Ideas

We focus on big ideas that are best explored through an interdisciplinary lens, draw on Stanford’s cutting-edge research, and illuminate the discoveries that are shaping the future. We welcome other curious minds to support and join us on these learning journeys.

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The Science of Decision Making

Exploring The Brain
Whether it’s pleasure or pain, hope or regret, memories of things past or planning for the future, the workings of the human brain underpin what we do and experience. Find out what we are learning from modern neuroscience about the structure and activities underlying decision making.

Understanding Behavior
Our decisions are influenced by beliefs and biases, mood and age, context and culture. Understand what we are learning about how these variables shape our decisions.

Examining Influence
Every day we try to influence the decisions of others, from families and colleagues to customers and leaders. Learn how we use persuasion, incentives and choice architecture to nudge people towards decisions we want them to make.

Improving Decision Making
We all want to make better decisions—on our own, and as members of teams or organizations. Explore approaches to better decision making that engage analytical reasoning, improved communication and team dynamics, and reliance on values.

Takeaways

Discover what researchers are learning about decision making from a variety of disciplines (e.g., economics, neuroscience, engineering, psychology, etc.) and what the future might hold.

Synthesize the different approaches to understanding decision making across disciplines and their implications for individuals, organizations and society.

Apply new principles, research, and skills to your professional and personal decision making, from choice architecture to crisis communication and decision analysis to design thinking.

Environmental Risk & Resilience

Explaining The Big Picture: Global Environmental Change
We are entering a new geologic age—the Anthropocene—in which human activity is reshaping the planet and its inhabitants. How will climate change drive environmental shifts in the years ahead? And how can we better understand environmental risks and resilience in order to plan and act effectively?

Understanding Sources of Environmental Risk
The Earth’s systems face critical challenges, especially where they intersect with human needs and development. What significant risks are we seeing across water, agriculture, ecosystems, infrastructure, human habitation, health, and energy?

Adopting Strategies for Resilience
The Anthropocene also offers enormous potential for innovation. How are we cultivating resilience through mitigation, adaptation, and improved preparation?

Takeaways

Discover how experts from multiple disciplines (e.g. earth sciences, biology, political science, public policy, law, business, engineering)—and practitioners in the field—are analyzing and addressing global environmental change, and the uncertainties that still remain.

Synthesize diverse perspectives on the sources of risk and resilience within and across earth systems. Examine the respective roles of business, governments and civil society.

Apply new knowledge, strategies, and tools to inform our awareness of global environmental change and boost resilience through further research, policies, and technologies.

Behind & Beyond Big Data

What is Driving Big Data?
We increasingly live our social, economic, and intellectual lives in the digital realm, enabled by new tools and technologies. These activities generate massive data sets, which in turn refine the tools. How will this co-evolution of technology and data reshape society, institutions, and relationships?

Creating New Value
Big data changes what can be known about the world, transforming science, industries, and culture. It reveals solutions to social problems and allows products and services to be even more targeted. Where will big data create the greatest sources of new value?

Shifting Power And Influence
As data becomes even more valuable, who will own and control access to it? Will big data create information oligarchs or reduce inequality by giving access to people at the margins? How will brokers of big data influence our purchases, behaviors, and beliefs?

Managing The Tradeoffs
The promise of big data is accompanied by perils—in terms of privacy, security, reputation, and social and economic disruption. How will we manage these tradeoffs individually and in business, government, and civil society?

Takeaways

Discover new insights from multiple disciplines (e.g., engineering, psychology, computer science, business, education, law, medicine) about the applications and impacts of big data in business, government, civil society and our individual lives.

Synthesize expert opinions from researchers and Silicon Valley innovators to understand big data's opportunities and challenges. Balance the tradeoffs between individual privacy and security and social value.

Apply strategies for leveraging the potential of big data while managing potential vulnerabilities, both personally and organizationally.

The Future of Food

Exploring Food System Uncertainties
By 2030, the word’s population will grow from 7 to 8.3 billion. Providing secure, safe, and nutritious food for everyone while sustaining a healthy planet will be a vital and daunting challenge. The future of the global food system is dynamic and uncertain, driven by multiple social, technological, environmental, economic and political (STEEP) forces:

Social: The impacts of demographics (e.g., population size, aging, organization), evolving cultures and preferences, and human behavior affect the global food system?
Technological: The role of emerging technologies and innovations in food production—from data-driven farming to aquaculture to articial meat
Environmental: The implications and interplay of climate change, declining biodiversity, and human adaptations to environmental change
Economic and Political: The impacts of market forces and political choices on trade, food sources and pricing, supply chain and risk management, resource use and regulation

Takeaways

Discover how the global food system may be affected by uncertainties arising from the evolution of climate change, population growth, consumption patterns and agricultural practices, markets, and policies.

Synthesize research and expert opinions on the future of food by going through a step-by-step scenario planning process, guided by experienced facilitators.

Apply scenario planning tools and techniques to the future of food. Understand how to use scenarios to address a range of strategic issues and decisions that will play out well into the future.

A unique way to connect to a broad range of remarkable people, among the participants, speakers, and Stanford researchers, and enter into deep, meaningful conversations about things that matter.

Christian Crews, Independent Consultant