50 Voices of the Future: Margaret Leinen on advances in oceanography

leinen50voiceIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

As much as we know about our planet’s ocean, it contains countless mysteries we have yet to solve, countless secrets we have yet to decipher. Dr. Margaret Leinen, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, notes that “we have more images of Mars than we do of the bottom of the ocean.” Advances in technology, she says, will allow us to peer into the ocean’s distant past in order to forecast its future changes and the implications of those changes for the planet as a whole. “That ability to really see the ocean, and what’s in the ocean, and to see it changing in front of us, is probably the most exciting development in our field,” she says.

 Why is the work you do important?

I’m an oceanographer. The ocean covers 70 percent of the planet. It is the absolute driver of global climate. The ocean moderates the climate and keeps us from having really great temperature extremes. All of the precipitation originally comes from the ocean. The ocean is a huge food source for everyone and a major food source for 2 billion of the poorest people on the planet. Virtually all the goods that we think of as the basis for trade – big things like lumber and cars, small things like electronics — are transported over the ocean. Then of course there’s national defense – the Navy is a major player in defense. Then there are other things like the quality of the environment that makes swimming, diving, surfing, and sailing possible. Oceanographers look at all of those aspects. They look at how the ocean works, they look at the ecosystems within it, they look at techniques to be able to determine how the ocean is changing, they look at fisheries, they look at coastal issues like water quality, sea-level rise, etc. So it’s the sum of all those very important roles that oceanographers play.

What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

The ocean has been one of the most under-observed parts of the earth. We have more images of the surface of Mars than we do of the bottom of the ocean. But that’s changing. New systems are being developed that are autonomous and that have great capability of collecting and transmitting data. Even more important are new technologies for being able to get a global picture of the ocean itself – the interior of the ocean. We now have four thousand autonomous floats moving around the ocean every day, and every day about a fifth of those floats report back on profiles they’ve taken of the entire upper 6,500 feet of the ocean. We have a picture of the temperature, the salinity, the currents of the ocean that is so much more detailed than ever before as a result of ten years of these measurements. This new technology is completely revolutionizing oceanography. There are also new instruments for biology, enabling us to look at the genomics of the ocean, the microbiology of the ocean. The field is exploding so fast in capability that it’s hard to even keep track of. That ability to really see the ocean, and what’s in the ocean, and to see it changing in front of us, is probably the most exciting development in our field.

What’s the next big thing?

It’s hard to under-sell how important our new knowledge of the microbiology of the ocean is. In the last decade our understanding of microbes and viruses has completely changed our thinking. We now know that the genetic make-up of microbes holds keys to what the ocean was like in the past. Someone just described it this way: The earth’s history — since the time that there was an ocean — is written in the DNA of the microbes of the ocean in a language that we never knew and that we still don’t know how to speak.

How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

San Diego is a coastal town, has a huge economy related to the ocean – trade, tourism, fishing, Navy – and the region itself is very much a part of that. Even the biotech part of the San Diego economy has not yet profited by our understanding of all of this ocean biology. I think oceanography will play an incredible role in shaping the evolution of the biotech industry here, unveiling marine molecules related to new drugs or novel compounds that do interesting things that we need done. I think oceanography will also shape the future of San Diego in how we deal with sea-level rise and how we deal with pollution in our waters; oceanography is at the heart of that.

Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?

Oceanography will be even more interdisciplinary than it is now. This year we hired eight new faculty who have fully joint appointments with other parts of the university – the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, the departments of anthropology, biology, and global policy and strategy. We need closer relationships with all of those fields to be able to attack the big questions and problems that we want to look at over the next decades. Also, our field will be saturated with technologies for observing the ocean that we don’t even know about now

Leinen is featured on UC San Diego’ Extension STEAM Channel as part of series The Constellation: Sally Ride Science Conversations. She discusses her career, leading the University of California’s delegation to the Paris Climate Conference and the impact of the new Research Vessel/Sally Ride.

50 Voices of the Future: Stacey Pennington on revitalizing East Village


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

San Diego’s Downtown is in the midst of an urban renewal as it looks to transform itself into a hub for innovation, culture and community connections. Stacey Pennington, a principal at SLP Urban Planning, has long been a driving force in the effort to revitalize the Downtown neighborhood. Currently, Pennington is part of the team working on Makers Quarter, a six-city block mixed-use district in the East Village that aims to create a vibrant economic and residential neighborhood that will power the region’s prosperity for generations to come.

Why is the work you do important?

As an urban planner, I have the opportunity to help shape the future of cities and the built environment, more specifically focusing on the East Village neighborhood in Downtown San Diego and Makers Quarter. The future of the built environment really drives and helps shape the quality of people’s lives and the opportunities that the next generations will have to fulfill their goals and dreams. That, paired together with issues of sustainability and our nation’s infrastructure and growth patterns over the past several decades, makes the field of urban planning even that much more significant.

What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

The rapid transformation of how we live our day-to-day lives with the influence of technology affects us in many ways. And professionally, it affects the world of urban planning, design, building and architecture. Technology has created a field of interest within urban planning relating to smart cities, which has many layers but is a very scalable concept. It relates just as much to the future of unmanned vehicles as it does to how the region plans for systems of transportation, energy and communication.

Those two things interact with the broader city and urban environment where potentially the mechanisms behind everything can speak to one another. That’s very exciting, especially as it relates to goals of sustainability because of the efficiencies and energy use that can otherwise be measured and improved.

Another exciting development is the increasing importance of civic involvement and how cities are planned, designed and built, all while incorporating the application of human centered design principles.

What’s the next big thing?

One of the great things about urban planning is its’ diversity – an urban planner can be focused on the scale of a region, city or block and through the lens of transportation + mobility, open space + connectivity or community engagement, among many other areas. One thing that I have been very focused on is shifting away from traditional models for community engagement, which might include a series of town hall style meetings on a particular topic, towards a much more interactive and iterative approach known as Tactical Urbanism, where ideas and concepts are ‘tested’ in an interim nature and, the ones that work, shape the future, while the ones that don’t, we learn from early. This approach is instrumental to many of the scales of urban planning and is just now getting broader traction throughout the City and Region. I really see the next big thing being a gradual and incremental transition towards a more thoughtful and genuine model for civic engagement that can be applied across multiple scales, whether it is similar to the approach taken in Makers Quarter, at the scale of six blocks in Downtown, or at a much broader, infrastructure driven scale.

How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

I see urban planning through a very holistic lens where it’s incredibly intertwined with issues like economic development – I believe that it will be one of the most important fields in determining the future of our region. The strength of San Diego’s innovation economy and it’s potential to grow heightens the importance of creating environments for it to flourish. While we are known for our beauty, we are also creating a rich and diverse Downtown environment suited to provide the infrastructure, culture, education, open space and density needed for a promising future.

Hop in to your time machine … what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

The future will be intertwined with technology in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine. In the future, I think urban planning will follow a similar trajectory for the role it played many decades ago. I think the same pattern will continue and it will intensify and be expedited. Urban planning went from being an integral but separate field, and today it’s incredibly intertwined with all issues on every scale. I think that 50 years from now, the way people live their lives and the central role of technology and the growth of cities will be completely intertwined.

We have a wide range of Environment & Sustainability offerings. Learn more about the UC San Diego Extension Urban Planning & Preservation courses and programs on our website. 

50 Voices of the Future: Scott Robinson on human-centered design


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

When it comes to design, Scott Robinson thinks Frank Lloyd Wright said it best: “Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”  As the founder, president and CEO of FreshForm, an experiential branding agency, Robinson takes that advice to heart, leveraging human-centered design principles to grow and differentiate brands in today’s ever-changing digital landscape, including Acura, Honda, Ballast Point, Facebook, Intel, ExxonMobil, Qualcomm and University of San Diego. Robinson has been in the field of design and marketing for nearly 20 years and at the helm of FreshForm since 2001 and remains intensely passionate about the intersection of marketing, design, technology, innovation and consumer behavior in the digital age.

(1) Why is the work you do important?
Human-centered design is a creative approach to solving both large- and small-scale problems and is at the heart of what we do at FreshForm. I’m an advocate for design and what it provides as a competitive advantage for growth-oriented companies, organizations and institutions. At FreshForm, we combine design and technology to create what we call “experiential branding.” Good design matters because it helps alleviate frustrations, allows for efficiency, creates an emotional connection and can positively influence behavioral change.

At the community level, I’m involved with two important initiatives. One is called the Design Forward Alliance, which is an advocacy group promoting the value of design. Don Norman, the director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego, was the catalyst for the organization and an active advisor. The other initiative is the San Diego Brand Alliance, spearheaded by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, which is helping craft a global brand for the region.

(2) What are the influential/exciting development happening in your field now and why?
I’m excited about the recent push to advance design education. Design thinking, which is a subset of human-centered design, is finding its way into K-12 and universities across the country. The newly opened Ideate High Academy in Downtown San Diego has a mission is to provide a rich, design thinking–based curriculum for creative high school pupils that incorporates student-centered learning, interdisciplinary challenges, college preparation, internships, empathic social responsibility and innovative thinking for the 21st Century. The Design Lab at UC San Diego is creating an exciting, vibrant design community that pervades the campus, cutting across disciplines, developing cross-campus projects, combining practice with theory. And the University of Texas hired Doreen Lorenzo to oversee a campus-wide initiative to integrate design thinking into the curriculum across the university. All of these institutions are developing a new breed of designers and innovators.

(3) What’s the next big thing?
I’m curious how design can (and will) impact artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). These are two areas that will change our lives drastically in the next decade. Can we design AI to be more empathetic? Can we be connected emotionally to the IoT devices in our homes and offices? The key is designing for hyper-personalization and contextual awareness.

(4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?
San Diego is at an interesting and exciting time. The energy and optimism today is like nothing I’ve ever felt growing up here in San Diego. Design will be at the center of how the future will be shaped. Our choice is whether we embrace good design for our region or not. In the next 50 years, our population will grow by nearly 40 percent, which will mostly be coming from local growth. Due to climate change and rising sea levels, we could be one of the most impacted regions in the country. How we adapt to these factors is up to us. Human-centered design can bring together cross-disciplinary experts to work through ideas and prototype solutions to some of these major initiatives. Design can be the common thread — regardless of the challenge we face.

(5) Hop in to your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?
I see two futures – one that is well-designed and one that is not. In 50 years, a well-design future allows for technology to scale as rapidly as it needs to, but our lives are better and less frustrating because of it. A well-designed future allows health care to be more personal and thoughtful, more predictive, preventative and accessible. A well-designed future allows autonomous vehicles to alleviate many accidents, and increase the speed and comfort in our travels. A well-designed future allows for our homes, streets and neighborhoods to embrace smarter technologies, while also making them more secure. A well-designed future allows for us to preserve the natural beauty of this region and this earth, while finding new ways to support the growth and expansion of humanity and technology.

Alternatively, a future that is not well-designed will create a world that is much more visibly and functionally complex and frustrating.

UC San Diego Extension offers a variety of design-related certificate programs and courses each quarter, as well as year-long intensive program in Graphic and Web Design. Learn more in an online information session.

UC San Diego Extension announces “The Next Fifty” scholarship recipients

50thLogoCMYKUniversity of California San Diego Extension has announced the 10 recipients for “The Next Fifty” scholarships, which is part of its yearlong 50th anniversary celebration. The scholarship program is UC San Diego Extension’s way to give back to the community by helping people prepare for what’s next. Awardees can use the $5,000 scholarship toward Extension’s courses and certificates.

Extension selected the 10 recipients out of close to 500 applications and the recipients represent a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. The recipients and their areas of study are:

  1. David Beatty for Business Analysis Tools and Strategies
  2. Lala Forrest for Art and the Creative Process
  3. Rami Husseini for Datamining
  4. Norma Lopez for Teaching Adult Learners
  5. Patrick Mazza III for Occupational Health and Safety
  6. Alexandra Southard for Business Intelligence Analysis
  7. Kathleen Stadler for Fundraising and Development
  8. Abigail Wattierrez for Sustainable Business Practices
  9. Ryan Williams for Community Research and Program Evaluation
  10. Jordan Woolsey for Translation and Interpretation (Spanish/English)

The scholarships were open to those with at least a high school degree or equivalent and who saw UC San Diego Extension as a way to advance their career or pursue their passions. The applicants were required to write a 500-word essay on how Extension can help them prepare for the future, which will be shared on Extension’s blog in the coming weeks.

Ed Abeyta, assistant dean of community outreach and director of pre-college programs for UC San Diego Extension, said “The Next Fifty” scholarships deliver on Extension’s mission to offer the education and training needed to ensure the region is prepared for changes occurring in everything from the arts to technology to science.

“UC San Diego Extension wants to be a positive force for change. For more than 50 years, Extension has been evolving its programs and educational offerings to meet the needs of San Diego,” Abeyta said. “These scholarships will help individuals stay ahead of the curve and get ready for what’s next and underscore our commitment to lifelong learning.”

In addition to the scholarship program, Extension has been publishing a weekly blog feature called “Voices of the Future,” which showcases thought leaders including UC San Diego faculty, industry and civic leaders as well as Extension instructors on the technological and social advances envisioned in the next 50 years. These stories are designed to cover a wide variety of topics and highlight the life-changing advances happening on campus, in the San Diego region, and in the education sector itself.

UC San Diego Extension has also offered a variety of public lectures and programs to deliver on Extension’s anniversary celebration’s core mission and message, which is to prepare individuals and institutions for change. Upcoming events include a panel on the Election 2016 that Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for The Atlantic, will moderate and that will feature, Thad Kousser, chair and professor of political science at UC San Diego; Scott Lewis, editor of the Voice of San Diego; and Laura Fink, professional political consultant.

To find out more about UC San Diego Extension’s anniversary scholarships, blog features and events, visit http://extension.ucsd.edu/.

Panel explores growth in green jobs

13310317 - engineer checking with tablet computer

Sustainability isn’t just about moral superiority. It can also lead to upward mobility – for your career, that is.

As more businesses invest in a variety of green initiatives, demand for those with expertise in sustainability management continues to increase.

According to Wanted Analytics, a firm that tracks hiring data, sustainability jobs in the United States have more than doubled in the past four years. In addition, San Diego ranks as the 7th largest metropolitan area in the nation for green job activity, with one in 10 jobs linked to industries related to the clean economy.

While the reasons green job growth vary, there continues to be steady demand for people with expertise in creating and implementing sustainability policies and programs, said Ben Radhakrishnan, who is the lead faculty for National University’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management.

“Studies show that sustainable policies can support greater customer loyalty, and companies need experts to help them better understand sustainability policies so that they can make sure they are conforming to these standards in their daily practices to be good corporate citizens,” he said.

To further explore both the demand in sustainability management as well as the skills needed to be successful in this career, National University and UC San Diego Extension have joined together to offer a free panel discussion on Tuesday, Aug. 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in room 150 at National University’s Spectrum Center, which is located at 9388 Lightwave Ave. San Diego 92123.

Radhakrishnan will moderate a panel of sustainability experts who are teachers at National University and UC San Diego Extension and the discussion will focus on such topics as how the field is evolving and what skills are most in demand.

“Sustainability management benefits from people who are adept at seeing the bigger picture and connecting the dots in terms of understating how different departments and sectors can coordinate their approaches,” Radhakrishnan said.

In addition, attendees will learn about the variety of educational and training options available, including a unique credit transfer partnership that the two institutions offer. Through the recently formed partnership, UC San Diego Extension students who have completed Extension’s Sustainable Business Practices certificate can receive credits toward National University’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management. In addition, students enrolled in National University’s master’s program can apply some of their courses toward Extension’s certificate. Both the certificate and master’s program are available online, allowing students throughout the country to benefit from the partnership.

To register for the free event, visit Eventbrite. For more about UC San Diego Extension’s Sustainable Business Practices certificate, visit extension.ucsd.edu/sustainable. To learn more about National University’s M.S. in Sustainability Management, visit nu.edu/sustainability.

Using psychology to save the planet

View More: http://kevinmsutton.pass.us/jennifer-talaricoJennifer Tabanico makes her living trying to change people’s habits and behavior. Her job requires a journalist’s investigative skills, an advertiser’s marketing talents, and a psychologist’s understanding of why people do what they do.

One day she might be helping the city of Oceanside coax residents into picking up after their dogs. The next she might be working with the city of Fort Worth, Texas, to improve its residents’ recycling habits.

Tabanico, 39, who will teach a new online course this fall at UC San Diego Extension, has been very successful very quickly. Her company, Action Research, which began as a small operation in North San Diego County, now has clients all over the country as well as a few in other parts of the world, and it recently opened a second office in New York.

Virtually all of her company’s clients, she said, want to change behavior in a way that helps the environment or public health and safety.

She, too, is committed to the cause. Changing people’s basic habits, she believes, is essential for the planet’s long-term health. Her company’s stated mission is “changing behavior for the public good” by promoting “clean, healthy, and sustainable communities.”

“When you look at any environmental problem or even a lot of our health problems, you can really drill that down to individual behaviors,” she said. “At the end of the day, you’re really looking at individual decisions and choices.”

The key, of course, is figuring out the most effective way to sway your target audience.

“It’s more than just educating people, and it’s more than just getting people to care about something,” she said. “It’s really addressing the underlying motivations that people have.”

Tabanico’s new nine-week course will be called Behavior Change Strategies for Sustainability, one of four courses taught as part of Extension’s Sustainability & Behavior Change certificate.

She’ll be teaching all the tactics required to succeed in this line of work, such as identifying and overcoming whatever obstacles might prevent a person from modifying his or her habits.

When it comes to, say, reducing water use, people might simply have a hard time remembering what days to water lawns and for how long. Or they simply might not care enough to change their ways. How do you figure out which of these is the main obstacle? And how do you proceed from there?

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/107265775″>Litter Researcher Tells Us Dirty Secrets – Clean Trails</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/cleantrails”>Clean Trails</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Tabanico hadn’t originally intended to embark on this career path. She thought she might go to medical school and become a doctor. But as an undergraduate and then master’s student at California State University San Marcos, she studied under Wesley Schultz, a social psychology professor.

It was during this time she started learning about community-based social marketing, “which is applying insights from psychology to motivate people to engage in (certain) behavior,” she said. “I kind of fell in love with that process as a graduate student. It really felt like I was making a difference.”

Meanwhile, Schultz, began doing some consulting work in the field. He formed Action Research, and Tabanico began helping him. The purpose of the company, she said, was to “link research from academics to the real world—program planners that are trying to engage communities or workplaces in behaviors that benefit the environment.”

In 2007, they hired staff and started building the company. She took over partial ownership in 2009 and complete ownership in 2015. Today, the company continues to grow at a rapid pace. She and her staff are working on 24 projects around the country as well as in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

One recent client was the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which oversees a variety of clean-energy programs. The agency was looking to convince residents of one particular building to cut back on their energy use. The problem: these residents had no financial incentive to do so because their rent covered their electricity usage.

Tabanico and her partners on the project began interviewing the tenants and giving them information about how much energy their neighbors were using. The idea was to motivate the tenants by using the “normative social influence” approach—in other words, using their neighbors’ behavior to convince them to change their own behavior.

The tactic worked. The building saw a marked decrease in energy use.

“A large body of research suggests that people look to others to determine their own behavior,” she said. “It’s been demonstrated time and time again that people tend to go along with the group. Whatever the majority of people are doing, people tend to fall in line.”

Tabanico also has written articles for a variety of technical publications, including the Journal of Environmental Psychology, BioCycle magazine, and the journal Social Influence.

View More: http://kevinmsutton.pass.us/jennifer-talaricoWhen she’s not working, she might be kayaking, skydiving, or running an obstacle race. She lives in Oceanside with her eight-year-old son, who has been helping her clean up beaches since he was three.

She has worked on numerous local environmental issues since moving to the North San Diego County area in 1997.

“That’s where my heart has always been on a lot of the pollution-prevention work,” she said. “You can really see the local impact. That’s what I find very rewarding.  I feel like I’m making a real impact.”

For more information about our Sustainability and Behavior Change certificate, visit extension.ucsd.edu/sustainablebehavior

50 Voices of the Future: Lauray MacElhern uses food as medicine


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Our health depends on a variety of things, from our genetic make-up to our lifestyles. But only recently have medical professionals begun to recognize the value of taking an “integrative” approach to health care – which means, as one writer recently phrased it, “exploring new ways to treat the mind, body and spirit at the same time.” Lauray MacElhern, managing director of UC San Diego’s Center of Integrative Medicine, believes that in the future, health care will rely more and more not just on what medicines we take but how we control our stress, how we prepare our food, even how we manage our thought processes. She predicts that a few decades from now, the best doctors will be experts in all these things – and we’ll all be much healthier as a result.

(1) Why is the work you do important?

Integrative medicine is all about empowering each individual with active participation in their own health care, not just passively receiving treatments and cares. It’s about bringing together both ancient wisdom and modern science into one place; that’s kind of the beauty of it. This approach helps people discover their own prescriptions for care – through diet, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga, other things – usually starting with the most natural, least invasive types of treatments. We’re also educating the next generation of health care professionals to have this new view of health care and how it should encompass all possible opportunities for healing, not just the ones that have been in their traditional training.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

I’m very excited about the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health – more than 60 other academic health centers and health systems around the country that have their own centers of integrative medicine. To me, it’s very telling about the direction health care is moving because it’s what patients are demanding, not to mention it’s also improving health outcomes and saving money for the health care system. I’m also really excited about the way we’re doing research now in integrative medicine. We’re taking more of a practice-based approach, which is really looking at uniformly collecting patient outcomes and health data and then using that data to analyze and look for all sorts of best practices. I think it’s a new gold standard for integrative medicine.

(3) What’s the next big thing?

I think there’s a really big gap between science and practice. I think this is where the opportunity really is. There’s this extraordinary lengthy of time between when solid research findings come out and then when those research findings become standard practice in the world of health care. It’s usually about 20 years. There’s a related gap in the world of nutrition. Dieticians and nutritionists are usually trained in terms of biochemistry and nutrition science, but they leave out the practical elements of shopping, cooking, preparation and meal planning. Chefs are taught these skills but chefs aren’t really taught these skills in the context of how to use food as medicine. So none of these fields really draws upon ancient wisdom, connecting other parts of integrative medicine such as chewing well, stress reduction, inner wisdom. So there’s this gap between nutrition education, the practice of healthy eating and integrative medicine that I think really represents the opportunity for the next big thing.

(4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

At UC San Diego in particular, I think we’re uniquely poised to be a leader in integrative medicine, focused specifically on food as medicine. Southern California is hungry for this paradigm shift. Also, I think we draw upon a really unique position in San Diego. We’re right on the border with Mexico, we have this wonderful opportunity for cuisine and a rich cultural heritage to expand our thinking about food. We have extraordinary sea life; we talk a lot about the importance of sea weeds in our diet. Also, in California is such a rich agricultural hub. We’re surrounded by all these opportunities for learning and collaborative.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?  How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

I think integrative medicine will just be good medicine. I don’t know that it will even be called anything. We’ll have a health care system that will put health care at the center and healthy habits will be supported by our society. Health and nutrition coaches are a fast-growing field and likely to play an important role in this transformation. Restaurants, hospitals, schools and any facility where food is part of the system will be providing healing-oriented foods and menu items, which will be the standards so that if someone wants to add unhealthy items, it will take a lot more effort. So the default will be the healthy items and if you want unhealthy items, that’s going to take a little extra effort. It will be so expensive and uncomfortable to live an unhealthy life that rarely will anyone choose this path. The first step is to envision it. Once we do that, we can take steps in the right direction.

Learn more about the ideas Lauray MacElhern discusses in this article in a range of Healthcare courses and programs offered by UC San Diego Extension, including the Fitness Instruction/Exercise Science certificate program, and courses such as Human NutritionIntroduction to Nutrition Science, and Nutrition for Fitness and Sport.

50 Voices of the Future: Paul Roben on how innovation can change the world


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

A person with some tech savvy and a big idea can transform the world, as we’ve seen from companies as different as Facebook and Uber. Now more than ever, colleges and universities are searching for ways to help students run with these ideas. UC San Diego’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Commercialization, Paul Roben, believes he and his colleagues at other schools can help facilitate extraordinary advances in the next few decades in fields ranging from health care to climate-change. “I have a 2-year-old daughter,” he says, “and I can’t even imagine what the world will be like when she gets to college.”

(1) Why is the work you do important?

The world around us has changed. We’re now working in a real disruption economy, where all the rules of the old economy have been turned on their head. We run education programs to help educate students and faculty on “what is innovation, what is entrepreneurship, how do I tell my story, how do I build teams, how do I develop as a leader” so that they can go out and use their ideas to change the world. We give them the tools they need to help them on that journey from idea to impact, whether that be a commercial product, or a social innovation. We also support a lot of resources across the university — accelerators, incubators, entrepreneurs-in-residence, mentorship programs. All of this is to bring diverse perspectives together, and help people who have good ideas that they think are going to benefit people, turn those ideas into reality. And that’s really what’s important.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

The biggest hotel company in the world, AirBnB, doesn’t own a hotel. The biggest taxi company in the world, Uber, doesn’t own a car. We’re working in a different world now. People now have the opportunity to really change the world with ideas, and the economy and society we live in allows them to do that. And data is driving everything – it’s driving sustainability, it’s driving climate change, it’s driving energy. Until now, we’ve been good at generating a whole bunch of data but now we have the ability to analyze that data in meaningful ways so that we can solve some real intractable problems that affect us all as a global society.

(3) What’s the next big thing?

Precision medicine is helping us to develop cures for diseases that were, up until now, incurable. In health care, bringing together wireless technology with sensors, with personalized medicine, is really going to empower individuals to take responsibility for their own health in ways we haven’t seen previously. I’m very encouraged about that. When we get to sustainability and energy, I think we’re going to see massive leaps forward over the next ten years, whether it be water, energy, transportation or climate change. Ten years from now, we’re probably not going to be driving our own cars, which means the idea of ownership of cars is probably going to go away, to some extent at least, which opens up massive possibilities for improving transportation and energy use.

(4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

I think UC San Diego is one of the linchpins in terms of the economic development of the region. Our convening power, our ability to get people in a room talking to each other will play a critical role. We’re facilitators, and if we get the right people in the room, we will really help with all of this.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?  How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

I think if we do our job right, my profession may not be here in 50 years. What we’re doing is empowering people to run with their own ideas and turn them into reality. Today’s generation is taking so much more responsibility in their own hands, taking so much initiative. What I’m doing is helping them to open their eyes and lighting a spark. If we’re really good at this, we’ll get to the point where they don’t need us anymore.

AVC Roben is working with UC San Diego Extension and the Downtown San Diego Partnership on its newly established Collaboratory for Downtown Innovation. The goal of the Collaboratory is for UC San Diego to help support and strengthen Downtown’s growing tech ecosystem through a variety of programs that will provide networking, business support and workforce training.

50 Voices of the Future: Wesley Schultz on creating sustainable behaviors


In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Like most of the scientific community, social psychologist Wesley Schultz believes human beings have caused many of the environmental problems facing our planet. But Schultz’s research also shows that we can be the main factor in improving the health of our environment. The key is showing people that getting involved in conservation, recycling, and sustainability doesn’t necessarily mean sacrifice – in fact, healing the Earth can feel pretty darn good. Schultz teaches social psychology and statistics at Cal State San Marcos, and is teaching a course in Conservation Psychology at UC San Diego Extension this summer.

(1) Why is the work you do important?

It’s clear that our current level of consumption and degree of environmental impact is unsustainable. If you think about the environmental problems that we face, the problems are caused by human behavior, and so solving the problem then means that we need to change behavior. We need to change what we do, and there are a lot of different pathways that can move us to a more sustainable way of living, but all of these pathways involve people. Whether we’re talking about new technology like solar panels, or LED light bulbs, or local foods, or whatever the behavior is, it means that people need to do something different.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

Historically, conservation has been seen as sacrificing. If you’re going to conserve, it means giving up your personal gain in order to prioritize environmental protection. The new research is clearly showing that individuals can engage in environmental protection for personal reasons. In many cases, behaviors that have a positive environmental impact also have positive benefits to the person. People are happier, or they’re living a simpler lifestyle, or there’s the financial gain, or there’s improved social connections.

(3) What’s the next big thing?

One of the things that I see in my research is that programs that are really effective have some sort of social component to them. They make sustainability and conservation fun and engaging. With the explosion of new technologies and especially social media, there’s new ways of communicating, and this has opened up a large number of opportunities to engage people in sustainability. I think that’s a really exciting opportunity.

(4) How big of an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

One of the great things about living here in San Diego is that the natural environment makes for such a high quality of life, and people spend time at the beach, they’re in the water in the bay, they’re swimming, they’re hiking. We spend a huge amount of time outside, and it’s really a way of life here. People want to live in clean and healthy and safe environments.

If you think about our local region here, we’re already seeing a direct impact of human behavior on our local environment. Whether it’s sea level change, or water pollution, or air pollution, I think individuals in communities are going to really start pushing for change.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

Our field of study can help us achieve the vision I have for the future:

Where getting from place to place is easy and convenient, and it uses clean sources of energy. We have comfortable temperatures in our indoor environments using energy that generates almost entirely from renewable sources. We’re eating local food, and buying local products that support a strong ritual economy. There’s very little trash because almost all used materials are collected and recycled. There are clean, beautiful public spaces that are free from litter, and people are living in communities where they can work and play and have families, all in close proximity, and where they have a connection and an engagement with their neighbors and their community.

Learn more about our Sustainability & Behavior Change certificate program and explore the variety of Environment & Sustainability courses and programs we offer every quarter.

The biggest conservation challenge: Transforming human behaviors

BeTransformative.jpgWhat if changing human behavior could solve most conservation problems seen throughout the world?

As it turns out – it can.

Recognizing this, environmental professionals working to conserve water, protect wildlife, or promote climate protection are incorporating strategies to activate sustainable behavior change into their programs and campaigns.

These strategies draw on an understanding of behavioral science and the emerging field of conservation psychology which explores the factors that foster sustainable behavior and interventions that work (and those that don’t) to engender behavior change.

According to Carol Saunders of Brookfield Zoo, these approaches can be built into community and public outreach programs to enhance public commitment to more sustainable practices. Saunders believes one of the fundamental characteristics of conservation change stems from better attempts “to understand self-in-relation to nature in order to develop a more powerful vocabulary for influencing the public discourse and producing enduring behavior change.”

“Educators and outreach specialists are often at the vanguard in popularizing sustainability and helping people care about their local environment,” said James Danoff-Burg, Ph.D., director of Big Sky Consulting, a leader in providing expert science-based education and conservation solutions.

Critically, however, research demonstrates that awareness and knowledge alone do not promote behavior change and new approaches are needed. An important component requires an understanding of how to communicate an organization’s message to the public in such a way that prompts desired results.

“You’ll find older anti-litter ads, for example, that featured a beach covered in discarded cigarette butts. Even though this paints a clear picture about the impact of litter on the environment, it did little to change the habits of people who litter,” said Laura Fandino, Ph.D., director of Extension’s Environment and Sustainability programs. Instead, messages that are based on an understanding of human behavior are more likely to achieve results and that’s where that’s where conservation psychology and related subjects comes in to play, she says.

UC San Diego Extension’s new specialized certificate, Sustainability and Behavior Change helps practitioners integrate behavioral science into environmental projects and programs. Danoff-Burg will be the instructor for the Community Engagement course within the certificate. He says part of the main goal of the certificate program is to help change-makers learn to develop their skills to inspire sustainability and environmental conservation actions throughout their communities.

“The people who participate in this program are already likely creating innovation within their communities, or at least poised to do so. My goal is to help these professionals try both the already-tested successful practices that we discuss in class, but also to encourage them to improve and think creatively to identify situation-specific opportunities and act upon them,” said Danoff-Burg.

As part of the new certificate opportunity, Extension invites conservationists throughout the world to “Be Transformative,” sharing their experiences on social media channels about their efforts to activate behavior change to help build a sustainable future using the hashtag #BeTransformativeUCSDExt.

To learn opportunities offered with the Environmental and Sustainability area of study, visit extension.ucsd.edu/environment. To enroll in the new online specialized certificate in Sustainability and Behavior Change, visit extension.ucsd.edu/sustainablebehavior, or contact Fiona O’Donnell-Lawson at (858) 534-8139.

To stay up-to-date with Extension’s Environment and Sustainability opportunities and related news, follow on Twitter @UCSDExtSustain.