Check out these must-reads for incoming students, as suggested by our professors

Open book with shelf of books in the background

Get inspired for your studies by these autobiographies, works of non-fiction, online magazine articles, podcasts and more!

The start of the new academic year is right around the corner. As we welcome new students in our classrooms, we asked three professors for some light reading recommendations for incoming and prospective students – to inspire you and get you thinking about the type of things you’ll soon learn about at the Hertie School! Here’s what they told us:


Prof. Joanna Bryson, PhD

Professor of Ethics and Technology

What readings would you recommend to our incoming students?

I would recommend my two most recent pieces in Wired. The March publication is most relevant to Governance and politics of artificial intelligence | E1319, and the June article is more relevant to Individual and collective intelligence: Insights from biology and technology | E1343. Both of these courses will be offered in the Spring 2024 semester.

Find more articles here:

What are you currently reading and why?

I am presently reading Sceptical Essays on Human Rights, edited by Tom Cambell, K. D. Ewing, and Adam Tomkins, because I am interested in the interaction between human rights framings and republican framings of the relationship between humans and their governments. I think the most useful framing is that we constitute our governments, and I believe that human rights framings are compatible with this, but I want to check what other scholars have argued. This is important because I'm working on a book making recommendations about how digital and other technology alter how ideal governance will operate.


Prof. Dr. Anita Gohdes

Professor of International and Cyber Security

What readings would you recommend to our incoming students?

I’d recommend:

  • Free by Lea Ypi – a very entertaining autobiography by LSE Professor Lea Ypi about growing up in Albania during the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • The podcast The Lazarus Heist by the BBC World Service – it’s all about North Korean cybercrime, really fascinating and well done.
  • Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe – about the conflict in Northern Ireland, extremely well written. 

What are you currently reading and why?

I just finished reading Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (trigger warning for violence!). I read Stuart’s Booker Prize-winning first book Shuggie Bain and was blown away by it. This one is also very good, but very disturbing too. I also just read Either/Or by Elif Batuman which was really impressive.


Prof. Dr. Kai Wegrich

Dean of Faculty and Research, Professor of Public Administration and Public Policy

What readings would you recommend to our incoming students?

  • Thinking like an Economist by Elizabeth Popp Berman. It was published earlier this year and it is making waves in the US (with reviews and debates in the NYT etc.). The book is a piece of historical sociology, exploring how the rise of economic thinking has constrained progress policy in the US. Economic thinking, Popp Berman argues, had a particularly strong impact on how Democrats consider policy. The book traces how economic thinking was established in the 1960s – and this can be read as a history of policy schools as well – and how it impacted policymaking in the 70s and 80s in a range of policy areas (social, environmental, antitrust). Anyone studying public policy should read this book and reflect on the style of thinking.
  • Rule makers, rule breakers by Michele Gelfand, a social psychologist. This popular book distills her research into a crisp argument: societies and organisations are shaped by opposing informal norms – the culture of tight or loose rule-following. The book opens with an example of jaywalking in Berlin (as an exhibit of tight rule-following). In particular for international students, arriving in Berlin means that you are in the middle of a rule­-following culture that may be different from what you know. Maybe Gelfand’s book can help you to make sense of that.

    By the way, she argues that a good balance between tight and loose rule-following is most beneficial. If you want to share your impressions about rule-following in Berlin, let me know – I’m planning a project on the topic using interviews from international students and staff as the main “data”.
  • Nasty, Brutish, and Short by Scott Hershovitz is about “Adventures in Philosophy with Kids”, but it is highly recommended even if you do not (yet) have kids. Scott uses interactions with his kids as a starting point to review a range of classic philosophical issues in a light and fun way. This is a gem.

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