chevron icon Twitter logo Facebook logo LinkedIn logo YouTube logo download icon link icon audio icon quote icon posted icon clock icon author icon arrow icon arrow icon plus icon Search icon location icon location icon document icon menu icon plus-alt

In these challenging times we thought we’d publish a lighter blog post about the kinds of things the GO Lab have been reading and listening in the last week. We’d love to hear what you think of this list and whether you have any recommendations for this sector. And you can scroll a little more to see what else we have been doing to keep ourselves occupied. Email us on or send us a tweet @ukgolab 

1.    Alnoor Ebrahim’s Measuring Social Change- How can leaders track performance towards worthy goals such as reducing poverty, improving public health, or advancing human rights? This book looks at what to measure, what kinds of performance  systems to build, and how to align multiple demands of accountability.

2.    Elements in Public Policy– This series from Cambridge University is a major publishing initiative that shares new research on public policy. It covers major topics in the field and integrates different disciplines. Some of the papers are open access.

3.    The Value of Everything by Mariana Mazzucato (available as an audiobook) – Who really creates wealth in our world? And how do we decide the value of what they do? In modern capitalism, value extraction is rewarded more highly than value creation. Mazzucato argues that we need to rethink this, and in her book she ‘reignites a long-needed debate about the kind of world we really want to live in.’ 

4.    Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed– This book argues that individual intelligence is no longer enough to tackle problems, from the way we educate our children, to obesity, climate change and terrorism. We need to harness the power of our ‘cognitive diversity’. It draws on psychology, economics, anthropology and genetics. 

5.    Radical Help by Hillary Cottam– This is about new ways of organising living and growing that have been developed with communities across Britain. It shows how we can make change and how we can transition towards a new system that can take care of everyone. 

6.    Tools for decision making by David N Ammons– This book covers a wide range of local government practices, each chapter opens with a problem in a hypothetical city and then introduces a tool to address it. Considered an invaluable resource and reference for practitioners. 

7.    Policymaking is not a science (yet), Episode 405, Freakonomics podcast. This episode explores the challenges around implementing and scaling evidence-based social interventions, such as Treatment Foster Care in Oregon.  

8. Good economics for hard times: better answers to our biggest problems, by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. From the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, this book explains how economics, when done right, can help us solve the thorniest social and political problems of our day, from immigration to inequality. We have the resources to address the challenges we face but we are often blinded by ideology.

A few extras 

Here’s a few extra things that the GO Lab are reading, watching, listening to in our spare time. We'd love to know if you have any more for our list too.

1.    Quarantine soirees: classical music and opera to stream at home– With concert halls and opera houses closed, organisations and musicians across the world are live streaming concerts from their homes, or from empty concert halls, and opening up digital archives so that everyone can still access their music. shows.  

2.    The Overstory by Richard Powers– This book is described as a ‘tangled epic about diverse lives in rooted environmental principles’. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning fiction book about trees and a good distraction. 

3.    Weekly mindfulness sessions & podcasts– The Oxford Mindfulness Centre are offering free sessions that are open to the general public. The first session is on 25th March, 7-8pm and is entitled ‘Finding steadiness in uncertain times.’ 

4.    Online yoga classes – All yoga studios, gyms and community centres have closed and so lots of many of them are emerging online. A great way to help your physical and mental health whilst at home, and there are many sessions for kids too to help keep them entertained at home. Search for a studio in your local area, such as Every Body Studio in Oxford. 

5.    Podcasts – We are big podcast listeners at the GO Lab. Here are a few that we like to listen to in our spare time – SerialThis American LifeRadioLabCriminalDolly Parton’s America.