Why are so many countries failing miserably in responding to the COVID-19 crisis? Why are deep inequities like poverty and famine persistent despite our best efforts? How is technology altering the relationship between states and their citizens, and is it for better or worse? These are just a few of the many questions we will be grappling with in this book club.

Progress Studies is an emergent discipline that aims to identify and study why some ecosystems generate progress better than others. An implied objective of progress studies is how we can engineer conditions hospitable to progress and to tweak existing systems to be better in favor of progress.

This book club aims to bring a progress studies orientation to James C. Scott's classic book: Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. In this club, we'll bring a modern socioeconomic and political context to the book and draw lessons regarding the ideas, innovations, and technology relevant to the 21st century.

This book club is a spin-off of a progress studies book club organized last year and inspired by Tyler Cowen and Patrick Collison's call for progress studies from the year before.


Our goal with this book club is two-pronged: to better understand Scott's work and to make friends in the process. Seeing Like a State is an incredibly prescient work given our world and its challenges today. What's more, we hope to use this book as a launchpad for thinking about progress and to create a space for people to gather, build a community, and engage in interesting conversations together.


The group will be meeting weekly, on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm PST (i.e., Wednesdays, 8:00 am IST). Each session will be 75 minutes long, hosted by Priyansha Bajoria and Wes De Silvestro. Our first session will start on February 2nd, 2021 and will continue weekly thereafter.

All sessions are independent of each other, so feel free to join in at any time. You'll be sent a Zoom link to join each session ahead of time.

If you're interested in joining us, register below for our mailing list and we'll notify you when our sessions start:

Seeing Like a State ~ Progress Studies Reading Group

<aside> ❗ Edit: We are no longer accepting responses to the above form. Send an email to [email protected] if you'd like to join us.



<aside> 📢 Below is a schedule of our planned topics. Check out the Guiding Questions under each week for things to think about as you're reading. We'll discuss related questions in our Zoom calls as well as draw upon our personal experiences/anecdotes.


I) Projects of Legibility and Simplification

February 2nd, 2021 @ 6:30 pm PST