past event

Aspen Global Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action

As a result of the global outbreak of COVID-19, the Aspen Global Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action, originally scheduled for March 2020, has been rescheduled to March 17–20, 2021. We apologize for the inconvenience. Our priority remains the health and well-being of our speakers, participants, and staff. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your engagement and support.

The Aspen Institute Science & Society Program (New York, USA) and the Instituto Questão de Ciência (Question of Science Institute, São Paulo, Brazil), in collaboration with the Aspen Institute Italia (Rome, Italy) are organizing the Aspen Global Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action in Rome, March 17–20, 2021.

This meeting will gather around 100 thought leaders from over 50 countries actively working locally and globally on implementing scientific and rational approaches to policymaking and education. Through presentations by leading experts, small-group breakout sessions, and large-group discussions, the meeting aims to aid in the design and implementation of strategies of science communication on themes that transcend geographical boundaries: vaccines, climate change, medicine, and food biotechnologies.

By connecting science communication and policy experts from around the world, the meeting will facilitate opportunities for participants to learn how to support one another; to outline mechanisms for construction and signing of international documents; to develop a workplan for running events and campaigns; and to design a roadmap for future global work. Currently, many regional science organizations do not have strong relations with or even knowledge of their cousin organizations elsewhere in the world. This meeting aims to build bridges between those groups.

Click map to enlarge


Opening Keynote
Massimo Pigliucci (USA/Italy) Professor of Philosophy, City College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
“Philosophy of Pseudoscience”
Closing Remarks
Mariette DiChristina (USA) Dean, College of Communication, Boston University; former Editor-in-Chief, Scientific American
“Perspectives on Science Journalism and Publishing”

Session 1: Building a Dialogue on Evidence and Values: Overcoming Science Denialism
Abhilash Mishra (USA/India)
Director, Kevin Xu Initiative on Science, Technology, and Global Development, University of Chicago
Lee McIntyre (USA) Research Fellow, Center for Philosophy and History of Science, Boston University
“How to Talk to a Science Denier”
Amardeo Sarma (Germany) Chair, Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften (Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parasciences)
“Scientific Skepticism and Science Denial: A Deeper Look at the Differences”
Joy Yueyue Zhang (UK/China) Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Social Policy, Sociology, and Social Research, University of Kent
“Harmoniously Denied: Science, the Public, and Politics in China”

Session 2: Science Literacy and Popularization: Understanding How Science Works
Richard Gallagher (USA/UK)
President & Editor-in-Chief, Annual Reviews, Publisher, Knowable Magazine
Stuart Firestein (USA) Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
“Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: The Very Hard Problem of Distinguishing Between Science and its Emulators”
Simon Singh (UK) Author, journalist, and TV producer, specializing in science and mathematics
“Education and Engagement vs. Regulation and Protection”
Masataka Watanabe (Japan) Specially Appointed Professor, Tohoku University
“How to Cultivate the Sprout of Science: The Advantage of Popular Culture”

Session 3: Vaccine Denialism: Death by Misinformation
Roxana Tabakman (Argentina)
Health writer and science journalist
Noel Brewer (USA) Professor, Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
“The Science and Practice of Increasing Vaccination Uptake”
Ovidiu Covaciu (Romania) Administrator, Vaccinuri si Vaccinare (Vaccines and Vaccinations); Founder, Coaliția România Sănătoasă (Romania Healthy Coalition); Producer, Sceptici în România (Skeptics in Romania)
“Can Social Media Help or Hinder Vaccine Education?”
Kavin Senapathy (USA) Science, health, and parenting writer
“Vaccines and the Misinformation Hydra”
Session 4: Dousing the Fires of Climate Change Denial
Tim Mendham (Australia)
Executive Officer, Australian Skeptics
François-Marie Bréon (France) Climatology Researcher, Association Française pour l’Information Scientifique (French Association for Scientific Information)
“Climate Denialism in France: Claims, Motivations, and Combat”
John Cook (USA) Research Assistant Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University
“Building Resilience Against Science Misinformation Through Critical Thinking”
Hajar Khamlichi (Morocco) President and Co-Founder, Mediterranean Youth Climate Network; Board Member, Moroccan Alliance for Climate and Sustainable Development
Lina Yassin (Sudan) MENA Programme Manager, Climate Tracker

Session 5: Risks and Dangers of Alternative Medicine
Edzard Ernst (UK) Emeritus Professor, University of Exeter
“The Best of Both Worlds: Does Integrative Medicine Generate More Good Than Harm?”
Narendra Nayak (India) President, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations
“Alternative Medicine in India: A Fraud on the Citizen”
Joe Schwarcz (Canada) Chemist and Director, Office for Science and Society, McGill University
“Chemicals: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”
Natália Pasternak Taschner (Brazil) President, Instituto Questão de Ciência (Question of Science Institute)
“29 Reasons to Fight Alternative Medicine in Brazil”
Session 6: Feeding Ten Billion Mouths: Food Biotechnology for a Sustainable Future
Mahaletchumy Arujanan (Malaysia)
Global Coordinator, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA); Executive Director, Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC)
Angela Bearth (Switzerland) Research Scientist, Consumer Behavior, Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zürich
“Scientific Uncertainty and My Tomatoes: People’s Perceptions and Acceptance of Innovative Food Technologies”
Jon Entine (USA) Founder and Executive Director, Genetic Literacy Project
Sarah Davidson Evanega (USA) Director, Cornell Alliance for Science, Cornell University

Congress Participants:

Paulo Almeida (USA) Financial Officer, Instituto Questão de Ciência (Question of Science Institute)
Dheaya Alrousan (Jordan) Chairman, Green Generation Foundation
Gonzalo Argandoña (Chile) Science journalist and astronomy disseminator; Founder, Cabala Producciones
Agnès Binagwaho (Rwanda) Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity; former Minister of Health of Rwanda
Anne Claiborne (USA) Health Science Policy and Strategy Lead, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Tinsley Davis (USA) Executive Director, National Association of Science Writers
Çiler Dursun (Turkey) Professor, Faculty of Communication, Ankara University; Scientific Coordinator, Genovate
Ahmed El-Ghandour (Egypt) Founder and presenter, Al-Daheeh YouTube show
Ronnie Ellenblum (Israel) Professor, Historical Geography and Environmental History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Cary Funk (USA) Director, Science and Society Research, Pew Research Center
Susan Gerbic (USA) Founder, Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia
Stéphane Kenmoe (Cameroon) Scientist, science communicator, and television personality
Safa Khalaf (Jordan) Community Outreach Officer, Phi Science Institute
Claire Klingenberg (Czech Republic) President, European Council of Skeptical Organizations (ECSO)
Marko Krstić (Serbia) Acting Director, Centar za Promociju Nauke (Center for the Promotion of Science)
Stella Levantesti (Italy) Journalist and photographer
Mahmoud Bukar Maina (Nigeria) Founder, Science Communication Hub Nigeria
Mouhannad Malek (Syria/Germany) Founder and Chairman, Syrian Researchers
Qaiser Majeed Malik (Pakistan) Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation
Afy Malungu Bobyondo (Democratic Republic of Congo) Environmental communication practitioner; freelance editor,
Michael Marshall (UK) Project Director, Good Thinking Society
Emily Gold Mears (USA) Health and science advocate; author, Discussing Dementia blog
João Lourenço Monteiro (Portugal) Vice President, COMCEPT: Comunidade Céptica Portuguesa (Portuguese Skeptical Community)
Michel Naud (France) Director, Former President, Association Française pour l’Information Scientifique (French Association for Scientific Information)
Pablo Orozco (Guatemala/USA) Policy Affairs Associate, Cornell Alliance for Science
Carlos Orsi (Brazil) Editor-in-Chief, Questão de Ciência (Question of Science) magazine
Daniela Ovadia (Italy) Science journalist, neuroscientist, and neuroethicist; Scientific Director, Agenzia Zoe; Co-Director, Neuroscience and Society Lab, University of Pavia
Helen Pearson (UK) Chief Magazine Editor, Nature; journalist, science communicator, and author
Marco Perduca (Italy) Co-Founder, Science for Democracy
Rodrigo Pérez Ortega (USA/Mexico) Freelance science journalist; founding member, Mexican Network of Science Journalists
Massimo Polidoro (Italy) Executive Director, Comitato Italiano per il Controllo delle Affermazioni sul paranormale (Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims on the Paranormal)
Inez Ponce de Leon (Philippines) Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Ateneo de Manila University
Ángela Posada-Swafford (USA/Colombia) Science, environment, and exploration journalist, lecturer, moderator, and book author
Cees Renckens (Netherlands) Chair, Vereniging tegen de Kwaksalverij (Dutch Society Against Quackery)
Juan A. Rodríguez (Spain) Secretary, ARP–Sociedad para el Avance del Pensamiento Crítico (Society for the Advancement of Critical Thinking); Editor, El Escéptico (The Skeptic) magazine
Iida Ruishalme (Finland/Switzerland) Biologist and science communicator; author of Thoughtscapism blog
Ximena Serrano Gil (Colombia) President, Asociación Colombiana de Periodismo Científico (Colombia Association of Science Journalists)
Emily Shore (Canada) Public Affairs and Communications Director, Office for Science and Society, McGill University
Sunil Babu Shrestha (Nepal) Vice-Chancellor, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology
Nataliya Shulga (Ukraine) CEO, Ukrainian Science Club
Tania Simoncelli (USA) Director of Science Policy, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Thomas Tagoe (Ghana) Lecturer, Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Ghana; Co-Founder, GhScientific
Tenaw Terefe (Ethiopia) Assistant Professor, Faculty of Journalism and Communication, Addis Ababa University
Kevin Xu (China/USA) CEO, MEBO International
Rizqy Amelia Zein (Indonesia) Assistant Professor, Department of Personality and Social Psychology, Universitas Airlangga

We are grateful to the underwriters of the Aspen Global Science Congress:

Event information
Wed Mar 17, 2021 - Sat Mar 20, 2021
Aspen Institute Italia
Piazza Navona, 114
Rome, Italy