Creating A New Science — Human Interface with Global Change

The 20th Century was an era of specialization.  Many new fields of research were created that separate one domain of knowledge from another.  The 21st Century must be an era of synthesis and integration.  The challenges set before us are incredibly complex, unfolding as seamlessly interconnected patterns that span the globe.

As a social innovator who specializes in human system design, I have spent many years gathering useful knowledge across disciplines.  And now I am setting out on a path to integrate two vast domains into a rigorous framework for strategic action — earth systems research and cognitive science.

The video above explains what I am setting out to do.

Essentially, I want to address the compounding problems of systemic risk that propagate across interconnected systems.  Over the years I have observed that a vital missing piece is the role of human beings in the unfolding patterns of change around us.  How we think about the world, what we are able to see, and what we believe all shape our responses to economic and political instability, natural disasters, and societal transitions during periods of turbulence.

My vision is to create a new science of human interface design for global change that maps out the theories, tools, frameworks, and methodologies of the cognitive sciences that are vital for managing systemic change at the societal and global scale.  Examples include:

  • The psychology of identity for shaping national agendas;
  • The use of visualization for enhanced reasoning about complex problems;
  • The evolutionary foundations for human nature that shape our economic behavior;
  • The importance of group facilitation tools for achieving collective intelligence;
  • The neuroscience of belief that culminates in contrasting ideologies across cultures.

There is so much knowledge being tested, refined, and improved in the academic world right now.  And yet it remains siloed in disciplinary categories ranging from social psychology to political science, from plate tectonics to climate change.  Rigorous methodologies are needed for determining which tools are the right ones for tackling new problems.  And a broad survey must be done to reveal what those tools are in the first place.

I have taken up this task and will pursue a Ph.D. to establish the methodological foundations for this new field of research.  And I need your help.  Do you know of researchers who have created tools that I should know about?  Are you aware of universities that might want to take me on to perform this work?  Would you like to partner with me and participate in the effort?

I am currently exploring possibilities for the Martin School 21st Century School at Oxford University.  It houses dozens of cross-cutting research centers whose themes can be woven together for this work.  And I am forging a partnership with the International Centre for Earth Simulation to transfer what I discover into the hands of researchers and policy makers across the globe.

This will be the next phase of my life’s work.  Let’s play together!

Cognitive Policy Works specializes in providing organizations and individuals with frame analysis, policy briefs, strategic advising, and training.