Oceans by Design

Latest update April 16, 2019 Started on November 27, 2018

An experimental and experiential course at the Stanford d.school, in partnership with the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions

November 27, 2018
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In this final post, we describe the final classes of the quarter, reflect on Oceans by Design, and share our overall experience using the Open Explorer platform.

During the final design review on March 12th, students presented their prototypes to each other, their project partners, the Center for Ocean Solutions, the d.school, and the wider community. Prototypes included Rise: climate change-themed escape room for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Draw the Line: a social movement to prevent plastic waste, Building Baselines: an activity that visualizes the Shifting Baselines phenomenon through virtual reality, Trace to Plate: an app that helps supermarkets identify sustainable seafood, and Island Hopper: a platform that connects communities and researchers to prevent parachute science. One team improved on FishLine, an existing platform to help fishers sell seafood directly to consumers and another created a sophisticated tax policy to reduce plastic pollution.

To bookend our class “Launch” in January, we sailed back into port for our final, reflective class on March 14th. Like on the first day, students got to dance with the amazing Aleta Hayes and connect with their classmates. The rest of class involved discussion and reflection to synthesize the class experience, and provide feedback to the teaching team.

One exercise was “I used to think...Now I think” where students wrote on a card what they thought before the class (about design, about oceans, about anything) and then comment on how the class might have changed their thinking. In these reflections, many students shared the sentiment that they now value design thinking, whereas previously they did not see it as relevant to their field. Here are some examples:

“I used to think...Design thinking wasn’t applicable outside product design and now I think...Almost anything can be broken down using design thinking.”

“I used to think...Well done science was one of the best ways to work environmental science and design thinking was something my product design friends did. and now I think...This is an extremely valuable, positive, and thoughtful toolset that can be applied to any problem. Everyone in Earth Systems needs to take a design class!”

“I used to think...Design thinking wasn’t relevant to me and now I think...we need a design major!”

“I used to think...That design thinking was best suited to certain disciplines and “human centric” problems. and now I think...That a design approach can be applied in any field.”

One of the topics for reflection was this Open Explorer platform. The students enjoyed the tool as a way to share the process with the world, and document their own design journey. Written reflection included: “Interesting to connect to [the] outside world and other groups in class.” “LOVE OpenExplorer. I think it’s a rad platform.” “Brilliant, thank you for letting me discover it”

Constructive feedback was also directed to the platform itself (e.g., suggestion on making it easier to create a profile, post photos, and share to social media) as well as to how it was used for class. For example, rather than asking students to create these posts as homework, some students suggested integrating it into class time and working on posts as a group. One student said that having the website open during class would have encouraged them to engage more. Another suggestion would be to develop a system of “likes,” such as thumbs-ups, hearts, or other emojis. Such a feature may help generate more engagement on Open Explorer and across platforms.

Students also enjoyed being a part of the S.E.E. program, although only a handful of students were able to test and use the Trident R.O.V. Students that did journeyed with it to Mauritius, Puerto Rico, and the campus pool. Written reflection on the R.O.V included: “WOW thank you for this great opportunity” “Wish we had a class outing to use this. I didn’t get to.” “Not really sure how we could have used the R.O.V. in our prototype but it would have been dope.” “So cool! Such a unique experience.”

Overall, this Open Explorer platform was a great tool to share our course in a new and unusual way. Our hope is that that our experimentation with the platform as a “non-expedition” Expedition might inspire other instructors- from grade school to university level- to incorporate this open-access tool to share their teaching and learning journeys. This would ideally lead to further prototyping and sharing of curricula and more multi-disciplinary approaches towards solving problems at any scale.

As one student said in their reflection essay “I think that cross pollination between disciplines is the future of all research and adopting new methodologies and perspectives is what will help us solve these daunting global issues.”

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In The Field

Last week I attended the second Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Grant from our Oceans by Design class was also in NY, so I invited him to visit the UN where negotiations were underway. We ran a negotiation simulation in class that mirrored these current UN negotiations and Grant's role as Russia demonstrated a very important perspective that may derail negotiations, i.e., maintaining the status quo. The current state of the world's oceans and the growing impact of climate on it demonstrates a need for a major pivot, the status quo with respect to ocean management needs a major overhaul and this agreement may be a way to do this.

However, it's quite a lift to have close to 200 countries working in unison with the goal of protecting the area of ocean and seabed beyond national jurisdiction and committing to it. There are many agendas at play from national, regional and international levels. Current international and regional institutions are concerned about their mandate being eroded and states that for decades have ravaged the high seas are concerned with losing this freedom. There are large groups of states that are advocating for this agreement so there is some momentum.

Much like the Tragedy of the Commons, if we don't take steps to regulate and manage our High Sea commons we may soon be facing a global tragedy of the largest global commons we all share.

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We wrapped up design review 2 with a modified version of our experience prototype. Team Kelp-ing Hands is super proud of what we've accomplished with the idea for an education escape room which shows visitors how their everyday actions impact the environment. We're also very grateful for our partners at the Monterey Bay Aquarium-- they gave us some great feedback and were receptive to our ideas.

This course may be over, but our journey is not! We hope to work with our partners at the aquarium in the spring to see where this idea might lead.

Attached are some photos from our presentation last Tuesday!

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Hey guys! We wrapped up the class with our final design review yesterday in which we presented three prototypes: the Dishbot, a Zero Waste Campus Policy and our higher resolution prototype Draw the Line. Last week, our class focused on experiential prototypes, which is where we conceived of Draw the Line.

You can check out our video for it here: https://youtu.be/54QZBQJjiMs

Eva did an amazing job editing the video and McKinley designed an unbelievable splash page of what our website would look like, which you can find here: http://drawtheline.strikingly.com

We brought it to a higher resolution because we felt like it was the culmination of earlier prototypes. That is, it leverages technology similar to the Dishbot and has the potential to alter lifestyles like a Zero Waste Campus Policy. We received some positive feedback about the idea and we look forward to what we can do to possibly make it a reality.

Attached are some photos of our posters!


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Thank you for sharing OceanWise. Great work!
In The Field

Ocean by design gave me the incredible opportunity to experience the ROV for my project in Mauritius.
The Maritime Archaeological Project of Mauritius (MMAP) aims to give voice to the precious underwater cultural heritage (UCH) of this island which has about 800 wrecks. For this mission, the goal was to map a famous site, the wreck of Le Sirius sunk during the battle of the Grand Port battle through geophysical survey. Check here some historical info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMSSirius(1797)

Thanks again Ocean by design class for this incredible opportunity

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This weekend, our team went on a field trip to Half-Moon Bay to learn more about the benefits of selling seafood directly to customers. We learned that an app, FishLine, is currently in use and highly preferred by fishermen and is used to sell directly to consumers. Some of the important issues mentioned by the fishers were about regulations and how the law enforcement agency does not actively engage fishers in decision-making. This is something we have seen in Hawaii as well and were interested in the linkage. This trip was highly beneficial to assess our current tech and policy prototypes!

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Glad it was an insightful trip!

Over the weekend, the Coralistas got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cal Academy of Sciences from Dive Safety Officer Mark Lane. We saw their facilities for “creating new water,” the dive locker, and the incredible network of pipes, tanks, and folks needed to keep the exhibits running. Above the CAS is Renzo Piano’s iconic living roof, an ideal model of how technology can serve sustainability in an engaging, beautiful way. Thank you to Mark Lane for the tour, Erika for the intro, and the CAS for an amazing visit!

-Grant, Shikha, and Andrea

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This weekend, I watched David Lang's TED talk on preserving our oceans like national parks. He called for universal engagement on the issue of conservation. We are engaged, and now we are trying to engage in engaging others.

Our team, Kelp-ing Hands, is partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to tackle the issue of climate change. The issue is clearly huge, but our hope is to influence people to adopt environmentally-conscious behaviors. The aquarium's visitors are a community of people who already care about the ocean. Our tech and policy prototypes aim to influence these ocean-lovers to take ocean-friendly actions every day. Now, we are beginning to think about an experience prototype that would have similar influence on aquarium visitors. Our experience prototype would take the form of a scavenger hunt exhibit. What we have so far is that there would be a manmade beach on one side of the exhibit, and sea level rise would be a barometer for the user’s progress through the exhibit. In order to navigate the exhibit, users would find solutions to problems relating to the environment presented to them, and “sea level” would rise or fall in response. This idea is still in development, and we’re excited to see where this rabbit hole leads!

Our policy prototype, Race to Zero-Waste, tackles the question: “How might we enable the MBA to influence visitors’ behavior to be more sustainable through new aquarium policies?” As the aquarium itself already strives for sustainable practices, a further goal to strive for is influencing visitors’ behaviors. Our policy prototype would enforce a ban on all single-use plastics in aquarium facilities. The aquarium would implement a "sustainability checkpoint" visitors must pass through before entering, and there would be efforts to move toward a plastic-free gift shop. Additionally, the aquarium would go paperless under this policy. Digital information kiosks and a MBA app would help visitors navigate the aquarium.

Some feedback we received on this policy is that it would increase the length of lines to enter the aquarium, might not impact visitors’ behaviors prior to coming to the aquarium, can make visitors angry, and will cause an accumulation of underused single-used plastics. People who we tested our prototype ideas on liked that this unique policy had clear intentions, demonstrated a dedication to sustainability, and achieves the intended educational impact. A suggestion we received would be providing sustainable behavior alternatives at the checkpoint. Another tweak to this policy would be providing lockers for temporary storage of single-use plastics for users to collect upon leaving the aquarium. With this change, the point about the aquarium’s stance on single-use plastics would still be made; however, visitors do not throw out plastic bottles before finishing them.

Our emerging tech prototype, DiVR, is a virtual reality experience intended to help the user visualize how their daily choices impact the ocean and the environment as a whole. The experience is relevant for both of our identified users, Owen and Allie. Owen is a 12-yr old boy who is learning about climate change in school. Allie is a 22-yr old college student who cares about the environment but has other things to worry about and does not live particularly sustainably. DiVR is modeled after a “Choose Your Own Adventure” storyline. This prototype tackles the question: “How might we use VR to expose aquarium-goers to the wonders of the natural world, which are impacted by their everyday choices?”

Some constructive criticism we received is that excitement over VR and limited number of devices would create lines, VR depictions of suffering marine animals or dead reefs creates feelings of guilt, and there is increased management required on the part of the aquarium to facilitate proper use and prevent theft. Some positive feedback we got is that such VR experiences inspire powerful emotions, catch the attention of younger kids, show realistic representations of life underwater, and are powerful pedagogical tools. We could address this feedback by further developing the storyline, providing more personal choices, more choices in general, and providing relevant solutions to harmful behaviors.

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Having mostly focused on individual fishermen up to this point, team Octo-Thinking began discussing how we could make our design more inclusive to other voices in the communities we are serving that are currently not being heard. We believe that some of the primary factors we haven't considered are gender, language, and ageism. Here's a bit on each of them!

Gender: Prior to colonization, Hawaii was largely a matriarchal society, which radically changed when colonization occurred.

Language: Specifically related to fishing and fishing practices, much of the native Hawaiian language cannot be directly translated into English, leading to either intentional or unintentional misunderstandings between native fisherman and lawmakers.

Ageism: Many of the small-scale fishermen in Hawaiian communities are getting older, potentially even aging out of the trade. With the population aging, there is a severe risk of traditional fishing practices going away as well.

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In The Field

Oceans by Design students are prototyping experiences this week, and some have taken the Trident for a spin in the pool. Produced some compelling footage....


In class this week, the Ocean Ragers thought about designing for inclusivity in a really thoughtful series of exercises. We started by talking about a recent Guardian article called "The deadly truth about a world built for men - from stab vests to car crashes" (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/feb/23/truth-world-built-for-men-car-crashes) about how women have traditionally been left out of design. Did you know that more women die in car accidents because crash test dummies were modeled off men? I personally found this article really engaging and have since shared it with many women in my life.

After discussing the article, we selected three lenses representing often excluded user groups to discuss in the context of our project: (1) economic oppression, (2) education level, and (3) race/ethnicity. For each of these groups we answered a series of questions: What are some of the concerns of people from this group? what are ways in which these groups may be unintentionally excluded from design? How could you mitigate exclusion in your design?

We had a few interesting ideas emerge from this exercise that we are excited about. The first was to simplify simplify simplify and use accessible language. While the power of our prototypes so far is in amassing and digesting big data, the user experience flow can be extremely simple, and then allow for deeper dives into this data for those who desire it. The second was around including an affordability index in our data set, and then being sure to highlight affordable seafood options. It would be interesting to track pricing over time and include alerts like "now is a good time to buy!" The third takeaway is around considering a broader set of value systems around sustainability. Being "green" can't be a top priority for everyone, so how can we design our solution to solve problems around IUU fishing even for those for whom it is not a priority?

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This week, team ocean ragers has been focused on drafting policies that would make seafood purchasing far more traceable, trustworthy, and sustainable. We have been drafting a policy that would incorporate blockchain technology along with satellite data from sources like SkyTruth to try and make the seafood supply chain more transparent. The goal is to have all seafood be traceable up to the point of origin and to define baseline regulations to standardize seafood sourcing. Our drafted policy would hopefully make it easier for suppliers and wholesalers to determine if the seafood they are purchasing was sustainably caught thereby making the seafood then available at markets 100% sustainable. We will be prototyping the policy in the field and on campus this weekend!


Though the Coralistas were just observers to this activity, one of the highlights of the week was getting a crash-course on blockchain technology. Through using a tape network to exchange Post-its between participants at the ends (pictured above), we explored the main theme of centralization versus decentralization (one of the key benefits of blockchain) when it comes to making transactions and sharing information. We are wondering how a "database" where people can see each other's interactions can support coral conservation, maybe in keeping track of who is doing conservation work already. We are excited to keep this in the back of our minds as we prototype our "policy idea" (a tourist tax to support conservation efforts) to students/potential Puerto Rico tourists.


Team Kelp-ing Hands has been hard at work prototyping policies that might help the Monterey Bay Aquarium inspire others to reduce their footprint. So far, we've come up with policy ideas including making the aquarium a single use plastic-free facility, shifting from non-recyclable glossed information pamphlets to recyclable paper or paperless digital information kiosks, and implementing a "sustainability checkpoint" visitors have to pass through when entering the aquarium.

The image below is a picture of Holly, one of our teammates, reflecting on how our generation has been gifted with this powerful problem of climate change which brings meaning to our lives as we try to fix it!


Update from the Ocean Ragers!

This past week was all about beginning the prototyping process: collating all of our data from the last five weeks and brainstorming solutions for tackling the hurdles around sustainable seafood. Last Tuesday we talked about all kinds of “emerging tech” and the different applications they could be used for to tackle IUU fishing. Some of the ideas that came out of this session were creative to the point of lunacy- from microchipping tunas to goggles that track your seafood consumption- but everything steered towards our ongoing theme of increasing traceability and trust in the seafood supply chain and empowering users to make sustainable seafood choices. Our first prototype proposes a system where seafood can be tracked from its port of origin (i.e. a QR code tag that gives the species, location, date, vessel, and gear type for where and when the fish was caught) and a corresponding database which cross references your fish’s information with sustainability guides (like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and Marine Stewardship Council Certification) and Skytruth vessel tracking information (https://skytruth.org/mapping-global-fishing/). This app will provide seafood buyers with a simple and easy to interpret recommendations on purchasing choices that is based on all of the available data for a given fish. Over the holiday weekend we tested our prototype in the field on community members here at Stanford and received excellent feedback on ways to improve our next iteration!


Our group, Octo-thinking, has decided to work on finding a solution to address IUU fishing in small scale fisheries on Kauai island in Hawaii. It was exciting to share our "How might we" question with the whole class and distinguished guests during Ocean Review 1 in Week 4. We would like to find a way of promoting effective communication between traditional Hawaiian communities and government authorities. The main feedback we have from community leaders and fishers is that government should stay out of making regulations but lean into implementation of community approved activities. The feedback session was fantastic! This Tuesday, we also brainstormed on a range of tech solutions that could potentially help to address this problem.

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This week, the Coralistas focused on learning about emerging technologies and applying them to issues of reef conservation. From cameras that can sense behaviors and species around the reefs to genetically modifying coral to a crowdsourcing platform of images that uses machine learning to identify healthy corals, we really had fun playing with new concepts. This weekend, we are hoping to test our prototype "My Coral Blue" (a dashboard of local actions for users to take to protect reefs in San Juan) with people around us and in our network of users - we are excited to see how people feel!


Hey guys! Last week, we had the opportunity to present our design review of marine pollution to our instructors, our class and a group of various ocean experts. Our design review focused on the use of plastic on Stanford's campus and the role of an average student. From our interview with Julie Muir, head of Stanford's waste management, we were pretty astonished to learn how much plastic is not actually recycled either due to food contamination or low demand from the recycling business. Furthermore, the recent Chinese waste ban presents another obstacle as it places an onus on the US to figure out our plastic waste. We presented these findings to the class and suggested that our system is at fault. Even if our user, the average student at Stanford, is environmentally conscious and recycles their trash, there is a good chance their plastic ends up in a place like the ocean.

We received great feedback on our direction and were encouraged to pursue it further. Some pointed us to existing models that seek to reduce plastic use and others pointed us to policies put in place by cities and organizations that are eliminating plastic. While much of the focus was on redesigning systems, an important piece of feedback was to not forget the role of the Stanford student. We are excited to conduct more research on existing efforts to decrease plastic consumption, whether that be looking into plastic alternatives or model systems as we move into prototyping.

  • OceanWise *Below are some photos from our visit to Stanford's waste management center
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In The Field

Super interesting session that combined lateral and design thinking with big picture, next-gen emerging technology brainstorms! Our group thoroughly enjoyed - and found incredibly helpful - the process of spitballing our "How Might We" question relating to microplastics and bringing in layers of technologies of the (not so distant) future - in particular AI, A/R, V/R, and IoT. We look forward to integrating this work in our next design brief.


Last Tuesday, we had the chance to present our user, process, and how might we question to our class, instructors, and a group of experts working in a range of fields related to our topic. Receiving their feedback was incredibly helpful, and helped us both refine our how might we question and slightly alter the direction we were going in with our project. Some pertinent questions that were raised were: (Why) is sustainable fish more expensive (i.e. is the price differential real of made-up)? Why is 1/3 of fish in the U.S. mislabeled and are there certain places (stores, regions etc.) that are more prone to this problem? Who should have the responsibility to be informed – the consumer, the store, or the supplier? Is this a labeling problem or a traceability problem or both? What about cases in which the data about sustainability/IUU fishing coming into the system is wrong?

While we had thought about most of these questions before, we are excited to do more deep research into each of them, in order to not only understand our users and stakeholders but also the political, economic, social, and historic contexts that shape our pain points and will inform out solution. We also want to do research into the successes and failures and overall progression of “the organic movement” in order to better envision how seafood consumption might change over time. Some important themes that emerged from our discussion with fellow students as well as experts in the field were: trust, choice editing, traceability, complexity (i.e. acknowledging the myriad factors that play into the problem we are seeking to address), channeling people’s emotions and empathy and harnessing significant decision-making moments in our user’s or enablers’ daily lives.

Overall, we are grateful for this feedback, and tremendously excited to see where these next few weeks take us! – Ocean Rangers

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You never know what will happen when you step into Studio 2. Today it was almost magical. We spent a lot of the class going over the feedback from our presentations on Tuesday, but in the end we were asked to download the google street view app. And then we got access to incredible sites all over the world. Seriously, try it out. We were transported to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and with the use of some cardboard goggles, everything we stared at seemed way more realistic. Not everyone gets to teleport somewhere they have never been to in the middle of class. What's most exciting, is that we will get to learn about places that are important to each other next week. It is crazy how accessible virtual reality can be, and even more crazy to put the pictures up to your eyes. Look below to get a taste of what we did.

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In The Field

Hi from Kauai! Today we learned more about the needs of traditional fishing communities. We talked with Makaala Kaaumoana, one of the most vocal and active community leaders in Hanalei, about the tensions between the government and traditional fishing practices. One of the main takeaways is - the government should let communities set the policies and the government should only help in the enforcement. Here is a photo of the beautiful Poipu beach nearby.

Way to get waaay out into the field:)


By Alex (my team mate)
After our first design review, our team analyzed the large amount of feedback given by the visiting experts that came in to listen to our presentations. Our how might we question, as presented in our presentation, is currently “How might we better design the idea of a research expedition.” We have talked to researchers to get their side of the question, but we now are going to turn our focus onto the local researcher point of view in order to fully represent both sides interests accurately. Currently, we are thinking of talking to researchers in Palau, and also maybe to researchers in the Galapagos and Curacao, where we have connections. In class on Thursday, we brainstormed these ideas and responded to other feedback by the audience, which gave us insight as to how we could see the issue from an alternate point of view. Additionally, we mapped out potential ways in which we could see the issue from a different perspective, such as how to approach the question in order to analyze gender equality issues as well as from the point of view of a child. We were also excited to be able to try out using virtual reality with equipment given by the D. School! Our assignment for Tuesday is to capture a favorite place on this virtual reality software which will be fun to present.


Meet the wonderfully kind, curiousity-filled, and creatively-charged group: Macrosolutions for Microplastics!!

We are a global group of grad students (say that three times fast...) hailing from around the world, and our interests and experiences are equally as varied:

Maya (or MiniMy, or MyMyG, or GetGranit) Granit hails from NYC and Israel and has a background in chocolate making, baking, selling, and championing of the people who farm the beans behind the bars. Maya loves to surf and, you guessed it, share her love for chocolate (and social entrepreneurship) with the world.

Steinunn (or SteiStei, or SGtoTheT) Gudmundsdottir grew up along the pristine coastlines and water bodies surrounding Iceland, and is passionate about using her background in law to push forward environmental conservation efforts and help heal the oceans. Steinnun loves being outside, helping others, and showing Iceland to all who come through!

Reka (or Rey, or Sting Rey) is a Hungarian native and Economics whiz, currently pursuing a PhD in the field here at Stanford. Reka has pursued numerous social and philanthropic endeavors and even founded her own non-profit back home. Rey is an avid outdoor enthusiast and when she's not helping others, you can find her in the water, on a trail, or setting up a tent!

Mike (Magic Mike, Mikey Lew, LewBega) grew up in Santa Barbara, California on the beach and along the ocean, and enjoys doing anything and everything outside. He's most excited about working on big ideas and meeting the people behind them, and is most passionate about startups and any and all entrepreneurial activities. If he's not doing that stuff, he's likely playing squash or couch surfing somewhere new!

We look forward to moving ahead on our design brief and incorporating all of the helpful guidance and feedback from yesterday alongside it.

-Team Macrosolutions for Microplastics

In The Field

A quick snapshot of our squad after the first design brief - what a day! Super exciting to put together our thoughts, ideas, and early research into an interactive medium. We found using physical props, engaging the audience in real time, and role-playing clear character traits tied to our user types made for a productive brief. The audience was filled with a mix of students, professors, field researchers, scientists, and other 'real world' heroes who are dedicated to solving real environmental issues like marine pollution, and the feedback was both incredibly helpful and truly candid. We're looking forward to taking it with us as we move toward next steps in the design process.


Hi everyone, come and know our team: Octo-thinking
We all believe that IUU is an important issue to address and our current area of interest are small scale fisheries in the Pacific SIDS

Hi, I am Josheena and I am second year PhD student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, working on marine governance in the Western Indian Ocean. My research interests are adaptive management of Marine Protected Areas, stakeholder engagement, and the valorization of natural and cultural heritage in Marine Spatial Planning. Currently, my work is focused on understanding the social values associated with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and whether different types of MPAs are adequately protecting biodiversity and providing both social and ecological benefits, that are the basis of their creation.

Sammy Hey there! My name is Sammy, I’m planning to study CS and Econ, with a bit of chemistry mixed in. I’m really loyal to my home in rural Maine where a lot of my family works in the lobster industry. I spent a lot of time as a kid on the water lobstering. My interests are guided by a desire to create sustainable development where I come from, which is why I’m really psyched to be exploring sustainable fishing practices. On campus, I play drums in the Stanford band, play Ultimate Frisbee, tutor a few students from East Palo Alto, and host a weekly podcast on KZSU 90.1 called “Really, Bro?”

Aloha my Name is Jesse. I am studying environmental systems engineering with a focus on coastal processes. I would also like to integrate the traditional culture of sustainability of my home, Hawai’i, into my engineering studies. I grew up participating in many traditional land and ocean activities such as surfing, fishing, hiking, sailing, outrigger canoe paddling and diving. In addition to my connection with the ‘aina through these activities, I also participated in research and volunteer projects having to do with native Hawaiian plants, birds, coral and algae and am very excited to continue this into the field of fishing. Connecting traditional knowledge that Pacific Islanders used to live sustainably for centuries, to cutting edge scientific research, and creative ways of thinking about modern social structures is what will allow us to develop multifaceted solutions to all of the complex problems we are facing today, such as the unsustainable fishing practices we are targeting in our project.

Hi! I am Divyanka, a second-year MBA student at Stanford GSB. Prior to business school, I worked at an economic think tank, Locus Analytics, where I built financial planning tools for small business owners in emerging markets. My focus has been on India and Cameroon, and have worked within multiple industries including textiles and cocoa farming. After the GSB, I will be joining McKinsey in their SF office. I am originally from India and grew up joining my dad, a wildlife conservationist, on his inspections in national parks. I have been involved in conservation efforts like tiger censuses and understanding elephant migration patterns my whole life and am excited to now learn more about ocean conservation. In particular, I care a lot about the communities that rely on fishing and am interested in learning about potential solutions to IUU fishing that keep these communities’ interests in mind.

Ciao, my name is Stefania and I am a maritime archaeologist and current PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford. I specialize on the use of 3D visualizations, based on gaming technology, as a tool for the enhancement and dissemination of maritime heritage. Above all, my passion is to dive and to dig shipwrecks underwater, because I am broadly interested in understanding how the ship is a vehicle of culture contact and how the study of the artefacts found in the shipwreck can give us information on life at the ocean and the relationships on-board.
I am also involved in developing the Marine Spatial Plan for Mauritius, developing ways to integrate maritime heritage into the Blue Economy mandate and contribute to resilience in Small Island Developing States.


What an incredible team!

Quick Update post from the Ocean Ragers:

Last week we had to work towards deciding on a specific user or customer that we wanted to design for. We initially narrowed down our search to Dara (the Stanford Food Services exec), David Kinch (a 3-star Michelin chef), and Peter (Catherine's brother). We decided on Peter.

Peter is a 29 year old law student, who has a young family. He is a former farmer and chef who is passionate about sustainable farming, and who is very particular about his "land animal" consumption. However, Peter is frustrated because its very hard for him to know if the fish he buys is legally caught and sustainable. We started wondering why there wasn't enough reliable and trustworthy sources of information, like the USDA, who grade beef

The picture below is of the Ragers (well, three of them) explaining to our class what our process was for deciding on peter, and why we thought he'd be a good person to design for. There's also a picture of our team logo!

Rage On!

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This week, the Coralistas worked to articulate how best the design team could serve the needs of our user, Alberto Marti, a dive shop owner and ocean enthusiast from Puerto Rico. He embodies the adventurous ethos and open positivity of a citizen scientist, but he struggles with a lack of direction on climate issues. Below is a picture of his shop in San Juan. After a long session of brainstorming, we’re super excited to present more about him in Tuesday’s Design Review. We hope to empower citizen scientists in Puerto Rico and beyond to start maintaining corals in their own communities!

In The Field

Hello! Meet The Kelping Hands!

Hi, I'm Sarah! I’m a graduate student studying Mechanical Engineering. I grew up in the Midwest far from the water, but I have always had an interest in the ocean. I studied Ocean Engineering at MIT and have pursued different forms of ocean robotics since then. I am excited to expand my understanding of ocean issues by applying design thinking this quarter!

Hiyah! My name is Greyson and I am currently a Sophomore studying Earth Systems | Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate. I love watching sunsets and listening to the sound of the waves. In my freetime I climb, run and garden. I am from a small rural town in North Carolina called Bunn and grew up on a small lake. This blossomed my interest in water and I eventually found my way to the sea. Throughout the rest of the this amazing class, I hope to learn more about how solutions are thought through and developed and I am excited to learn more about the ocean and its future.

Hiya! I’m Chloe! I’m an Environmental Systems Engineering major with an Urban Focus. I’m particularly interested in coastal cities like my hometown, New York City, and how we can design them to be more resilient in the face of climate change. I spent this past summer in Monterey, doing research at Hopkins Marine Station on free-floating environmental DNA in beach water that can be used to non-invasively track white sharks. I’m passionate about preserving ocean ecosystems because I fell in love with the ocean while snorkeling at night at a young age when I saw a parrotfish sleeping in a mucus bubble of its own creation. Life under the ocean captivated me because it’s so different from anything I’d ever seen before. Now, I’m a Rescue diver, but I hope to earn my Divemaster certification very soon!

Hey! My name is Jessie, I’m from Marin County, CA, and I'm majoring in Human Biology with a concentration in human-ocean/environmental interactions. I am incredibly passionate about encouraging and empowering others to get involved with local environmental movements. I’ve completed research on quantifying microplastics in pelagic fish of the Bahamas’ Exuma Sound and surveys on fish populations and reef health for Belizean Fisheries. Living intimately with these coastal environments and local communities has opened my eyes to the immense amounts of love that exist for our oceans. I am stoked to be working with such a diverse team of Kelp-ing Hands on facing climate change related issues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and eager to see where this 10 week voyage will take us!

My name is Holly and I am incredibly excited to be working on a problem that is so tied to things I believe in! I am studying Ocean Engineering -- similar to Mechanical Engineering but with a focus on how to solve problems in the ocean. I am from Marion, MA, a small town near Cape Cod. I grew up sailing, diving, and kitesurfing, and I always lived within sight of the ocean. I spent a year living on a sailboat when I was fourteen, which sparked a conscious passion for everything drenched in saltwater. Since then, I have sailed across oceans, studied Elkhorn coral bleaching in the Virgin Islands, investigated seagrass effects on acidification in Palau, and built an autonomous surface vehicle to make high precision bathymetric maps. In school, I thrive when I have a big project -- which can be metalworking, rapid additive prototyping, CAD, or coding. I am so excited to be onboard with the Monterey Bay Aquarium for this newest challenge!

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Hello Everyone! I though it was about time you met our wonderful group, The Coralistas. We are working on issues related to climate change, more specifically on how it relates to reefs around our world. Keep reading to learn more about who we are!

Hi! I’m Grant, a Freshman from New York City passionate about the ways society can learn to live with rising oceans. Before coming to Stanford, I did research at NYU on technologies and infrastructure improvements that can make New York’s food grid more resilient to extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy. I am beyond excited to be a Coralista and get to work on our prototype!

Hey y’all! My name is Shikha, and I’m an Environmental Systems Engineering major from central California. Growing up in a fairly “unsustainable” community dependent on oil production, I saw firsthand both the need for more sustainable infrastructure but also the complex factors that make it so difficult to adapt to climate threats. I am really interested in global action on sustainability issues, innovation through cities, and social impact overall. I am excited to dive into the oceans and empathize with all it offers to the world.

Hello! My name is Andrea and I am from the lovely San Juan, Puerto Rico. I am currently an Earth Systems major studying the Oceans and Atmosphere track, and I have been an avid scuba diver for just over a decade. I am really interested in the role citizen science and community involvement can have on collecting more information about our natural places, and how this can be used to improve research and aid conservation efforts. I want to help work with others to empower them to take care of their homes, and I cannot wait to think and work with my group to begin to tackle such important issues.

Thank you for reading, you will hear more from us soon!

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In The Field

The Ocean Ragers Team recently completed our first set of interviews relating to our project on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The people we interviewed were:

Dara S., a lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Earth Systems, and also the Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Stanford Dining Sustainable Food Program Manager. In this role, Dara generates sustainability solutions across R&DE Stanford Dining through collaborating with students, faculty and staff.

Annie B., the André Hoffmann Fellow at The Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford. Annie specializes in Environmental Law and Policy, Marine Technology, and Science Communication.

Eric H., who is the Research Development Manager at the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. He helps decision makers plan for a changing ecosystems by advising them on coastal adaptation strategies based in the preservation of natural features. He is the bridge between the science/research world and the people who are trying to implement solutions.

Kenneth K., who created TraSeable Solutions Pte Ltd in 2017 with his wife. TraSeable focuses on the traceability of seafood products originating in the Pacific, using digital technology that is decentralized and verifiable, and that can record transactions. Utilizing blockchain technology, RFID tags and QR code tags, it creates a database that shows a history of transactions on each particular fish.

Sala T., who serves as Second Secretary with Fiji's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, and is well verses in the issues of IUU fishing and how they impact small island nations such as Fiji.

In preparation for these interviews, the Ragers conducted background research on the interviewees, and prepared specific questions for each person which related to their area of expertise, and that we thought would be useful for us as we start developing our project. As a basis for putting together specific questions (and before we know much about the interviewees), we ideated together (we call it “Raging” !), and came up with a number of questions that could form the basis of more specific questions. (See picture below!)

We also had the opportunity to interview some “friends and family”, some with a lot of knowledge about this issue and some more on the pure ‘consumer’ side of the issue. We summarized the feedback we got from these folks, and started doing some basic grouping by topic or theme. (See picture below again!)

We have quite a number more interviews to do, and also need to synthesize the feedback we got from all of our interviewees in one place. Please follow us as we go through this process and do our best to empathize with other people who care deeply about IUU fishing, and as our project begins to take shape!

Rage on!!

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In our last class meeting, we did an exercise where each team had to develop a board game based on our design project. My team (the Ocean Ragers, focused on IUU fishing) quickly converged on a Chutes and Ladders inspired game in which players are racing to cross the finish line first. Players (chefs in our game!) are rewarded for sustainable seafood purchasing behaviors and punished the opposite. For example, players could land on a space that read “you asked your local fisherman about their fishing practices before signing a contract” and would be able to advance forward extra spaces by moving up a ladder. Or players could land on a space reading “you lied about where you bought your fish” and would slide backwards down a chute. You can see some photos of our game below!
I really enjoyed this exercise for a few reasons: • It was fun! • It was a great introduction to prototyping exercises (which I’m sure we have many more of coming our way over the course of the next few weeks). It forced us to use our hands to build something with the eclectic collection of supplies provided. • It was a great opportunity for our team to bond. We worked together really collaboratively (lots of “yes and!”) which was great practice for the types of behaviors we will want to model with each other as we dive deeper into our project • Finally, Eric from COS shared some really cool examples of ways that games that have been used in the real world to engage stakeholders! See Game of Floods from Marin County or Disaster Mitigation from Red Cross, Red Crescent for examples

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We are the Ocean Ragers and we are so excited to be starting our journey into the world of IUU fishing! We thought we would start by introducing ourselves:

CJ Bernstein: Hi! I’m CJ Bernstein and I’m a first year MBA student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Prior to Stanford I worked as a management consultant at Bain & Company and on the strategy team at X (formerly Google X). Here is a photo of me in Channel Islands National Park enjoying our beautiful ocean coastlines - I’m really excited to be part of the Oceans by Design class and to learn more about how we can protect spaces and ecosystems like this one.

Natalie Arnoldi: My name is Natalie Arnoldi and I’m a first year PhD student in marine ecology here at Stanford University. I am interested in studying how big ocean predators, like sharks and tunas, create linkages between coastal and open ocean habitats, why this connectivity is important for maintaining healthy and resilient ecosystems, and how these interactions change across gradients of human disturbance. In addition to being a grad student, I am also an artist- this photo is of me standing in front of a painting I made of a great white shark that me an my colleagues tagged off of Año Nuevo Island. I am excited to be part of this interdisciplinary team in the Oceans by Design class and can’t wait to see what creative ideas we come up with to tackle the issue of IUU fishing!

Catherine Beck: My name is Catherine Beck and I am a first year undergraduate student at Stanford. I am a prospective Earth Systems major and am interested in studying sustainable urban development and food security. Focusing in on illegal fishing is important in the field of food security––as our population grows we will demand more protein sources which will include fish. I am thrilled to be a part of the Ocean Ragers team in Oceans by Design this quarter.

Goran Puljic: Hi, my name is Goran Puljic, and I’m a continuing DCI Fellow at Stanford University. The Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI) program is a relatively new one, and it allows ‘experienced’ people who have already had a 30-ish year career to return to University and take classes amongst the ‘regular’ students. The idea is for us to learn new skills, get re-engaged with learning, and perhaps have a late life ‘pivot’ into a new field. I feel privileged to be in this environment! I was in finance and asset management, and am looking at “repurposing” myself in the renewable energy field. In terms of the Ocean - I simply need it to live! It feeds my soul, and I spend much of my leisure time from the spring to the fall either sailing or fishing off the northeast coast of the US, so the issue of IUU fishing is a very personal one.

Nahla: Hi! My name is Nahla Achi, and I a senior majoring in International Relations and minoring in Human Rights and Human Biology at Stanford University. I am most passionate about the intersection of humans and nature, and, specifically, about human rights and environmental issues pertaining to climate change and international waters. The ocean is where I am happiest, and I love both studying it and being in it (below: joyful me after leading students for their Underwater Naturalist Specialty dive off the Coast of Nevis). I already love being part of this interdisciplinary, Ocean Ragers team, and I cannot wait to further explore the issue of IUU fishing and potential solutions to it over the next two months!


Thank you for the awesome intros!! 💙

Eva, McKinley, Sarah and I spent the last class analyzing methods of research. More specifically, we read papers and evaluated how authors incorporated quantitative versus qualitative research into their findings. It got us thinking about our own research and served as a catalyst for a brainstorming session on our topic: marine pollution. Our group’s focus is on pollution in the Bay Area so we discussed potential users for our project and ways in which we can gather research on them. Interviews from a Stanford undergrad, a JSK Journalist fellow and David Kelley from the d.school served as a starting point for discussion. More research and interviews will need to be conducted in order to navigate the ambiguity we currently face, but we are excited for the opportunity! Finally, we noted the difficulty of changing the lifestyle of individuals and the problems that arise from trying to alter them. This was brought up in one of the articles provided, which stated that scientists should focus more on human behaviors rather than parsing the scientific numbers. It seems that most people are aware of the human impact on the environment, yet, we do not do enough to lessen our footprint.


Nice research! (And yes, sewage IS huge and more tiny critters IS bad!) Did you think these were issues before?

Reka, Steinunn, Maya and I were busy brainstorming as today's session wrapped up, but took a pause to bring things "high level" and zoom out - focusing on the I Like / I Wish / I Wonder. In addition to recapping the general state of things, we used the activity to touch on how we feel about this hazy, less concrete and more nebulous process that comes before we drill down on who the user will be for our project. While challenging to be in this uncertainty, we're embracing the unknown context and aim to push forward with additional interviews that we hope will serve as compelling and diverse viewpoints to consider in the early stages of our design process.

In The Field

Time for some research! We read three very interesting papers about coral reefs today and discussed them as a group. The theme? STEM isn't the only way to approach climate issues.

The paper we spent the most time discussing analyzing, "Bright spots among the world's coral reefs" (https://www.nature.com/articles/nature18607), uses a technique often used in human health and rural development called a bright spot analysis.

The paper predicts the health of 2,500 reefs worldwide and uses a model based on 18 statistics (extent of fishing, local human populations, size of tourism industry, etc.) to estimate the health of each reef. This estimate is then compared to the actual health of the reef, and those that are much healthier than we expected are called "Bright Spots".

What this means is that these mysteriously healthy reefs have a secret. Something we forgot to account for that's allowing them to thrive in an environment where they should be struggling.

Our guess, as well as the paper's, is that the secret lies in the culture of the communities protecting these reefs. What can these societies teach us about taking care of nature?

It's easy to feel like those of us in the Western world have all the answers, and that the challenge is simply to go out into the world and implement our ideas. However, it's moments like today that teach us the importance of humility.


Love the moral of the story:)


Today our OceansbyDesign students learned more about the three main ocean issues: Marine Pollution, Climate Change, and Illegal Fishing by interviewing some experts from the field!
They interviewed visitors from the Exploratorium, Hopkins Marine Station, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Fiji Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Stanford Dining, World Economic Forum, Traseable Solutions, Stanford Sustainability, PSSI Recycling, the California Academy of Sciences, the Woods Institute, and the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions.

Thank you to all of our visitors!

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Great day everybody. The visitors infused a lot of knowledge and inspiration!

In The Field

Today we focused on empathy, a crucial facet of design thinking. How can we design for a user if we don't understand them? We also prepared to interview our project partners and advisors, who we will host at the d.school on Thursday.

To kick off the class, we watched a beautiful and provocative video of two women, both from island nations, reciting a poem that expresses their realities under climate change. Students reflected on the story of these women, as well as the delivery and impact of the poem. ... ... How does this video make you feel?

We were making waves last Thursday at the dschool just before we dove into preliminary framing around our three ocean issues. Our class happens in the afternoon, so we keep people moving to keep the energy flowing. Here's a "fish's eye view" of our session!

After the shipwreck, we were all in the water! The Queen of the ocean, Yemanjá (portrayed by the amazing Aleta Hayes), guided us to be calm and swim together to get through this disaster! We spent about an hour learning to swim and 'groove' with each other.
Why start a class about the ocean like that? We wanted to create a space where people are comfortable and happy working with each other. By dancing and swimming together we were learning not to be afraid of taking risks. We also learned about leading and following, and rotating roles within groups. Students seemed to love the session. Our Aleta-Yemanjá left us all inspired to start the quarter!

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Our cruise ship has run aground!!!
WHERE'S THE CAPTAIN????????? And we were just about to practice the waltz and play shuffleboard...

Oceans by Design officially launched it's expedition at the d.school yesterday. The team were waved off by Stanford's d.school and Center for Ocean Solutions staff. The class embarks on a mission to address three major oceans issues, i.e., marine pollution, climate change and illegal fishing.

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Bon Voyage! Our expedition started today! Stay tuned for some photos from our send-off!


What a launch!! 💙💙💙


It's so cozy and quiet here at the d.school over winter break. Meanwhile, the expedition leaders (aka teaching team) are hurriedly gathering the necessary supplies for a successful launch on January 8th...

Watch this space!

Expedition Background

This course aims to combine marine science and policy with human-centered design thinking to address crucial ocean issues (specifically climate change, marine pollution, and overfishing). The class is made up of fellows, graduate students, and undergrads from departments throughout Stanford (like engineering, earth sciences, law, business, and humanities) and will be led by a multidisciplinary and international teaching team.

amazing! I'd love to participate in such an initiative!! Is there any possibility to join as an external open explorer? TY

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