Sleep, UnraveledNobel Conference 60 | October 01 – 02, 2024

Sleep is a universal human experience and yet its importance is often overlooked. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 20% of Americans don’t get enough sleep and the CDC has reported that 70 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic sleep disorder that inhibits restful sleep.

In addition to its role in physical rejuvenation, sufficient high-quality sleep is crucial for cognition, memory, learning, and general health. Sleep loss — whether triggered by noise or light pollution, stress, overwork or conflict with circadian rhythms — has been associated with high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes and a plethora of other medical conditions.

Nobel Conference 60 – “Sleep, Unraveled” brings together an interdisciplinary panel of experts to explore the centrality of sleep for human physical health and mental wellbeing. The conference will delve into the neurological and psychological processes of sleep, the cultural evolution of sleep practices, and the implications of a twenty-four-hour convenience society that leads to permanent sleep deprivation.

Support the Conference

Science and Ethics, in Dialogue

Since 1965, the Nobel Conference has been bringing leading researchers and thinkers to Gustavus, to explore revolutionary, transformative and pressing scientific issues and the ethical questions that arise alongside them. As the only event in the United States authorized by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden to use this name, it is our privilege to host a space in which we can talk about big scientific questions, and the big ethical issues to which they inevitably give rise. The world needs more people who think critically about the crucial issues of our time, and who ask questions in ways that open up the conversation.

Learn more about Nobel Conference

I have discovered here in this little corner of Minnesota a place of great intellectual curiosity reaching into the future.

Science and Ethics through the Arts

As a liberal arts college, Gustavus is committed to addressing questions using the full range of human inquiry activities. Each year, the Nobel Conference theme is interpreted through events including an art exhibit, a concert, and dance. The arts explore, inquire and teach about ideas in ways that lectures often cannot. Music, dance, and visual arts invite us to pause, reflect and learn, and to do so with all of our senses.

Students of Gustavus Orchestra, performing at Nobel Conference with stage in background.


Dive in to Conference Topics

These resources will help you begin learning about the topic. You’ll find a carefully-selected collection of articles, videos and other materials, chosen for their suitability for a lay audience. Organized topically, the list has been developed in consultation with the conference presenters, who recommended selections from their own work and pieces by others to help you explore more about the conference topic.

Educators, looking for classroom resources and activities? Checkout our curated list to get you started.

ScienceWhys Podcast

When big scientific questions meet big ethical questions, the waters can get pretty choppy. Lisa Heldke, philosopher and director of the Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College, interviews scientists, researchers, scholars and thinkers about how science and ethics mingle, eddy, roil and churn in their own work. The podcast for anyone who hears about a scientific breakthrough and thinks “what are the downstream consequences of that?”

Listen on Anchor

ScienceWhys Podcast Logo
Aisle view of Nobel conference

Gathering people together for deeply informed, carefully reasoned, respectful and thrilling conversations about critical issues is a gift of hope and civility to a bewildered, battered world. The Nobel Conference does this with expertise and grace.
— Dr. Kathleen Dean Moore, author of
Moral Ground and Great Tide Rising

Stay Involved in the Conversation

Follow the Nobel Conference on social media to keep up to date on news related to current and past conference themes.