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Shared Academic Experience: Class of 2019 and Transfer Students


A copy of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives will be mailed to your home address in early August, courtesy of the Sphinx Foundation at Dartmouth.

We thank them for their generosity in support of new students.


Each year, a member of the Dartmouth faculty is asked to curate a Shared Academic Experience to meaningfully engage incoming students and encourage community dialogue and personal reflection.

This year, Thalia Wheatley, an associate professor in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, has selected the book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler to launch our shared "Experience."

By early August, you will receive at your home address a bound version of Connected.* The purchase of the books and their mailing are courtesy of the Sphinx Foundation at Dartmouth.

Please read the book and watch for communication during August, in preparation for Professor Wheatley's Shared Academic Experience lecture during Orientation.

Enjoy! We'll talk again soon ...

Background Information

From Professor Wheatley on Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives:

"Humans are an intensely social species. We live in dense hive-like social networks that extend beyond our friends to the friends of our friends and further still, such that we can be influenced by people we know only distantly due to the web of contacts between us and them. Practically anything can proliferate through these networks from beliefs to behaviors, with the capacity for profound transformations (e.g., the Arab Spring and the increased acceptance of gay marriage).

I chose Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler because it discusses the powerful influence of our social networks in a way that is simultaneously fun, compelling and scholarly. It convinced me that a deep understanding of human psychology requires understanding how we are connected. My own research now investigates how our brains influence, and are influenced by, the social networks in which we are embedded. My hope is that by reading this book you will be more informed about how the links between us shape our thoughts, experiences, and actions.

This knowledge also carries a responsibility. If your beliefs and actions influence distant others, should that change what you do? Conversely, if your social network influences you more than you think, should you think more carefully about who is in your network? College is a time of forging new and long-lasting networks. I hope you enjoy Connected and I look forward to meeting you all in September when Nicholas Christakis and I will discuss the book during New Student Orientation."


Thalia Wheatley is an associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College. Her overarching research focus is to better understand human social intelligence. She asks questions such as “How does the human brain understand other minds?” and “How do our social networks change the way we think?” Professor Wheatley uses multiple methods to answer these questions including cross-cultural research and neuroimaging (fMRI and EEG) techniques. Additionally, she has several ongoing multidisciplinary projects with professors in the departments of Computer Science and Music, and the Tuck School of Business. Her lab is comprised of postdoctoral and graduate fellows as well as several undergraduate research assistants. Professor Wheatley earned her B.A from the University of Texas at Austin, and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

 Thalia Wheatley




Last Updated: 8/12/15