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First Word

Turning the page

Northeastern leaders reflect on books that shape their vision of the future — and give them hope.

Alicia Modestino
Director of Research, Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy; Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Economics

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
Caroline Criado Perez

Perez deftly weaves together historical accounts, anecdotes, and recent data to demonstrate the power of data in decision-making. She shows what happens when we fail to measure the experiences of different groups — especially women. With chapters on daily life, the workplace, design, health care, and politics, she challenges notions that arise from the pervasive data bias that surrounds us.

A. Randall Hughes
Associate Dean for Equity, College of Science; Associate Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson

These essays, by women drawing from their own experiences, highlight the need to work against climate change and environmental racism with social justice in mind. The book is clear about the magnitude and urgency of the task, but offers a vision of what our future can be if we take bold, inclusive steps now.

Antonio Ocampo-Guzman
Chair and Associate Professor of Theatre

Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches
Edited by Sharrell D. Luckett and Tia M. Shaffer

This collection of essays provides an exceptional vision for a more socially and racially just theater profession in both the academic and professional arenas. We need to reckon with the systemic oppression of students of color — who belong to a global majority — to ensure that every student has a transformational experience.

Aliza Lakhani
CEO & Dean, Northeastern University Toronto

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World
Peter H. Diamandis

In this book aimed at entrepreneurs, Diamandis describes six forces that drive the world today: digitalization, deception, disruption, demonetization, dematerialization, and democratization. He writes about how to leverage them, with technology, to benefit humankind.

Iris Berent
Professor of Psychology

What Kind of Creatures Are We?
Noam Chomsky

To predict our future, we ought to start by taking a hard look at our own human nature. Chomsky has profoundly influenced my thinking about who we are, and this is one of his most insightful writings on this topic yet. 

Raj Echambadi
Dunton Family Dean
D’Amore-McKim School of Business

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail 
Clayton M. Christensen

The SARS outbreak in 2002 accelerated the rise of e-commerce in Asia. The 2008 recession gave birth to the sharing economy.  I’m optimistic that COVID-19, an extraordinary disruption, will also lead to remarkable innovations. Christensen’s book suggests that the future will belong to savvy innovators who disrupt the status quo, using the virtual tools that have blended our physical and digital worlds. 

James Hackney
Dean and Professor of Law

Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World
Fareed Zakaria

Zakaria places the COVID-19 moment in the context of world history. The pandemic acts as an accelerant to our ability to adapt to change and recreate our world. As Zakaria artfully frames it, “We have many futures in front of us.” The choice is ours — and the question is what we will do, through ingenuity and investing, to benefit society.

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Illustration by Celia Jacobs


The Experience Playlist: Together

A Spotify playlist of songs to bring us together — from Prince, CeCe Peniston, Dua Lipa, The Replacements, and more

By Ceci Menchetti