The Congress will bring together experts and leaders who work to implement scientific and rational approaches to policymaking and education.
Ben Berliner | The Aspen Institute
Aaron Mertz | The Aspen Institute
Director, Science & Society Program
Natália Pasternak | Question of Science Institute
Founder and Director
New York, NY, and São Paulo, Brazil, March 15, 2021 – The Aspen Institute Science & Society Program (USA) and the Instituto Questão de Ciência (IQC, Question of Science Institute, Brazil), in partnership with the Aspen Institute Italia and EquiTech Futures, will convene more than 100 scientists, scholars, journalists, and communicators from around the world from March 17 to 20, 2021 in a virtual format.
These individuals are active in the movement to implement scientific and rational approaches to policy making and education, both locally and globally. Through presentations by leading experts, small-group breakout sessions, and large-group discussions, the meeting will bolster the design and implementation of science communication strategies, focusing on themes that transcend geographical boundaries: science literacy, science popularization, vaccines, climate change, medicine, and food biotechnologies.
“In order to design meaningful global policy regarding human health and social and environmental justice, we believe in evidence-based solutions that incorporate social, cultural, and historical contexts,” says Natália Pasternak, Ph.D., a microbiologist, Co-Chair of the Global Science Congress, and founder and president of the IQC.
The meeting will facilitate opportunities for participants to learn how to support one another on a global scale. They’ll share mechanisms for construction and signing of international documents; learn to develop workplans for running events and campaigns, and design roadmaps for future global work. Currently, many regional science organizations do not have strong relations with—or even knowledge of—related organizations elsewhere in the world. This meeting aims to build bridges among these groups.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic made abundantly clear, tackling the most pressing global issues requires collaboration across national boundaries,” says Aaron Mertz, Ph.D., a biophysicist, Co-Chair of the Global Science Congress, and the founding director of the Aspen Institute Science & Society Program. “Science communicators must work to foster scientifically sound policy and education while holding industries and governments accountable for the future of our planet and all of its inhabitants,”
The Global Science Congress was conceptualized in late 2019, before COVID-19 took hold of the world. Even then, the organizers were already aware of the importance of applying scientific attitude and thinking to formulate public policies. The pandemic reinforced this need, demonstrating that clear and accurate science communication is essential for governments and individuals to make sound decisions for their health and well-being. The Congress was originally scheduled for March 2020 but was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.
The 2021 Global Science Congress will be opened with a keynote discussion between Mariette DiChristina, dean of the College of Communication at Boston University and former editor-in-chief and executive vice president of Scientific American, and Dr. Ricardo Galvão, a renowned Brazilian physicist and former head of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research before his firing by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for insisting on the respect for scientific evidence regarding deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. DiChristina and Galvão will discuss scientific attitudes during times of rampant science denial around the world and offer insights into how scientists, journalists, and government officials can stand up for science even when doing so is politically and professionally unfavorable.
“Not long after the pandemic began, the W.H.O. proclaimed an accompanying ‘infodemic’ as we dealt with a social-media-accelerated onslaught of information —some good, some bad, and some well-intentioned but just plain wrong,” said DiChristina. “Fostering evidence-based decision-making requires a better understanding of today’s communication platforms, and how we can best use and respond to them as experts and advocates.”
“The sustainable and socially fair development of humanity in this century must follow the path of public policies based upon solid scientific evidence and assertive and comprehensive measures towards world peace, respecting cultural differences,” said Galvão.
Underwriters of the Aspen Global Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action include the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the John Templeton Foundation, the Question of Science Institute, Annual Reviews, the Hurford Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Emily Gold Mears, and EquiTech Futures.
The full program and list of speakers and presenters are available here:
The opening keynote and panel discussions are open to the public and media by registration here:
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.