Amanda Ripley

TAGS: College and Universities, Education, World Affairs

Amanda Ripley

"Amanda's presentation was a roaring success!! She was well received by our people- they were captivated."
-Ernst & Young

Amanda Ripley is an investigative journalist who writes about human behavior and public policy for TIME Magazine and the Atlantic Monthly. Her 2008 book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes--and Why, was published in 15 countries and described by NPR as “The thinking person’s manual for getting out alive.” Amanda's new book, a New York Times bestseller, The Smartest Kids in the World--And How They Got That Way, documents her global quest to find out how other countries raise smarter kids--and what the U.S. can learn from the world's new education superpowers.

To discuss her work, Amanda has appeared on ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News and NPR and given talks at the Pentagon, the U.S. Senate, the State Department, major universities and Fortune 500 companies. She currently lives in Washington, DC, where she is an Emerson Senior Fellow at the Emerson Collective.



  • A Global Quest to Save America's Schools

    How did other countries manage to make their public schools fairer and smarter than ours while spending dramatically less than we do?

    To find out, Amanda spent a year following three American high school students temporarily embedded in schools in Finland, Poland and South Korea. Through the students' stories and new research into education outcomes worldwide, Amanda helps unravel a mystery at the center of our global competitiveness. Her reporting led to the New York Times bestseller, The Smartest Kids in the World. In the end, Amanda returned home more optimistic than when she'd left--convinced that the U.S. can outperform the rest of the world, if we can sustain the political and public will.

  • Survival Skills for the Knowledge Economy

    In an automated, global economy, going to college and collecting a degree are no longer enough. To thrive, young people must learn to think, to solve problems they've never seen before--and to adapt, since they will be doing it all their lives.

    New research reveals surprising variance in how well countries are managing to cultivate these skills. Through the story of an American family business and a young, ambitious woman, both of whom leave Oklahoma in search of better opportunity abroad, Amanda uncovers the insidious ways that our own institutions undervalue these skills--and how we could do much better.

  • Disaster Mythology – What Really Happens at the Worst of Times

    Amanda Ripley draws on years of disaster reporting to explain the three phases most people go through in life-or-death experiences—and how we can learn to do better. She tells detailed stories of specific survivors from recent news-making calamities and combines their wisdom with the latest science into how the brain functions under extreme stress.

    This presentation features case studies from the evacuation of the World Trade Center on 9/11, the 2004 tsunami and the 2009 crash of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.

  • Click here to view Amanda's talk at PopTech
    The Smartest Kids in the World

    What is it like to be a child in the world's new education superpowers? To find out, author and Time Magazine writer Amanda Ripley spent one year following American teenagers living in Finland, South Korea and Poland. Their stories, along with groundbreaking new research into learning around the world, reveal a pattern of startling transformation. These countries got smarter fairly recently--and not by spending more money or creating more tests. “If you care about education, you must read this book.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin ... MORE →

    The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why

    What happens to us--physically, emotionally and even socially--in the worst of times? How can we learn to do better? In this inspiring mix of narrative, science and participatory journalism, award-winning Time Magazine writer Amanda Ripley reveals how human fear circuits and crowd dynamics work, why our instincts sometimes misfire in modern calamities and how we can prepare for inevitable calamities more intelligently. The Unthinkable was published in 15 countries and turned into a PBS documentary. “The thinking person’s manual for getting out alive.” —NPR ... MORE →


  • Follow Amanda's Blog
  • VIDEO: The Smartest Kids in the World (trailer)
  • Time: "College Is Dead. Long Live College!"
  • Time: "Your Brain in a Shootout"
  • The Atlantic Monthly: "Why Kids Should Grade Teachers"
  • The Atlantic Monthly: "School Rankings: America vs. the World"
  • VIDEO: The Unthinkable
  • @amandaripley: Follow Amanda on Twitter