Michael Luca

Assistant Professor, HBS
Office Address


Perhaps the most important practical development in the social sciences in the last 50 years has been the development of idea of creating an architecture for changing the environment to lead humans to better decisions through "nudges" (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008). The fields of behavioral economics and psychology have become integrated into governments through this work. Established in 2010 and directed by David Halpern, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was set up in the heart of the British Government to apply behavioral economics and psychology to policymaking. BIT works with a variety of partners both in government and in industry to implement nudges. They have led interventions in a variety of domains, including tax collection, charitable giving, education, and employment. In this course, students will obtain a basic understanding on behavioral decision research and behavioral economics; muster what we know about decision architecture - or "nudging"; and apply these ideas to a group project with their client from local or national government in the United Kingdom. This course will be of particular interest to students with an interest in obtaining a basic understanding on behavioral decision research and behavioral economics, and mastering knowledge of decision architecture, or "nudging." All students will work on actual projects connected to the UK Government.  There is a mandatory fee for this course of $2,500. To apply, please carefully review the course description and fill out the application link on this page: https://cpl.hks.harvard.edu/field-courses-2017-2018.  Applications are due by August 23, 2017.

Also offered by the Business School as 6022. Course meets for six two-hour sessions in the fall (9/11, 4:15-6:15 PM; 9/25, 4:15-6:15 PM; 10/30, 4:15-7:00 PM; 11/6, 4:15-7:00 PM; 12/4, 4:15-7:00 PM; 2/6, 4:15-5:45 PM, and an additional optional on-campus lecture on 11/20, 4:15-7:00 PM), followed by ten days of travel to the UK from January 6-17. Attendance at all meetings is required. There is a mandatory fee for this course $2,500 - this fee will cover double-occupancy accommodations in-country with daily hotel breakfast, ground transportation, local transportation for field work, daily internet access at hotels, meeting space in-country, an iPhone with calling, text, and data, all taxes and gratuities for included activities, and emergency medical, evacuation, and repatriation insurance through HTA). Please note that students will also be required to purchase their own international airfare to and from the destination, entry and transit visa expenses, immunizations, and personal expenses. Enrolled students may make an appointment with HKS Financial Aid with confirmation of their course registration and a plane ticket receipt to discuss increasing their loan amount in accordance with their costs. This course is open by permission of the instructor. Previous coursework or experience in behavioral economics is not required. Please note, this is one half of a yearlong course. Students enrolled in the fall section will automatically be enrolled in the spring section.