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Katy Milkman

Katy Milkman will present the Seventh Annual Paul Volcker Lecture in Behavioral Economics on Thursday, March 10, 2022 at 4:00pm in the Dr. Paul & Natalie Strasser Legacy Room, 220 Eggers Hall.  

Katy Milkman co-founded and co-directs the University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative, alongside her Wharton colleague Angela Duckworth. As we emerge from lockdown into our post-pandemic lives, Milkman is equipped to help us make the most of this figurative “blank slate”: not only teaching us how to create change, but make it stick.

Decades of research have taught Milkman—host of Charles Schwab’s popular behavioral economics podcast Choiceology—that the key is to understand what’s standing between you and success, and tailor your solution to that roadblock. Too often, people reach for one-size-fits all solutions that sound appealing but lack a basis in evidence. Milkman’s cutting-edge research illustrates how to identify and overcome the barriers that regularly stand in the way of change. Her discoveries help explain why timing can be everything when it comes to making a change, how to turn temptation and inertia into assets that can help you conquer your goals, and why giving advice, even if it’s about something you’re struggling with, can help you achieve more, too.

Bestselling author Charles Duhigg called Milkman’s book How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be “a must read for anyone looking to improve their habits or their life”; Charles Schwab declared it “an invaluable guide to success”; and Laszlo Bock, CEO of Humu and former Google SVP of People Operations, says, “If your goal is to get better, or to make your teams or business better, read this book.

Milkman’s research is transforming our understanding of behavior change. She’s the former president of the International Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and one of Wharton’s most sought-after teachers. Milkman has also worked with or advised dozens of organizations on how to spur positive change, including Google, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Red Cross, 24 Hour Fitness, Walmart, Morningstar, and the White House. Her research and insights are frequently covered by major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and NPR.

About the Volcker Lecture & Symposium 

The Volcker Chair was endowed by Robert Menschel, former senior director at Goldman Sachs Group and trustee emeritus of Syracuse University.“ The critically important field of behavioral economics, although relatively new, has quickly become central to policy makers and corporate leaders in their decision making,” observes Menschel, the author of Markets, Mobs, and Mayhem:  A Modern Look at the Madness of Crowds.“ Paul Volcker is the nation’s preeminent economist who epitomizes the very best thinking in this area.” Volcker’s distinguished career includes eight years as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Carter and Reagan; four years as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and two years as chair of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. In addition, he served as Undersecretary of Treasury for international monetary affairs and was chairman of the prominent New York investment banking firm, J. Rothschild, Wolfensohn & Co. Volcker also chaired the National Commission on the Public Service, which focused on the changes needed to restore vitality and credibility to public service. 

The Maxwell School gratefully acknowledges Mr. Menschel's generous support. Funding for policy-relevant research and professional training for future public officials are key components to advancing effective governance at the national, state and local levels.

Leonard Lopoo, the Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics, hosts the Paul Volcker Lecture and Symposium. Lopoo, in collaboration with colleagues in Maxwell's Center for Policy Research, where he is director and senior research associate, organizes an annual conference or lecture on a public policy topic drawing on the insights and perspectives of behavioral economics. In addition, graduate students, in public administration and economics, organize a companion research symposium featuring scholars working at the cutting edge of research in behavioral economics and public policy. 

For more information on the Paul Volcker Lecture, contact Katrina Fiacchi at:

View Past Volcker Lectures