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Wednesday, February 15, 3:30-5:00 PM, Morrison Commons

Chris Miller (Yale) "Gorbachev's Asian Pivot and the End of the Cold War"

 Co-sponsored with the International History Group

 Abstract: For half a century the Soviet economy was inefficient but stable. In the late 1980s, to the surprise of nearly everyone, it suddenly collapsed. Why did this happen? And what role did Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's economic reforms play in the country's dissolution? 

The Soviet Union is often blamed from failing to learn from China's more successful transition from socialism to capitalism. Why were Deng Xiaoping's policies so much more successful than Gorbachev's?

 Chris Miller is the Associate Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy at Yale. He has previously served as a lecturer at the New Economic School in Moscow, a visiting researcher and the Carnegie Moscow Center, and a research associate at the Brookings Institution. He has held fellowships from the German Marshall Fund and the Hoover Institution. His first book, The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the USSR, was published in 2016. He received his PhD and MA from Yale University and his BA in history from Harvard University.


 Tuesday, February 28, 4:30-6:00PM, Rocky 1

Joseph Henrich (Harvard), The Secret of our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating our Species, and Making us Smarter

Co-sponsored with the Department of Anthropology

Abstract: Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments. What has enabled us to dominate the globe, more than any other species, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains--on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations.

Joseph Henrich is Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. His research focuses on evolutionary approaches to psychology, decision-making and culture, and includes topics related to cultural learning, cultural evolution, culture-gene coevolution, human sociality, prestige, leadership, large-scale cooperation, religion and the emergence of complex human institutions. Methodologically, he integrates ethnographic tools from anthropology with experimental techniques drawn from psychology and economics. He has published in economics journals, such as "Can War Promote Cooperation?" in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (2016) and In search of Homo economicus: Behavioral experiments in 15 small-scale societies American Economic Review (2001).

Last Updated: 2/24/17