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Rutger Bregman: Humankind, A Hopeful History

Historian Rutger Bregman stands against a dark background

If there is one belief that has united the left and the right, psychologists and philosophers, ancient thinkers and modern ones, it is the tacit assumption that humans are bad. It's a notion that drives newspaper headlines and guides the laws that shape our lives. Human beings, we're taught, are by nature selfish and governed primarily by self-interest. But what if it isn't true?

International bestseller Rutger Bregman joins UNSW Centre for Ideas Director, Ann Mossop in the first of a three-part series of conversations to provide a new perspective on the past 200,000 years of human history, setting out to prove that we are hardwired for kindness, geared toward cooperation rather than competition, and more inclined to trust rather than distrust one another.

Civilisation has become synonymous with peace and progress and wilderness with war and decline. In reality, for most of human existence, it was the other way around.

Rutger Bregman

International bestseller Rutger Bregman is joined by Dr Katharine Kemp in the second of a three-part series of conversations. Dr Katharine Kemp is a Senior Lecturer at UNSW Law, and an expert in data privacy and misuse of market power laws. Her research focuses on the ways personal data is collected and used to the detriment of consumers. She is the Academic Lead on the Grand Challenge on Trust.

Rutger Bregman is joined by Professor Ben Newell in the final instalment of a three-part series of conversations. Ben Newell is a Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Deputy Head of the School of Psychology at UNSW. His research focusses on the cognitive processes underlying judgment, choice and decision making, and the application of this knowledge to environmental, medical, financial, and forensic contexts. He is the Academic Lead on the Grand Challenge on Thriving in the Anthropocene.


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Photo credit: The Economist

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