Learn More About Nicholas A. Christakis
Is it possible to organize groups in a way that generates high levels of innovation, cooperation, and productivity? And how can the science behind influencing group behavior assist in the pandemic recovery process?
For decades, renowned Yale social scientist, physician, epidemiologist, public health expert, and bestselling author Nicholas A. Christakis has studied the evolution of human social networks. As director of the Human Nature Lab and co-director of the Yale Institute for Network Science, he and his team research patterns of human social interactions and uncover ways to move group behavior in positive directions.
“Our research shows that groups of people have special properties that do not exist in the individuals themselves,” explains Christakis. “Like carbon, which can be transformed by arranging atoms into the forms of graphite (which is soft and dark) or diamond (which is hard and clear), new properties can arise in a collection of atoms that are distinct. It’s the same with humans. You can take a group of people and connect them one way, and they are creative, cooperative, healthy, and happy. Connect them another way and they have none of those properties. It’s not just the attributes of each person that matter. It’s how they are connected.”
Christakis and his team have studied influencers for over a decade. They discovered it is possible to influence offline and online social networks in ways that generate desired behaviors in such areas as health, wealth, cooperation, coordination, and learning. During his popular “Working Together” workshop, he shows participants how network science, game theory, and artificial intelligence highlight specific challenges groups face, and how to solve them. Using his lab’s breadboard software as a teaching tool, he actively demonstrates the science behind grouping people together in ways that generate optimal outcomes.
COVID-19: The Long View
In February 2020, when COVID-19 began spreading across the world, Christakis realized the epidemiology of the pathogen was not being taken seriously. In response, he began writing his latest book, “Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live” (October 2020), which follows the likely path of the pandemic to its end. His early paper analyzing the pandemic’s threat was published in the prestigious medical journal Nature; the magazine later highlighted the importance of “Apollo’s Arrow” in its year-end book review.
Christakis’ long view on the pandemic – informed by his thorough understanding of the social and public health implications of past pandemics – gives organizations and individuals a valuable and much-needed window into what the future of work and life may be. An electrifying speaker and prolific writer heralded for breaking down complex concepts with clarity, Christakis takes audiences on a journey to the forefront of innovation and understanding.
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Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University where he is appointed in the Departments of Sociology; Medicine; Data Science; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Biomedical Engineering; and the School of Management. He is the author of over 200 articles and several books. His influential 2009 book, “Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives,” documented how social networks affect our lives and was translated into over 20 foreign languages. His most recent work has used artificial intelligence (AI) agents (“bots”) to affect social processes online and in person.
His 2019 book, “Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society,” which detailed the evolutionary science behind the inherent goodness in human society, was a New York Times bestseller. It was later translated into 20 languages. His most recent book, “Apollo’s Arrow,” was longlisted for the 2021 PEN America Literary Awards and will be translated into over 10 languages.
In 2009, Christakis was named to Time magazine’s annual list of 100 most influential people in the world. In 2009 and in 2010, Foreign Policy magazine named him to its annual list of Top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2021, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens.
Christakis received his BS from Yale, his MD from Harvard Medical School, his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2006; the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010; and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.
Nicholas A. Christakis is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops, and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
EXECUTIVE WORKSHOP: Working Together
Using vivid examples, customized software developed by his laboratory (breadboard.yale.edu), and the active participation of workshop participants, Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis shows how groups of people in firms can work better together. Based on scientific discoveries published by his lab in journals such as Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Christakis explains how groups can be structured in ways that enhance their ability to cooperate, coordinate, innovate, and share information. Participants will also learn about the impact of network science and artificial intelligence on team performance.