Upcoming Virtual Event

Virtual Event: Cass Sunstein


What Stops Us from Getting Things Done
and What to Do about It


October 1, 2021
7:00 PM ET


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Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes renowned legal scholar CASS SUNSTEIN—the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School and author of Too Much Information—for a discussion of his latest book, Sludge: What Stops Us from Getting Things Done and What to Do about It.

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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Sludge on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.

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About Sludge

We've all had to fight our way through administrative sludge—filling out complicated online forms, mailing in paperwork, standing in line at the motor vehicle registry. This kind of red tape is a nuisance, but, as Cass Sunstein shows in Sludge, it can also impair health, reduce growth, entrench poverty, and exacerbate inequality. Confronted by sludge, people just give up—and lose a promised outcome: a visa, a job, a permit, an educational opportunity, necessary medical help. In this lively and entertaining look at the terribleness of sludge, Sunstein explains what we can do to reduce it.

Because of sludge, Sunstein explains, too many people don't receive benefits to which they are entitled. Sludge even prevents many people from exercising their constitutional rights—when, for example, barriers to voting in an election are too high. (A Sludge Reduction Act would be a Voting Rights Act.) Sunstein takes readers on a tour of the not-so-wonderful world of sludge, describes justifications for certain kinds of sludge, and proposes “Sludge Audits” as a way to measure the effects of sludge. On balance, Sunstein argues, sludge infringes on human dignity, making people feel that their time and even their lives don't matter. We must do better.

Praise for Sludge

Sludge prevents people from accessing things—money, resources—that they are entitled to, but it hurts vulnerable populations even more. Sunstein provides an excellent treatise on how to combat the evil cousin of ‘nudge’!” —Dilip Soman, Canada Research Chair in Behavioral Sciences and Economics, University of Toronto

“For those doing battle with procedural waste, persistent inequality, or demotivation, Sludge offers an indispensable set of tools to remove sticky impediments—and a lens that will the change the way we develop, implement, and assess policy.” —Cait Lamberton, Alberto I. Duran President’s Distinguished Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania 

“In this eminently readable and important book, Cass Sunstein details the little frictions—be they incomprehensible forms or hours spent in the rain waiting to vote—that stop us from getting what we want, including how sludge can steal our time, and even our dignity, in the process. Sludge should be required reading for anyone interested in public policy.” —Pamela Herd, Professor of Public Affairs, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University

Cass R. Sunstein
Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School and Chair of the Technical Advisory Group on Behavioral Insights and Sciences at the World Health Organization. He was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. He is the author of The Cost-Benefit Revolution, How Change Happens, Too Much Information (all three published by the MIT Press), Nudge (with Richard H. Thaler), and other books.

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Virtual Event Series

Harvard Book Store’s award-winning event series continues online! Named "Best of Boston: 2020 Best Virtual Author Series" and "2021 Best Virtual Author Series" by Boston magazine.

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