Doing good, one network at a time

Nicholas Christakis

How we are connected affects the properties of an entire society, generally for good.  This aspect of network science is what got us excited about the field in the first place.  Working in areas such as collaboration, innovation, and health, it was clear that interaction typically fosters our well-being and productivity.  But what about doing good, in addition to doing well?  That our place within social networks affects our generosity is a powerful idea and one that we wanted to study with a mathematical and computational microscope.  And it has all the markings of a fascinating area:  challenging questions, the potential for rich data, and the possibility of improving our society.  Moreover, the topic lends itself to interdisciplinary study with the potential to influence, and possibly even help, many different fields.  Maybe it’s the case that studying generosity could prove to be a generous thing to do.

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