past event

Aspen Global Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action

The following components of the Aspen Global Science Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action, a four-day gathering of 100 science communicators and advocates from over 50 countries, March 17–20, 2021, co-organized by the Aspen Institute Science & Society Program (USA) and the Question of Science Institute (Brazil) in collaboration with the Aspen Institute Italia (Rome, Italy) and EquiTech Futures, were open to public audiences. We invited scientists, science advocates, science communicators, journalists, and interested and curious members of the public to attend.


Keynote: Standing Up For Data and Evidence in the Face of Science Denial
Panel 1: Building a Dialogue on Evidence and Values: Overcoming Science Denialism
Panel 2: Science Literacy and Popularization: Understanding How Science Works
Panel 3: Risks and Dangers of Alternative Medicine
Panel 4: Dousing the Fires of Climate Change Denial
Panel 5: Defeating Vaccine Hesitancy Through Communication
Panel 6: Food Biotechnology for a Sustainable Future

Standing Up For Data and Evidence in the Face of Science Denial
Wednesday, March 17, 11:00–11:45am EDT
with welcome remarks 10:45–11:00am EDT by Aaron Mertz (Aspen Institute), Natália Pasternak (Question of Science Institute), Angelo Maria Petroni (Aspen Italia), and Seema Kumar (Johnson & Johnson)

This public conversation features a renowned science journalist and one of science’s most vocal advocates, who will discuss scientific attitudes during times of rampant science denial around the world. They will offer insights into how scientists, journalists, and government officials can stand up for science even when doing so is politically and professionally unfavorable.

  • Mariette DiChristina (USA) – Dean of the College of Communication at Boston University and former Editor-in-Chief and Executive Vice President of Scientific American. She served as a committee member of the Climate Communications Initiative for the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation advocating for federal funding of basic scientific research.
  • Ricardo Galvão (Brazil) – a renowned physicist who recently stood up publicly for scientific evidence and consequently was fired by President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. Galvão was the head of Brazil’s INPE (National Institute for Space Research) and firmly stood his ground when politics and ideology challenged scientific data regarding deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. He was recognized by Nature as one of “ten people who mattered in science in 2019” and honored with the 2021 American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility.

Building a Dialogue on Evidence and Values: Overcoming Science Denialism
Wednesday, March 17, 2:00–2:45pm EDT

  • Abhilash Mishra (USA/India), Chair – Director, 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
  • Amardeo Sarma (Germany) – Chair, Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften (Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parasciences)
  • Philipp Schmid (Germany) – Behavioral scientist, Interim Lecturer for Statistics and Methods, Department of Psychology, University of Erfurt
  • Joy Y. Zhang (UK/China) – Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Social Policy, Sociology, and Social Research, University of Kent

Science Literacy and Popularization: Understanding How Science Works
Thursday, March 18, 9:00–9:45am EDT

  • Richard Gallagher, Chair (USA/UK) – President & Editor-in-Chief, Annual Reviews, Publisher, Knowable Magazine
  • Ayelet Baram-Tsabari (Israel) – Associate Professor, Faculty of Education in Science and Technology, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
  • Stuart Firestein (USA) – Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
  • Simon Singh (UK) – Author, journalist, and TV producer, specializing in science and mathematics
  • Masataka Watanabe (Japan) – President, Japanese Association for Science Communication; Specially Appointed Professor, Tohoku University

Risks and Dangers of Alternative Medicine
Thursday, March 18, 12:00–12:45pm EDT

  • Roxana Tabakman, Chair (Argentina) – Health writer and science journalist
  • Edzard Ernst (UK) – Emeritus Professor, University of Exeter
  • Narendra Nayak (India) – President, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations
  • Joe Schwarcz (Canada) – Chemist and Director, Office for Science and Society, McGill University
  • Natália Pasternak Taschner (Brazil) – President, Instituto Questão de Ciência (Question of Science Institute)

Dousing the Fires of Climate Change Denial
Friday, March 19, 6:00–6:45am EDT

  • Tim Mendham, Chair (Australia) – Executive Officer, Australian Skeptics
  • François-Marie Bréon (France) – Climatology Researcher, Association Française pour l’Information Scientifique (French Association for Scientific Information)
  • John Cook (USA) – Research Assistant Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University
  • 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

Defeating Vaccine Hesitancy Through Communication
Friday, March 19, 12:00–12:45pm EDT

  • Agnes Binagwaho, Chair (Rwanda) – Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity; former Minister of Health of Rwanda
  • Noel Brewer (USA) – Professor, Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Ovidiu Covaciu (Romania) – Administrator, Vaccinuri si Vaccinare (Vaccines and Vaccinations); Founder, Coaliția România Sănătoasă (Romania Healthy Coalition); Producer, Sceptici în România (Skeptics in Romania)
  • Fara Ndiaye (Senegal) – Deputy Executive Director, Speak Up Africa
  • Kavin Senapathy (USA) – Science, health, and parenting writer

Food Biotechnology for a Sustainable Future
Saturday, March 20, 9:00–9:45am EDT

  • Mahaletchumy Arujanan, Chair (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
  • Jon Entine (USA) – Founder and Executive Director, Genetic Literacy Project
  • Sarah Davidson Evanega (USA) – Director, Cornell Alliance for Science, Cornell University
  • Margaret Karembu (Kenya) – Director, AfriCenter, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)

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

Event information
Wed Mar 17, 2021 - Sat Mar 20, 2021