What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: Who are you?

Michael Sandel: I grew up outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, so I’m a child of the Midwest. And I grew up rooting for the Minnesota Twins baseball team. And I went to school in Minnesota until my family moved to Los Angeles when I was 13. And then I went to public school in Los Angeles … actually Palisades High School was my high school … just overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And then I went to college at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. And for graduate school, I went off to Oxford in England.

Well I’ve been interested, I guess, throughout my life in politics and the shape of American public life and civic life. And I can’t be sure that this is the source of it, but Minnesota always had a strong civic tradition and emphasis on civic life going back to the Democratic Farm Labor party, which had its origins in the Midwest. And it was still strong in Minnesota and the surrounding region when I was growing up. There was also … neighborhoods and community played a big part in life growing up in Minnesota. So I suppose there may have been some influences. Not that kind, but … .

I think I began really to think about these questions more fully and more clearly when I went abroad. I went to England to study after my undergraduate years. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought maybe a lawyer. Maybe a political journalist … that appealed to me a lot. And maybe I thought I would run for office and try to be a politician. And academia was in fourth place in my ideas when I graduated from college. And then I had an opportunity to go off to England to study full time, and really to read more, and study more without having to choose a particular path. And seeing America from a distance for the first time living in England – I wound up spending four years studying there – enabled me to see things about American politics that I had not been aware of living within the United States. And in particular what struck me was the way in which American liberalism had turned procedural, and had really become empty of the kind of moral and spiritual energy that I came to think any Democratic politics requires … any progressive politics require. And then I began to try and understand why that had happened historically, and also philosophically.

Recorded on: 6/12/07

 

 

 

 

Who are you?

Newsletter: Share: