Selbey Labs - Books of the Month (October 2023)

Selbey Labs - Books of the Month (October 2023)

Selbey LabsForesight & Innovation
Selbey Labs - Books of the Month (October 2023)

Hi there and welcome to the latest Books of the Month recommendations that we’ve put together for Selbey Anderson, the UK’s fastest-growing independent marketing group. This month’s list features titles covering a wide range of subjects – including diplomacy, academia, SDG’s, environmentalism, speculation, philosophy, culture, space, and ethics. We hope you enjoy the list, and your feedback is always welcome!

‘And Then What?’ by Catherine Ashton

So much of modern-day diplomacy still takes place behind closed doors, away from cameras and prying eyes. So what does this vital role really look like in today's world –and what does it take to do it well? Cathy Ashton was the EU's first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, effectively Europe's foreign policy supremo responsible for coordinating the EU's response to international crises. Arriving in Brussels as a relative novice to international diplomacy, she faced the challenge of representing the views and values of 28 nations during one of the most turbulent times in living memory. Decades-old certainties were swept away in days. Hope rose and fell, often in a matter of hours. She encountered dictators and war criminals, and witnessed the aftermath of natural disasters, military action, and political instability. Working with US politicians and counterparts including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Burns, she negotiated historic settlements, such as the Iran nuclear deal. An 'honest broker', she navigated the needs of opposing politicians to chart a path towards collaboration and stability. Now Ashton takes us behind the scenes to show us what worked and what didn't, and how it felt to be in 'the room where it happened'. From Serbia to Somalia, Libya to Haiti, she offers essential insight into how modern diplomacy works, examining the tools needed to find our way through the many challenges we face today.

‘The Liberating Arts’ by Jeffrey Bilbro

A new generation of teachers envisions a liberal arts education that is good for everyone. But why would anyone study the liberal arts? It’s no secret that they’ve have fallen out of favour and are struggling to prove their relevance when the cost of college pushes students to majors and degrees with more obvious career outcomes. A new cohort of educators isn’t taking this lying down. They realize they need to reimagine and rearticulate what a liberal arts education is for, and what it might look like in today’s world. In this book, they make an honest reckoning with the history and current state of the liberal arts. You may have heard – or asked – some of these questions yourself: Aren’t the liberal arts a waste of time…racist…liberal…elitist…a bad career investment? In this book, educators mount a vigorous defence of the humanist tradition, but also chart a path forward, building on their tradition’s strengths and addressing its failures. In each chapter, dispatches from innovators describe concrete ways this is being put into practice, showing that the liberal arts are not only viable today, but vital to our future.

‘Free and Equal’ by Daniel Chandler

Imagine: you are designing a society, but you don't know who you'll be within it - rich or poor, man or woman, gay or straight. What would you want that society to look like? This is the revolutionary thought experiment proposed by the twentieth century's greatest political philosopher, John Rawls. As economist and philosopher Daniel Chandler argues in this hugely ambitious and exhilarating intervention, it is by rediscovering Rawls that we can find a way out of the escalating crises that are devastating our world today. Taking Rawls's humane and egalitarian liberalism as his starting point, Chandler builds a careful and ultimately irresistible case for a progressive agenda that would fundamentally reshape our societies for the better. He shows how we can protect free speech and transcend the culture wars; get money out of politics; and create an economy where everyone has the chance to fulfil their potential, where prosperity is widely shared, and which operates within the limits of our finite planet. This is a book brimming with hope and possibility - a galvanising alternative to the cynicism that pervades our politics. Free and Equal has the potential not only to transform contemporary debate, but to offer a touchstone for a modern, egalitarian liberalism for many years to come, cementing Rawls's place in political discourse, and firmly establishing Chandler as a vital new voice for our time.

‘Best Things First’ by Bjorn Lomborg

In this urgent, thought-provoking book, Bjorn Lomborg presents the 12 most efficient solutions for the world's poorest and our global SDG promises. World leaders have promised everything to everyone. But they are failing. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are supposed to be delivered by 2030. The goals literally promise everything, like eradicating poverty, hunger and disease; stopping war and climate change, ending corruption, fixing education along with countless other promises. This year, the world is at halftime for its promises, but nowhere near halfway. Together with more than a hundred of the world’s top economists, Bjorn Lomborg has worked for years to identify the world’s best solutions. Based on new, peer-reviewed papers, c/o Cambridge University Press, this book highlights the world’s best policies.

‘The Future we choose’ by Christina Eig

Discover why there's hope for the planet and how we can each make a difference in the climate crisis, starting today. Humanity is not doomed, and we can and will survive. The future is ours to create: it will be shaped by who we choose to be in the coming years. The coming decade is a turning point - it is time to turn from indifference or despair and towards a stubborn, determined optimism. The Future We Choose is a passionate call to arms from former UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, and Tom Rivett-Carnac, senior political strategist for the Paris Agreement. Practical, optimistic and empowering, the book shows us steps we can all take to renew our planet and create a better world beyond the climate crisis: today, tomorrow, this year and in the coming decade. The time to act is now. This book will change the way you see the world, and your place in it. 

‘The Identity Trap’ by Yascha Mounk

A leading public intellectual traces the origin of a set of ideas about identity and social justice. For much of history, societies have violently oppressed ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. It is no surprise that many who passionately believe in social justice came to believe that members of marginalized groups need to take pride in their identity to resist injustice. But over the past decades, a healthy appreciation for the culture and heritage of minority groups has transformed into a counterproductive obsession with group identity in all its forms. A new ideology aiming to place each person's matrix of identities at the center of social, cultural, and political life has quickly become highly influential. It stifles discourse, vilifies mutual influence as cultural appropriation, denies that members of different groups can truly understand one another, and insists that the way governments treat their citizens should depend on the colour of their skin. This, Yascha Mounk argues, is the identity trap…

‘The Future of Geography’ by Tim Marshall

We’re entering a new space race – and it could revolutionise life on Earth. Space is already central to communication, economics, military strategy and international relations on Earth. Now, it is the latest arena for human exploration, exploitation – and, possibly, conquest. We’re heading up and out, and we’re taking our power struggles with us. China, the USA and Russia are leading the way. From physical territory and resources to satellites, weaponry and strategic choke points, geopolitics is as important in the skies above us as it is down below. If you’ve ever wondered if humans are going back to the Moon, who will benefit from exploration or what space wars might look like, the answers are here. With all the insight and wit that have made Tim Marshall the UK’s most popular writer on geopolitics, this gripping book shows how we got here and where we’re going, covering great-power rivalry; technology; commerce; combat in space; and what it means for all of us down here on Earth. This is essential reading on power, politics and the future of humanity.

‘The Culture Map’ by Erin Meyer

Whether you work in a home office or abroad, business success in our ever more globalized and virtual world requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences and decode cultures foreign to your own. When you have Americans who precede anything negative with three nice comments; French, Dutch, and Germans who get straight to the point ("your presentation was simply awful"); Latin Americans and Asians who are steeped in hierarchy; Scandinavians who think the best boss is just one of the crowd--the result can be, well, sometimes interesting, even funny, but often disastrous. Even with English as a global language, it's easy to fall into cultural traps that endanger careers and sink deals when, say, a Brazilian manager tries to fathom how his Chinese suppliers really get things done, or an American team leader tries to get a handle on the intra-team dynamics between his Russian and Indian team members. In The Culture Map, Erin Meyer provides a field-tested model for decoding how cultural differences impact international business. She combines a smart analytical framework with practical, actionable advice for succeeding in a global world.

‘The Ministry for the Future’ by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us. According to The Guardian, “Kim Stanley Robinson, who wrote the classic Red Mars trilogy of novels about geoengineering the red planet to be habitable by humans, now offers a story about whether we can geoengineer Earth back into Earth. Within these pages there is much hard science, of atmospheric and oceanic physics, usually helpfully explained by a passing expert; but also speculative military strategy – the invention of “pebble mob” missiles, which converge on a target speedily from all directions, renders almost all military hardware redundant – plenty of economic history and much comforting detail about the grey civility of Switzerland in winter”. After this book was published it was chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favourite books of the year - an extraordinary novel from a visionary writer that will change the way you think about the climate crisis.

‘Higher Ground’ by Alison Taylor

This book isn’t yet released, but having interviewed the author, it’s good to get a recommendation in first for a fresh, realistic guide to help companies navigate the new ethical challenges and risks in a volatile global landscape. Today's headlines are full of employee unrest over racial injustice, communities infuriated by corporate environmental impacts, staff anxiety over surveillance, and discoveries of child labour in supply chains. We’ve travelled far and fast from the old world of business ethics, where black-and-white concerns about bribery and fraud could be addressed with rules and processes. Simply maximizing shareholder value while not breaking the law is no longer an option, but we've never been so confused about what it means to do the right thing. In this eye-opening, indispensable book, NYU ethics professor Alison Taylor argues that amid stakeholder demands and transparency pressures, we can no longer treat ethics as a legal and reputational defence mechanism. Leaders at Davos and the Business Roundtable have called for a new corporate responsibility paradigm, but how to implement their ideas remains an open question as organizations struggle in an atmosphere of heightened expectations and intense suspicion. Offering vivid stories and examples, Taylor brings this complex, risky environment alive to provide a blueprint for how leaders should rethink and reshape their practices.

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Foresight & Innovation

Selbey Labs, part of the Selbey Anderson Group, is a foresight and innovation practice focused on helping brands see and respond to opportunities and threats.

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