASBS fellow Gloria Ladson-Billings chats with 2020-21 CASBS fellow Nuraan Davids about the history, progress, and challenges of creating more equitable institutions of education.

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Episode 48

High-tech Modernism

December 1, 2021 

CASBS research affiliate Henry Farrell and former CASBS fellow Marion Fourcade engage in a roundtable discussion with danah boyd, William Janeway, Charlton McIlwain, and Zeynep Tufekci on creating a moral political economy of high-tech governance.

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Episode 47

Minds Memes & Windsurfing

November 9, 2021 

Allison Stanger (2020-21 CASBS fellow), professor of international politics and economics at Middlebury College, interviews former 1979-80 CASBS fellow and world renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett. He discusses his time at CASBS, his journey through academia, recent works, artificial intelligence, why Darwin’s idea is the best anyone ever had, memes, gods, and, yes, windsurfing at CASBS.

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Episode 46

Violence & Self-domestication

September 28, 2021 

CASBS faculty fellow James Holland Jones interviews former CASBS fellow Richard Wrangham, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University. They discuss the early development of their discipline, primate and human violence, and the value of evolutionary frameworks and interdisciplinary approaches to understanding human behavior.

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Episode 45

The Voices of Americans in Crisis

September 14, 2021 

The American Voices Project is a bold new experiment in understanding the everyday experiences of Americans. Renowned author and journalist James Fallows moderates a conversation with key AVP researchers Corey Fields, David Grusky, and Hazel Markus.

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Episode 44

The Active Society

August 31, 2021 

CASBS fellow Jerry Davis (2020-21) interviews legendary scholar-activist Amitai Etzioni, a 1965-66 CASBS fellow, about his influential book “The Active Society,” the fracturing of our shared realm of fact, the necessity of re-encapsulating capitalism, and his project to promote civil dialogues.

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Episode 43

How Social Science Advances our Understanding of Pandemics

July 15, 2021 

KQED Forum's Alexis Madrigal moderates a conversation with Peter Loewen, Adrian Raftery, Prerna Singh, and Rob Willer on the intersections among public health, social and cultural influences, and social and behavioral sciences insights.

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Episode 42

What Does Human Flourishing Look Like?

June 25, 2021 

Gillian Tett of the Financial Times engages in conversation with Jenna Bednar, Hilary Cottam, and James Manyika on rethinking the fundamental logic of how we define human flourishing and successful societies. All are members of CASBS's Creating a New Moral Political Economy network.

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Episode 41

An Earth-friendly Political Economy

May 28, 2021

Arun Majumdar guides a discussion on the considerations and challenges of shaping a sustainable political economy with guests Eric Beinhocker, Genevieve Bell, & Kim Stanley Robinson, all members of CASBS's "Creating a New Moral Political Economy" program.

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Episode 40

The Death of Nature

April 29, 2021

Stanford historian & former CASBS fellow Paula Findlen chats with renowned environmental history, philosophy, & ethics scholar - and two-time former CASBS fellow -- Carolyn Merchant, on the 40th anniversary of her revolutionary book “The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution.”

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Episode 39

America's Black-White Divide: Looking Back, Looking Around, Looking Forward

February 26, 2021

CASBS Director Margaret Levi moderates a conversation exploring the prospects for progress on racial justice in the U.S. with Lawrence D. Bobo, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Claude Steele.

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Episode 38

What Institutional Courage Looks Like

February 26, 2021

Estelle Freedman moderates a discussion on how institutions can respond productively to challenges and promote individual and community flourishing with panelists Jennifer Freyd, Jennifer Gómez, and Carolyn Warner.

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Episode 37

The Digital Dilemma in the Time of COVID

January 26, 2021

Pulitzer-winning journalist John Markoff moderates a discussion on the effects of digital technologies on memory, cognition, & society w/Byron Reeves, Nilam Ram, Abby Smith Rumsey & Maryanne Wolf.

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Episode 36

Reforming Democratic Institutions and Practices

November 13, 2020

Luis Fraga moderates a discussion on the vulnerabilities in our political and electoral processes and correctives for them with eminent panelists James Fishkin, Martin Gilens, and Jane Mansbridge.

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Episode 35

The Persistence of Racial Inequality

November 13, 2020

CASBS Director Margaret Levi moderates a discussion on the causal factors perpetuating racial inequality in the United States with panelists Joshua Cohen, Francis Fukuyama, Glenn Loury, and Alondra Nelson.

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Episode 34

Can We Rebuild Social Cohesion in The U.S.?

November 13, 2020

New York Times columnist David Brooks moderates a discussion on the history and possible future of social cohesion and depolarization with panelists: Robert Putnam, Danielle Allen, Eric Klinenberg, and Shaylyn Romney Garrett.

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Episode 33

What Will Become of Work and Workers?

November 13, 2020

CASBS Director Margaret Levi leads a panel discussion on the changing political and economic context for workers in light of the COVID pandemic with former CASBS fellows Tara Behrend, Louis Hyman, Phyllis Moen, and current CASBS research affiliate John Irons.

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Episode 32

Analyzing Social Media Influence

November 6, 2020

John Markoff chats with Sandra González-Bailón, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and 2019-20 CASBS fellow, about the influence of social media platforms on news and political activism.

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Episode 31

Higher Ed at the Crossroads

September 29, 2020

Debra Satz moderates a conversation with Nina Bandelj, Jonathan Jansen, and Caitlin Zaloom on the COVID-induced pressures faced by colleges and universities, and their to struggle to balance their students’ education with public health concerns and financial sustainability.

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Episode 30

Reimagining the Corporation

September 15, 2020

Paul Brest moderates a conversation with Shona Brown, Colin Mayer, and Margaret O'Mara, on the role of business in society and the evolving relationship between corporations and government, both before and during the COVID pandemic.

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Episode 29

Metrics & Misconduct in Scholarly Publishing

September 8, 2020

The creativity of academic cheaters will amaze you: Mario Biagioli, a UCLA Distinguished Professor of Law and Communication as well as a 2019-20 CASBS fellow, chats with Host John Markoff about the history and recent trends of fraud and gaming in scholarly publishing.

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Episode 28

Race and the Movement for Justice in America

August 26, 2020

Join Clayborne Carson, Douglas McAdam, and Brenda Stevenson in conversation with Xavier de Souza Briggs as they explore how insights from America’s distant and near past can inform the possibilities for durable, transformational change in our time.

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Episode 27

Polarization and Contentious Politics in the Age of Covid

August 6, 2020

California Supreme Court Justice & CASBS board chair Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar moderates a conversation with former CASBS fellows Christian Davenport and Rachel Kleinfeld, on the topic what polarization is, why it exists, and why it persists.

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Episode 26

America As a Developing Country?

July 20, 2020

California Supreme Court Justice & CASBS board chair Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Stanford political scientist & former CASBS fellow Barry Weingast, and CASBS director Margaret Levi use a recent article they coauthored as a jumping off point for a discussion on what we can learn from the U.S. in its political-economic development in the first half of the 20th century that applies to the U.S. and its state capacity today and in the future.

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Episode 25

Welfare as Tool of Repression in China

July 16, 2020

Jennifer Pan, a 2019-20 CASBS fellow, is an associate professor of communication at Stanford University. Host John Markoff chats with her about her recent book “Welfare for Autocrats,” which explores how the Chinese government has reshaped a social assistance program into a tool of surveillance and repression.

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Episode 24

Ethically Editing Genomes

July 16, 2020

Alta Charo, a 2019-20 CASBS fellow, is a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. Host John Markoff spoke with Charo about the ethics of genome editing in the fields of ecology and human biology.

Shout out to CASBS information manager Jason Gonzales for opening this episode for us!

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Episode 23

Freedom To Oppress

May 28, 2020

Historian and 2019-20 CASBS fellow Jefferson Cowie talks with host John Markoff about the inescapable legacy of slavery, the political fracturing of labor, anti-statism, and whether the current structure of federalism can adequately address issues like climate change and pandemics.

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Episode 22

Repairing Political Redistricting

April 23, 2020

Host John Markoff chats with Wendy K. Tam Cho, a 2019-20 CASBS fellow, Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and professor of political science, statistics, mathematics, law, and Asian American studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Cho’s computer modeling produces and analyzes millions of finely tuned district maps. Cho and Markoff discuss the ways in which technology can reshape the process of political redistricting.

Shout-out to Drina Adams, finance associate on the CASBS staff, for opening the episode for us!

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Episode 21

From Big Data to Big Variables

March 31, 2020

Susan Holmes, a Stanford professor of statistics and 2017-18 CASBS fellow, chats with host John Markoff about her applied work on the human microbiome, the difficulty with P-Values, the power of heterogeneous data, and her research on Claude Shannon - widely known as the father of information theory and himself a CASBS fellow in 1957-58.

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Episode 20

The Complexity Economist

March 5, 2020

Economist and 2019-20 CASBS Fellow Brian Arthur chats with John about the evolution of technology, the application of complexity theory in economics, and society’s struggle with distributive economics in an age of increasing productivity.

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Episode 19

The AI Ethics Landscape

February 19, 2020

Host John Markoff chats with artist and AI ethics advocate Şerife (Sherry) Wong about “Fluxus Landscape,” her interactive map - created in partnership with CASBS - of private and public organizations engaged in work on the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence.

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Episode 18

Putting Peer Pressure to Work

February 5, 2020

Robert Frank, professor of economics at Cornell University and CASBS fellow 1992-93, sat down with host John Markoff to discuss his latest book “Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work”.

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Episode 17

Foreclosing on America

January 8, 2020

Anthropologist and former CASBS fellow Noelle Stout teaches and researches at Apple University. Host John Markoff speaks with Stout about her 2019 book Dispossessed: How Predatory Bureaucracy Foreclosed on the American Middle Class, partially written at CASBS during her 2016-17 fellowship year, as well as her current work integrating social science into technologies like artificial intelligence.

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Episode 16

Sexual Violence & Institutional Courage

December 4, 2019

Jennifer Freyd, a CASBS fellow in 1989-90 & 2018-19, is a professor of psychology at the Univ. of Oregon and a renowned expert on interpersonal and institutional trauma caused by sexual violence and discrimination. Host John Markoff speaks with Dr. Freyd about her career of groundbreaking research, from developing betrayal trauma theory to current work supporting institutional courage.

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Episode 15

Homo economicus: An Endangered Species?

November 13, 2019

Dan Kelly, 2018-19 CASBS Fellow, is an associate professor of philosophy at Purdue University who focuses on the intersection of philosophy, cognitive science, moral theory, and evolution. Dan chats with host John Markoff talk about implicit and algorithmic bias, social norms and morality, and ethics in technology.

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Episode 14

An Organized Labor Revival?

October 31, 2019

Former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse visited CASBS to share insights from his 30 years of reporting with fellows and members of CASBS’s Creating a New Moral Political Economy project. While at the Center, Greenhouse also sat down with host John Markoff and guest host Paul Saffo to discuss his new book, Beaten Down, Worked up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor (2019).

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Episode 13

The Boundaries in Our Heads

October 22, 2019

Host John Markoff speaks with 2018-19 CASBS fellow Cara Wong, a political scientist based at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about the relationship between place and politics, and the ways in which place is represented in the minds of individuals.

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Episode 12

Tech Innovation Needs Social Science

October 18, 2019

Host John Markoff spoke with 2017-18 CASBS fellow Arati Prabhakar, former director of DARPA, NIST, and now Founder and CEO of Actuate Innovation. They discussed the state of R&D in the US, Silicon Valley, data privacy, autonomous weapons, and more.

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Episode 11

Policy Tools to Fight Community Poverty & Inequality

September 17, 2019

John Markoff spoke with 2018-19 CASBS Fellow Kirsten Wysen about her work as a public policy analyst for King County, WA - which includes Seattle - and its “Communities of Opportunity” program. They discussed structural racism and debt in poor communities, and their relation to health.

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Episode 10

Social Science and Saving Democracy from the Internet

September 3, 2019

John Markoff sat down with Nate Persily, a 2017-18 CASBS fellow and the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. They discussed the challenge of ethically using social media data in both social science and politics, election security and law, and whether democracy can survive the internet.

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Episode 9

Digital Media, Platforms, and Governance

September 3, 2019

2018-19 CASBS fellow and USC associate professor of communication Mike Ananny chats with host John Markoff about the intersection of journalism, technology, and media regulation.

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Episode 8

Black America & Art: Sociology, Diversity, & Identity

August 5, 2019

Patricia Banks, a 2018-19 CASBS fellow and sociologist at Mount Holyoke College, discusses African American representation in the art world, the interplay of patronage and cultural identity, and the concept of diversity capital.

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Episode 7

Social Movements in Contentious Times

July 22, 2019

2018-19 CASBS fellow and political scientist Kim Williams sat down to discuss Black Lives Matter, social movements, the census, and the contentious political landscape of the last decade.

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Episode 6

New is Old: Robots & Tech in Antiquity

June 7, 2019

Is the concept of artificial intelligence really that modern? John Markoff sat down with 2018-19 CASBS fellow and historian Adrienne Mayor to discuss Ancient Greek notions of robots and manufactured life.

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Episode 5

Death and Chimp Behavior

May 7, 2019

2018-19 CASBS fellow Elizabeth Lonsdorf, a primatologist at Franklin and Marshall College, discusses the state of wild chimpanzee research and the question of whether chimps have a concept of death.

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Episode 4

Embracing Tech While Saving Democracy from It

March 30, 2019

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former president of Estonia and 2018-19 CASBS fellow, discusses recent technological attacks on democracies around the world, and how we can address them.

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Episode 3

Labor & Work in the Era of AI & Automation

March 30, 2019

Jerry Jacobs, a 2018-19 CASBS fellow and University of Pennsylvania sociologist, discusses labor dynamics with regard to automation, job replacement, and historical statistics.

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Episode 2

Tech and the Evolution of Silicon Valley

March 30, 2019

Jacob Ward, a 2018-19 CASBS fellow and a technology and science correspondent for NBC News, discusses techno-utopianism and its relation with Silicon Valley.

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Episode 1

Creating a New Moral Economy

March 30, 2019   

Political scientist Margaret Levi has served as CASBS director since 2014. She discusses the need to explore the morals which underlie our economic systems.

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Human Centered
Producer: Mike Gaetani
Co-producer, audio engineer, and editor: Joe Monzel

CASBS thanks 2017-18 fellow and renowned journalist John Markoff, co-founder of Human Centered and its inaugural host (episodes 1-25, 29, 32). John occasionally returns as a guest host.