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  • Nicholas A. Christakis, MD
  • Nicholas Christakis: Plagues, Ingenuity, and Free Expression | Heterodox Academy
    Nicholas Christakis: Plagues, Ingenuity, and Free Expression | Heterodox Academy
  • Nicholas Christakis - Blueprint  |  Cato Institute
    Nicholas Christakis - Blueprint | Cato Institute
  • Nicholas Christakis | The Power of Human Collaboration and Innovation During and After a Crisis
    Nicholas Christakis | The Power of Human Collaboration and Innovation During and After a Crisis
  • Nicholas Christakis: Understanding the Genetics of Social Networks
    Nicholas Christakis: Understanding the Genetics of Social Networks
  • The Broader Impact of Covid | Feedback Loop Ep.10 - Nicholas Christakis
    The Broader Impact of Covid | Feedback Loop Ep.10 - Nicholas Christakis
  • Harvard University's Nicholas Christakis on network interventions| WIRED 2012 | WIRED
    Harvard University's Nicholas Christakis on network interventions| WIRED 2012 | WIRED
  • "Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society" by Nicholas A. Christakis (Beckman-Brown)
    "Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society" by Nicholas A. Christakis (Beckman-Brown)
  • How Will Coronavirus Impact Us As a Society? | Amanpour and Company
    How Will Coronavirus Impact Us As a Society? | Amanpour and Company
  • COVID-19: Reflections on 2020 w/ Dr. Nicholas Christakis
    COVID-19: Reflections on 2020 w/ Dr. Nicholas Christakis
  • Nicholas Christakis responds to five questions about the World after Covid - 24 September, 2020.
    Nicholas Christakis responds to five questions about the World after Covid - 24 September, 2020.
  • GIM Town Hall meeting 5 21 20
    GIM Town Hall meeting 5 21 20
  • Networks Understanding Networks, Pt. 10: Nicholas Christakis
    Networks Understanding Networks, Pt. 10: Nicholas Christakis
  • Nicholas A. Christakis: What Do We Learn from Our Networks?
    Nicholas A. Christakis: What Do We Learn from Our Networks?
  • Physician Nicholas Christakis on Pandemic: "Willful Denial Won’t Help Us" | Amanpour and Company
    Physician Nicholas Christakis on Pandemic: "Willful Denial Won’t Help Us" | Amanpour and Company
  • Nicholas Christakis with Dr. Vivek Murthy: The Enduring Impact Of Coronavirus
    Nicholas Christakis with Dr. Vivek Murthy: The Enduring Impact Of Coronavirus
  • Nicholas Christakis Explains Sociology's Two Big Ideas
    Nicholas Christakis Explains Sociology's Two Big Ideas
  • IDSS Distinguished Seminar Speaker Nicholas Christakis - Fall 2017
    IDSS Distinguished Seminar Speaker Nicholas Christakis - Fall 2017
  • Nicholas Christakis on the Blueprint for a Good Society | RSA Replay
    Nicholas Christakis on the Blueprint for a Good Society | RSA Replay
  • Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives
    Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives
  • Campus Lecture 17th May 2021 -  Nicholas Christakis
    Campus Lecture 17th May 2021 - Nicholas Christakis
  • Coronavirus Update With Nicholas Christakis – November 23, 2020
    Coronavirus Update With Nicholas Christakis – November 23, 2020
  • Nicholas Christakis on The Evolutionary Origins of Society
    Nicholas Christakis on The Evolutionary Origins of Society

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®.

Nicholas A. Christakis, MD was last modified: August 4th, 2022 by Meg Virag

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Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live

Unleashing new divisions in our society, as well as opportunities for cooperation, this 21st-century pandemic has upended our lives in ways that will test, but not vanquish, our already frayed collective culture. Drawing on momentous (yet dimly remembered) historical epidemics, contemporary analyses, and cutting-edge research from a range of scientific disciplines, Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis’ new book, “Apollo’s Arrow,” explores what it means to live in a time of plague — an experience that is paradoxically uncommon to the vast majority of humans who are alive today, yet deeply fundamental to our species. “Apollo’s Arrow” offers a riveting account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it swept through our society in 2020 and 2021, and of how the recovery may unfold in the coming years. Featuring new, provocative arguments and vivid examples – ranging from medicine, epidemiology, and data science to history, sociology, economics, and genetics – this presentation offers a deeply informed account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and envisions what happens when the great force of a deadly germ meets the enduring reality of our evolved social nature. Dr. Christakis’ 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 look like so they can better plan ahead.

Social AI: How Artificial Intelligence Agents Can Help and Hinder Human Performance

A key challenge of artificial intelligence (AI) in coming years will be not so much how to optimize human-machine interactions, but rather how to optimize human-human interactions within what Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis calls “hybrid systems” of humans and machines. Christakis has shown how the careful yet simple programming of AI agents can enhance the performance of human groups, making people within such groups better able to cooperate, coordinate, and share information, ultimately contributing to their superior performance. In this presentation, he takes audiences behind the scenes of his groundbreaking, cutting-edge work on how AI agents can affect human social processes and performance. Christakis decodes his latest findings on the interactions between humans and AI and reveals what the disruptive introduction of AI in our work and lives could mean for the future of human social behavior.

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

The current climate of social upheaval and polarization can cause us to lose sight of the inherent goodness in people and society. But Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis’ research offers a more optimistic view. In this bold, innovative talk, based on his New York Times bestselling 2019 book “Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society,” Christakis reveals how our evolution has positively shaped our societies and provided us with a suite of beneficial social features — including our capacity for cooperation, friendship, love, and learning — that comprise our common humanity. Brimming with fascinating research and anecdotes drawn from history, philosophy, anthropology, genetics, sociology, economics, epidemiology, statistics and more, Christakis takes audiences on a captivating journey – from South Pacific shipwrecks to rural African tribes, from ancient civilizations to modern-day online communities – to reveal our inescapable social blueprint for goodness. He infuses his remarks with tangible and inspiring takeaways on how to improve cooperation, innovation and performance.

Social Networks for Good: Assembling Groups That Work Better Together

Human beings choose their friends, and often their neighbors and co-workers, and we inherit our relatives. Each person to whom we are connected does the same. In the end, we humans assemble ourselves into face-to-face social networks. Why do we do this? And how might a deep understanding of human social network structure and function be used to intervene in the world to make it better? By taking into account people’s structural embeddedness in social networks, and by understanding social influence, Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis says it is possible to intervene in social systems to enhance desirable population-level properties as diverse as health, wealth, cooperation, coordination, and learning. Drawing from research in his lab, he reveals three classes of interventions – involving both offline and online networks – that can bring about positive outcomes: (1) interventions that rewire the connections between people; (2) interventions that manipulate social contagion, facilitating the flow of desirable properties within groups (or decreasing the spread of undesirable properties like viruses or fake news); and (3) interventions that manipulate the position of people within network structures. He illustrates the variety of ways these interventions can be used to, for example, foster cooperation in networked groups online, facilitate the diffusion of innovation and coordination in groups, and change health behaviors in developing world villages or firms. He also focuses on recent experiments with “hybrid systems” comprised of both humans and artificial intelligence (AI) agents interacting in small groups. His work offers organizations in every sector a dramatic opportunity to improve key areas of business from marketing, customer service, and health care delivery, to innovation and team performance.

In Some Cultures, Multiple Fathers — Or No Fathers At All — Are The Norm June 17, 2022

In Some Cultures, Multiple Fathers — Or No Fathers At All — Are The Norm June 17, 2022

The Year of Covid-19

December 16, 2020

Greed is Dead

December 6, 2019

The Bad News First

August 24, 2007

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.

“Nicholas was absolutely terrific. The room was at capacity – 3,000+ or so and everyone was engaged, enlightened, enriched and entertained by his talk. No one left the room. A grand slam and excellent opening for our Annual Meeting. Numerous compliments and great post-talk questions.”

Heart Rhythm Society

“Nicholas Christakis presented visionary ideas on how social networking can be utilized strategically to maximize business opportunities on many levels.”

Sysco

Praise for “Apollo’s Arrow” “Seldom have we been gifted with a study of pandemic disease marked by such scope, wit, and erudition. Still rarer is one that appears while the rest of us scramble to make sense of a rapidly evolving crisis, one shaped by the very social forces that Nicholas Christakis has studied for decades. ‘Apollo’s Arrow’ is more than history’s first draft. It will live on as a journal of the plague years, certainly, and it inspires as it instructs. Definitive, engaging, and astonishing. A tour-de-force.”

Paul Farmer, Professor, Harvard Medical School & Founder, Partners in Health

“The world is ravenous for deep and accurate information about the most important event in the 21st century. No one is deeper than Nicholas Christakis, who ticks every box of expertise: medical, epidemiological, social, psychological, economic, historical. This is the place to go to understand the phenomenon that has turned the world, and our lives, upside down. ‘Apollo’s Arrow’ is gripping, enlightening, and vitally important.”

Steven Pinker, Author, “Enlightenment Now”

“In this brilliant and timely book, scientist, scholar, physician, and writer Nicholas Christakis shines the light of history on our dark moment, and illuminates it as no one else can. Insightful, informative, and urgently necessary, ‘Apollo’s Arrow’ is this year’s must-must-read.”

Daniel Gilbert, Author of “Stumbling on Happiness”

“Rich in psychological, sociological, and epidemiological insights, only Nicholas Christakis could write a book this comprehensive and profound and even optimistic during our national calamity.”

Amy Cuddy, Author of “Presence”

“Wow, what a feat this is — a fully developed book of extraordinary insight and superb narrative structure that was somehow written in the midst of a live-action recording of events. The journalist in me marvels. The failures Nicholas Christakis captures are so enormously discouraging, infuriating, and tragic. I can only imagine how long this book will be read for reasons beyond the obvious. I burned right through it and highly recommend it.”

Michael Koryta, Author of “If She Wakes”

“‘Apollo’s Arrow’ shoots straight and true to explain the scientific and social aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. Christakis’s background in biology, medicine, epidemiology, and sociology is a powerful formula for understanding this complex subject. I’m tempted to say that the gods created Christakis to write this book at this time. It is wise, vivid, and engaging.”

William D. Nordhaus, Author of “The Climate Casino” & 2018 Nobel Laureate in Economics

“To capture the COVID-19 pandemic requires unusually broad and deep scholarship, and an ability to integrate the too-often siloed domains of science, medicine, epidemiology, sociology, psychology, politics, and history, among other fields. In ‘Apollo’s Arrow,’ Nicholas Christakis accomplishes this challenging task as few others could, with unusual clarity and an endless array of surprising insights; this book will no doubt become essential reading for a very wide audience. A tour-de-force.”

Jeffrey Flier, MD, Former Dean, Harvard Medical School

“A useful contribution to this initial wave of COVID books, sensible and comprehensive, intelligent and well sourced.”

David Quammen, New York Times Book Review

“An instant history of an event that is by no means over. Exceptional. Magisterial.”

Niall Ferguson, Times Literary Supplement

“Gripping. An indelible portrait of a world transformed.”

Hamilton Cain, Star-Tribune