Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey


The Colloquium centers around the understanding of how our brains filter the world, deploy cognitive heuristics and biases, and the interplay between neurochemistry, perception, and decision-making.

The World Bank’s Executive Directors believe that standard policy tools are not always effective; many remaining development challenges may require alternative understandings of human behavior; and recent findings from across the social sciences provide ideas for expanding policymakers’ toolkits based on these alternative understandings.

This is creating new and unknown frontiers at the intersection of biology, chemistry, psychology, objectivity, analytics, data, and human behavior. Dan Kahnemann’s Thinking Fast, and Slow was a benchmark publication in the emerging, interdisciplinary field. Beyond this Nobel Prize winner’s work is an important body of pracademics related to behavioral economics, behavior change communication, long-standing work on satisficing and mental models, and hard science research into brain chemistry which is troubling the distinctions between brain and mind.

Our Spring Colloquium 2016 will inquire into this new interdisciplinary arena, pursuing questions about how policy, programs, enterprises, and higher education itself needs to be rethought.

  • Registration: Sign-ups are done via BannerWeb 
  • Dates: February 4-May 12, 2016 (Thursdays, 6pm-8:50pm)
  • Location: McGowan 102

2016 Featured Speakers

Hersh Shefrin

Hersh Shefrin, Mario Belotti Chair in the Department of Finance at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business

Date: February 11, 2016

Professor Shefrin is a pioneer of behavioral finance. His latest book, "Behavioral Risk Management," argues that major disasters in the last fifteen years (the BP oil spill, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the global financial crisis) have psychological pitfalls at their root. The book illustrates a series of do's and don'ts for addressing psychological issues in risk management.

Peter Whybrow

Peter C. Whybrow, MD., Neuroscientist and Psychiatrist

Date: February 25, 2016

Dr. Whybrow's book, "American Mania: When More Is Not Enough," explores stress, obesity, anxiety, and time from a neuroscience and behavioral perspective. His new book, "The Well-Tuned Brain," argues that the human brain is only marginally adapted to the complexity of the problems we must now face together on a global scale. The problem of our long-term survival as a species, in other words, is intimately linked to the evolution of our brains, and the priority that evolutionary processes place on short-term survival.  

Varun Garun

Varun Gauri, Ph.D., The World Bank’s Head of the Global Insights Initiative (GINI) and Senior Economist, Development Research Group.

Date: March 31, 2016

Dr. Gauri is the Head of the Global Insights Initiative (GINI) and Senior Economist with the Development Research Group of the World Bank. His current research addresses three themes: 1) how to use behavioral insights to enhance development policy, 2) when public agencies comply with human rights orders, and 3) why individuals support public goods. Dr. Gauri was the Co-Director of the "World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior." He serves on the editorial boards of the journals "Behavioral Public Policy and Health and Human Rights," "The World Economic Forum Council on Behavior," "The Advisory Board of Academics Stand Against Poverty," and is a member of the RSA (London).

Janice Stein

Janice Stein, Founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto 

Date: April 14, 2016

Stein is the Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management in the Department of Political Science and was the founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario. Stein's most recent publications include "Networks of Knowledge: Innovation in International Learning (2000)," "The Cult of Efficiency" (2001), and "Street Protests and Fantasy Parks" (2001). She is a contributor to "Canada by Picasso" (2006) and the co-author of "The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar" (2007). She has been awarded Honorary Doctorate of Laws by the University of Alberta, the University of Cape Breton, McMaster University, and Hebrew University.

Julia Townsend

Julia Townsend, Founder & Principal Consultant at Enviro-Strategy

Date: April 28, 2016

Julia Townsend is the founder and principal at Enviro-Strategy, a consulting firm that specializes in applying behavioral insights to environmental problem solving. Recent projects include: designing and implementing pilot projects for the Soquel Creek Water District related to residential water use, developing and delivering trainings for Root Solutions and Nature Canada, and collaborating with researchers at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education on reducing marine debris. A 2014 Global Youth Ambassador representing the U.S. at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, she has a master’s degree in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, where she has enjoyed teaching as an adjunct faculty member. With over 10 years of combined experience in education, strategic communications, and environmental policy, Ms. Townsend is passionate about revolutionizing the way environmental problem solvers work with humans and is currently based in Santa Cruz, CA.

2015 Colloquium: Commercializing Impact Investing

Practical and inspiring perspectives focused on bridging the gap between commercial and impact investments.

Impact Investment is investment made with the intention to generate measurable social, environmental and financial return. Impact investing deploys multiple sources of capital – private, philanthropic and public to address pressing global challenges. Impact investing has the potential to unlock significant sums of commercial capital, but challenges to the commercialization of impact investing remain significant. The struggle, however, may shed light on how capitalism as we know of today can and will be transformed and leveraged for maximizing welfare and wealth creation. This course engages students with thinkers and practitioners in the impact investing sector who will share their perspectives and experiences in bridging the gap between commercial and impact investments, and explore and envision a better future.

2015 Featured Speakers

Stephanie Rupp, CEO of Toniic
April 2, 2015

Stephanie has over a decade of experience in global impact investing, impact fund design and implementation, microfinance, and more recently in crowd funding. Stephanie served as an executive team member of Razoo, a crowd funding platform where she led business development. She spent five years with Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, managing investments in debt, equity, LoC and grants for US, South Asia, West Africa and Latin America enterprises focused on property rights and microfinance.

Follow Stephanie on twitter: @StephCohnRupp


Sonal Shah, Former White House Director of Social Innovations
April 9, 2015

Sonal is Professor of Practice and the founding Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation. Sonal, an economist and entrepreneur, has spent her career focused on actionable innovation in the public and private sectors. Most recently, she was the Deputy Assistant to the President and founding Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.

Follow Sonal on twitter: @SonalRShah


Robert Rubinstein, CEO of TBLI (Triple Bottom Line International)
April 16, 2015

Robert is a social entreprenuer and the founder and driving force behind TBLI (Triple Bottom Line Investing) Group, an organization that specializes in environmental, social and governance ESG and impact investing, using Triple Bottom Line principles.

Follow Robert on twitter: @tbli


Cynthia Muller, Senior Director at Arabella Advisors
April 23, 2015

Cynthia leads Arabella Advisors impact investing practice. She has an extensive background in social enterprise and mission investing includes connecting public policy, programs, and capital for emerging social innovations to increase economic opportunities for under-served and marginalized communities.

Follow Cynthia on twitter: @cynmull


Mike Lin, CEO of Fenix International
April 30, 2015

Mike is a serial entrepreneur who previously founded an award-winning design firm, and B.MIMIMA, an eco-solutions company. He has consulted for Apple on climate change and environmental toxins and worked with Al Gore on the "Inconvenient Truth" presentation. Mike is a LEED accredited professional, a recipient of the EPA's People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Award, Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award and BusinessWeek IDEA Award. Mike earned both his BS and MS in mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.

Follow Fenix International on Twitter: @fenixintl


Jenny Kassan, CEO Cutting Edge Capital
May 7, 2015

Jenny is CEO of Cutting Edge Capital, a sister business of Cutting Edge Counsel. She earned a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and earned her J.D. from Yale Law School. She worked for eleven years at the Unity Council, a nonprofit community development corporation in Oakland, where she served as staff attorney and managed numerous community economic development projects. Learn more about Jenny's tremendous and values-driven work.

​Follow Cutting Edge Capital on Twitter: @cuttingedgecap



The Global Problems and Solutions Colloquium is hosted annually by the Institute’s Graduate School of International Policy and Management (GSIPM). The Colloquium is offered to graduate students across a variety of degree programs and offers an unambiguous demonstration of the Institute's instructional model for transformative professional education. The combined coursework and lecture series is designed to bridge theory to practice and prepare the world’s future leaders.