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Worldview Stanford launches 'The Science of Decision Making'

New program introduces innovations in professional education aimed at creating framework for strategic decisions.

Farrin N. Abbott William Newsome

Neurobiology Professor William Newsome explains how brains process choices during filming for Worldview Stanford's The Science of Decision Making course.

Worldview Stanford is an innovative Stanford University initiative that creates learning experiences for professionals to help them get smarter about the issues and dynamics shaping the future.

Worldview Stanford​ builds on the university's leadership in interdisciplinary inquiry and online learning to tackle complex topics – from China and climate change to global demography and brain science breakthroughs.

By combining flexible, online content with an immersive, Stanford-based experience, decision makers get the frameworks, content, commentary and updates they need to inform their strategic decisions.

Worldview Stanford's inaugural offering, The Science of Decision Making, examines how the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, behavioral economics, business, engineering and other fields enhances our understanding of human decision making.

"At Stanford, we are passionate about the value of interdisciplinary research," said Stanford Dean of Research Ann Arvin.  "We believe it helps us see real world problems – and solutions – from new angles, by making connections we could never make within our own disciplines. Worldview Stanford engages professionals from many different sectors and geographies in this rich exchange of ideas."

The course, which is limited to 40 participants, opens June 2, 2014 online and culminates in the visit to campus, July 14-17. The cost is $6,500, with discounts for government, non-profits, and members of the Stanford Alumni Association.

The 15 Stanford experts participating in The Science of Decision Making exemplify Worldview's interdisciplinary approach. They include William Newsome, head of Stanford's new neuroscience institute and co-chair of President Obama's BRAIN Initiative; economist Muriel Niederle; cognitive psychologist Brian Knutson; Lindred Greer, an organizational psychologist at the Graduate School of Business; Clint Korver, a venture capitalist and engineering lecturer; David Demarest, Stanford's vice president of public affairs and former communications director for the White House and Bank of America; and Tara VanDerveer, coach of the Stanford women's basketball team.

When participants come to Stanford, they will also have a chance to handle human brains, observe pioneering lab research, "meet" Rodin's The Thinker, and visit Google for a discussion on big data and decision making.

According to Worldview Stanford Director Brie Linkenhoker, the program fills a growing need in a world of uncertainty and information overload. "In my years as a strategy consultant, we often found ourselves scrambling to help clients get up to speed on highly complex, global issues before they could begin to evaluate their strategic options," she said. "By integrating relevant research and insights from Stanford and beyond, Worldview courses enable decision makers to stretch and deepen their own knowledge of emerging issues."

This focus adds a complimentary dimension to the extensive professional educational programs already offered through Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education, the Stanford Center for Professional Development, and Continuing Studies. "We concentrate on exploring ‘big picture' topics through an interdisciplinary lens, rather than on mastering technical, management or leadership skills," Linkenhoker said. "Both approaches are critical to navigating our changing world."

Worldview Stanford's next two courses are:

The Futures of China:  How might a complex web of social, economic, political, and environmental forces and uncertainties shape the future of China – and what will that mean for the rest of the world? (Course opens Aug. 25; onsite at the Stanford Center at Peking University, Oct. 13-17).

Environmental Risk and Resilience: What are we learning about rapid environmental changes, their potential risks and impacts, and emerging strategies for mitigation and adaptation? (Course opens Oct. 27; at Stanford Dec. 8-11).