In unprecedented times, how can we keep learning together?
Columbia University Professor and SDSN President Jeffrey Sachs has answered this challenge with a new project: “A book club, where we have the chance to talk to world leading authors who are writing fantastic, scintillating, inspiring, incredibly informative, works about us, about human nature, about social justice, about the inequities that we’ve inherited from the past that we have to overcome in the future.”
The Book Club with Jeffrey Sachs officially launched on January 20th, 2021, as a global forum on the most relevant topics for humanity. Each month, members are invited to join Prof. Sachs as he hosts a live conversation with the author of a thought-provoking, recently-published book. Members can continue the discussion in the Book Club’s online platform, hosted by the SDG Academy on edX. (A podcast based on the author conversations is also forthcoming.)
On January 28th, Jeffrey Sachs sat down with Martin J. Sherwin for the first live conversation of the Book Club. Sherwin, a professor at George Mason University and a leading historian on the Cold War, is the author of Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Along with curious readers from around the world, Professors Sachs and Sherwin dove into Sherwin’s book to look at historical misconceptions and mis-dealings in the early years of the Atomic Era, remarking on just how close the world came to nuclear war and the circumstances that prevented it. The history of the Cuban Missile Crisis provided a platform for a larger discussion about the role of nuclear weapon’s in today’s world.
By unpacking the historical context, Sherwin and Sachs sought to answer questions like:
“How do we replace the imagined security that nuclear weapons provide nuclear States with a security that will serve the same purpose without providing the horrendous danger of destroying civilization?
And, “How can we join together to avoid a nuclear arms race that can destroy the world?”
Prof. Sherwin emphasized that understanding the lessons in front of us makes us “morally responsible for any destruction of civilization that may occur in the future. We have to live up to that moral responsibility.” We have to join together to tackle this challenge.
Featuring authors like Martin Sherwin, Richard Rothstein, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and more, the Book Club with Jeffrey Sachs creates a space to learn and discuss the most important topics of our time with people from around the world. We live in a tumultuous era filled with changes, but throughout history, book clubs have offered an opportunity to learn together.
On why he chose these specific works for his global Book Club, Prof. Sachs emphasized that they are “stories for the whole world because they’re stories about justice. They’re stories about rationality and irrationality. They’re stories about cruelty and heroism. They’re stories that tell us about our past so that we have a better way forward, a way forward for the future we want.”
There is no better time than now to be a part of these discussions. Want to get involved? Go to bookclubwithjeffreysachs.org to learn more.