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Jennifer Jacquet

Shame can be harnessed to promote large scale political and social change.

Author of Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool

Contact Jennifer For Booking
Jennifer Jacquet | Author of Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

How can shame lead to social change? Jennifer Jacquet is the author of Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool, which explores the social nature of shame—how it can be used to promote large-scale political change and social reform. We saw how consumer outcry led to the dolphin-safe logo and changed the tuna industry. In her talks, Jacquet reveals what else shame is capable of, and the psychology behind it all. 

Jennifer Jacquet is an Assistant Professor at NYU’s Department of Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on the social science of cooperation dilemmas, with specific interests in overfishing and climate change. Her “wonderful, important, and timely” (Brian Eno, Long Now Foundation) book, Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool, is “an intellectually stimulating discussion of shame and its enduring place in the digital age” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). She is also the author of more than 20 scientific publications in places like Biology Letters and Nature Climate Change. Her research has been covered by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Morgan Freeman’s television series Through the Wormhole, Nature News, The New York Times, The Independent, Discover, NewScientist, and The Washington Post.


In February 2016, Jacquet received a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation to examine the feasibility of altering fisheries policies on the high seas. The $150,000 award, given by The Pew Charitable Trusts, will support Jacquet’s three-year project to develop policies to address overfishing.  

Speech Topics

Social Change
Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool
In cultures that champion the individual, guilt is advertised as the cornerstone of conscience. But while guilt holds individuals to personal standards, it is powerless in the face of corrupt institutions. In recent years, we as consumers have sought to assuage our guilt about flawed social and environmental practices and policies by, for example, buying organic foods or fair-trade products. Unless nearly everyone participates, however, the impact of individual consumer consciousness is ineffective. In this talk, Jennifer Jacquet presents us with a case for public shaming as a nonviolent form of resistance that can challenge corporations and even governments to change policies and behaviors. She argues that shaming can help compensate for the limitations of guilt in a globalized world—when it has been retrofitted for the age of social media and aimed in the proper direction. Jacquet leaves us with a new understanding of how public shame, when applied in the right way and at the right time, has the capacity to keep us from failing our planet and, ultimately, from failing ourselves.