About Us

Sustainable Solutions to Ocean Challenges

Galapagos sea lion, Zalophus wollebaeki

Our Mission

The Center for Ocean Solutions works to solve the major problems facing the ocean and prepares leaders to take on these challenges.

People have long depended on the ocean for food and commerce, and looked to it for adventure and recreation. In the 21st century, expanding population, trade and tourism are adding to our reliance on the services the oceans provide. However, fishermen, scientists and policymakers alike recognize that this irreplaceable resource is in trouble. Recent studies warn that unless humans begin interacting with our marine environment in a more sustainable way, seafood populations and critical ecosystems may collapse within 50 years.

To reduce these threats to our oceans and estuaries, and avoid their dire consequences, experts are calling on organizations and governments to develop practical solutions by integrating cutting-edge science and technology with economic, social and political expertise. Such an approach will require not only bringing experts and decision-makers together but also building public understanding of these issues and producing leaders who can engage in effective problem solving and take the actions necessary to solve the problems.

With these goals in mind, three leading marine science and policy institutions – Stanford University (through its Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and Hopkins Marine Station), the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) – have joined forces to create the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS). With the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, COS combines Stanford’s expertise in marine biology, oceanography, engineering, economics, law and policy with the Aquarium’s unparalleled success at public education and outreach, and MBARI’s leadership in deep-sea technology, exploration and monitoring, as well as marine and coastal economics. Our COS Overview dives into our mission, overarching goals and focal areas. 

In addition to developing new knowledge to solve ocean challenges, COS researchers and staff reach out to decision-makers from government, business and the nonprofit sectors to translate the results of marine science and policy research into action. COS educates current and future leaders by offering enhanced graduate-level educational and research opportunities. COS works to highlight these issues in the media, and sponsors outreach programs to inform and empower action by the general public and local, state, national and international decision makers.

Solving the Greatest Ocean Challenges

Focal Areas

COS focuses on finding practical and enduring solutions to the greatest challenges facing the oceans. The core of this work takes place through our three long-term focal areas - climate change, ecosystem health and land-sea interactions- and in work with partner institutions to develop and implement strategies designed to solve major ocean challenges. As the need arises, COS also engages in shorter-term projects to help decision-makers address specific problems by providing advice, conducting research, and catalyzing working groups that bring together diverse perspectives.

Learn more on Focal Areas.

Education and Leadership Training

In keeping with the Center’s goal of educating the next generation of leaders, COS seeks to improve graduate-level marine education in the Monterey region through workshops and short courses on marine science and policy. It also sponsors fellowships for postdoctoral scholars and recent law and business school graduates, and hosts mid-career professionals engaged in research and policy activities.

Learn more about COS Education and Leadership Training.