Wednesday, January 28, 2015

BLUEMiND: Your Brain On Ocean.



BLUEMiND: A look at the Ocean through the field of Neuroscience

At The California Academy of Sciences

Thursday, June 1-2, 2011


Why do books and symposia about the human brain, the most complex object in the universe, contain no mention of the ocean, the single greatest feature of our planet? Why do books and conferences on protecting and restoring the world’s oceans entirely overlook the field of cognitive neuroscience?

BLUEMiND will forever link studies of the mind and ocean in a two-day event held at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California, kicking off World Oceans Week 2011. BLUEMiNDincludes a roundtable/reception on June 1st, a full day summit and a NightLife ocean party inside the academy with upwards of 4,000 people in attendance. This is the first of it’s kind, and is meant to help frame what we believe is an emerging field that unites neuroscience and ocean stewardship.

Day one and two will explore the relationship between the Ocean and the brain, and will bring leading neuroscientists, communicators, and citizens together to engage in this dialog. The outcomes will be publicly shared documentation of the summit to a global audience.

The summit is both a scientific exploration, as well as a celebration of the emergence of neuroscience as a tool as it relates to the ocean biosphere.

Executive Overview:

BLUEMiND is designed to be a resource for deeper understanding of the connection between the brain and the ocean. The learnings and interconnections identified and defined throughout the summit will support what we frame as NeuroConservation. Current critical thinking, field based cognitive neuroscience and interest from people outside of the academy are pointing to a fulcrum point: that without deeper understanding of our brains, we will never be able to “think our way out” of our current biospheric emergency.

Climate change is confirmed as a real threat to our planet. Rapid extinction of ocean ecosystems by a myriad of factors and petroleum dependencies are widely verified. There is increasing demand that the public changes behavior. Yet, in the face of these global crises there is such small, incremental change.BLUEMIND aims to help us understand this disconnect and guide us on how to advance the healing of our world.

It is increasingly clear that current approaches to behavioral change are outmoded. They are based on 1970’s informed tactics of fear and data. We have spent the past thirty years inundating human beings with terrifying data about the problems of the planet, and have used scare tactics to force behavior shifts. There are intrinsic flaws in this approach, evidenced by the lack of results. We are facing multifaceted problems that cannot be addressed through the linear, build-in binary thinking of “this is bad, so we are being bad”—“don’t do this, if you do you are failing.” Additionally dangerous is the promotion of the idea of the “other”—the proposal that problems we find on the planet are the fault of another—corporations, governments or individuals. Though the facts most often do point to these groups’ mismanagement, corruption and desire for exponential quarter over quarter growth—it is not that simple. Linear, binary thinking is keeping us stuck, data with no emotional context keeps people disconnected from the truth, and fear only reinforces paralysis.

Cognitive neuroscience is a remarkable new voice in the world of science, and is widely popularized both by corporations using these findings to inform marketing, but also by people who are interested in solving problems by learning why their brains do what they do. We are in the midst of a critical moment—a time of rapid advancement in cognitive neuroscience and imaging, a practice that is influencing people in real-time (not years after formalized data is drawn). This is the moment of The Brain.

Neuroscience has recently focused on the relationship between mind and music, mind and color, politics, neuroeconomics, meditation/relaxation and other compelling areas including gratitude, happiness and empathy. However, little is known about the brain “on the ocean.”  What happens to the brain when a person is in proximity to the ocean? Why do we spend hard earned money to vacation near the sea? What are the links between the ocean, meditation, stress and public health? We believe that the questions here may provide us the insights into an important new tool for conservation – not just trying to shift behavior, but ways to understand and best use our brains to change our total relationship to this ocean planet.

To better serve the planet, science must better understand this connection (that of mind and emotion) because it is how we feel empathy, how we connect to the ocean and our planet that will best resolve how to engage the entire world in the challenging work of restoring what we have broken in nature.

We believe that BLUEMiND will be an important catalyst for this change, and an exhilarating exploration of the intersection of ocean and brain science.

BLUEMiND will give an answer to the questions:

What can happen when a project combines the biggest, most unique and dynamic feature of our planet, the ocean, with a cutting-edge understanding of the most powerful organ in the universe, the human brain?

How can what we learn about this mind-ocean relationship better inform efforts to protect, restore and steward the ocean?

BLUEMiND will invite neuroscientists to explore the following questions:

  1. What are neuroscientists in your field working on right now?

  2. How can those findings connect to and inform ocean research and conservation?

  3. What is possible in terms of mind-ocean research in the future? 


BLUEMiND Audience:

Neuroscientists, artists/media makers, conservation scientists, entrepreneurs, journalists and others.BLUEMIND will be livecast and immediately archived for wide public dissemination.

BLUEMiND Outcomes:

  1. A commitment from neuroscientists to deepen their research on the relationship between the Ocean and Mind

  2. A commitment from conservation scientists and practitioners to consider insights from cognitive neuroscience part of their expanded toolbox.

  3. Reports from BLUEMIND will translate into “available material” on the web for the general public to access for free and quickly

  4. White paper publications

  5. BLUEMiND leaders will be trained to disseminate the information globally through a network ofBLUEMiND workshops

  6. Press coverage – industrial (e.g. science publications) but also popular outlets (Huffington Post, Wired and others) about the new shift towards empathy and love, etc.

BLUEMIND is part of The BLUE MARBLES PROJECT a growing movement for the healing of our planet—our blue marble. began as an international community driven experiment. Over the course of eighteen months nearly one million individuals have received or given a blue marble to another individual as a talisman of gratitude for work that benefits our planet. Environmental justice and social change movements have relied upon fear-based motivation to try and engage the world in efforts to address the vast concerns that our planet faces. The Blue Marble Project takes a different approach.  Motivation to change the world through empathy, gratitude, and love is our strategy—and it is working. Our purpose is to provide a platform and supplementary programs that will connect constituents, deepen their engagement with environmental justice and social change, and renew their commitment to repairing our world. The outcome is an acceleration of a diverse and growing global movement that will save our Blue Marble—our planet.


Project Leadership: 


Dr. Wallace J Nichols

J.’s projects and philosophy incorporates participatory science, social networking/community organizing, and creative communication to inspire a healthier relationship with the sea. J. is a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and founder/co-director of Ocean Revolution, an international network of young ocean advocates. He earned his MEM in Environmental Policy and Economics from Duke University’s Nicholas School and his PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from University of Arizona. He has authored over 50 scientific papers, mentors an international group of graduate students and is a featured blogger for The Huffington Post. Recently, GQ Magazine profiled him as a leading, “Keeper of the Sea”. He is the father of Julia and Grayce.

Sarah Kornfeld

Sarah is a writer, creative producer and  executive with fifteen years of hybrid experience in art, technology and the environment. Sarah is a passionate advocate and champion of artists and cultural institutions exploring the interconnection of art, education and global issues.  She has been a producer and collaborator with The Kitchen, Pop!Tech, UC Irvine, The Beall Center for Art and Technology, The Institute for the Future and others. Recent environmental programs have been with Ocean Revolution, EO Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and Rebecca Costa. She has co-authored articles with Dr. Nichols for The Huffington Post, and has been profiled in Fast Company for innovative work with scientists and futurists. She is the mother of Luca.

Production Collective is a full service social responsibility agency led by Co-Founders Julia Rhodes Davis and Primavera Salvá, that specializes in experiential marketing, social responsibility strategy development and implementation.  Production Collective advises and supports businesses and nonprofit organizations to align their mission and social responsibility strategies to advance social change agendas.  The company is currently a collaborator with the Blue Marbles Project in the evolution of the program as it relates to strategy and BLUEMiND events.

Dr. Jake Dunagan | Institute For The Future.  Jake’s research examines the role of emerging technologies in transforming identity, culture, and governance. His recent research has focused on the social, legal, and political implications of the coming of the neurocentric age (see Mind in a Designed World). He has also been a lead researcher on the future of video and real-time communication, the future of the courts, and the future of home improvement. He has been leading explorations into new methods for communicating foresight, including experiential scenarios, digital stories, and ethical spectacles.  Being a Futurist has always been Jake’s destiny, as his birthday is October 26–the day Marty McFly time-travels Back to the Future. Jake received his Ph.D. at the Manoa School of Futures Studies where he studied neuropolitics, futures theories and methods (including alternative futures), and futures public engagement strategies.  Jake holds an M.A. from Temple University, and a B.A. from Auburn University, both in Visual Anthropology.  His Master’s thesis, “Alternatives in Anthropological Communication: Ethnographic Surrealism and Fake Documentary,” examined cultural representation and the role of media conventions in the construction of truth.  Jake is advising BLUEMiND as we develop the agenda.