Aspen Global Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action

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) and EquiTech Futures, organized the Aspen Global Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action, March 17–20, 2021.


Congress Report


Recordings of keynote session and panel discussions


This meeting gathered 100 thought leaders from over 50 countries actively working 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 bolstered the design and implementation of science communication strategies, focusing on themes that transcend geographical boundaries: science denial, science popularization, vaccines, climate change, medicine, and food biotechnologies.

The meeting facilitated opportunities for participants to learn how to support one another on a global scale. They shared mechanisms for construction and signing of international documents; learned to develop work plans for running events and campaigns; and designed 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 aimed to build bridges among these groups.

Click map to enlarge


Keynote Discussion: Standing Up For Data and Evidence in the Face of Science Denial
Mariette DiChristina (Massachusetts, USA) Dean, College of Communication, Boston University; former Editor-in-Chief, Scientific American
Ricardo Galvão (Brazil) Professor, Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo; former Director-General of the National Institute for Space Research
Session 1: Building a Dialogue on Evidence and Values: Overcoming Science Denialism
Abhilash Mishra (Illinois, USA / India)
Director, Xu Initiative on Science, Technology, and Global Development, University of Chicago; Founder, EquiTech Futures
Lee McIntyre (Massachusetts, 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
Session 2: Science Literacy and Popularization: Understanding How Science Works
Richard Gallagher (California, 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 (New York, USA) Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
Simon Singh (UK) Author, journalist, and TV producer, specializing in science and mathematics
Masataka Watanabe (Japan) Specially Appointed Professor, Tohoku University
Session 3: Risks and Dangers of Alternative Medicine
Roxana Tabakman (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)
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)
John Cook (Washington, DC, 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
Session 5: Defeating Vaccine Hesitancy Through Communication
Agnes Binagwaho (Rwanda)
Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity; former Minister of Health of Rwanda
Noel Brewer (North Carolina, 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 (Illiinois, USA) Science, health, and parenting writer
Session 6: 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
Jon Entine (Ohio, USA) Founder and Executive Director, Genetic Literacy Project
Sarah Davidson Evanega (New York, USA) Director, Cornell Alliance for Science, Cornell University
Margaret Karembu (Kenya) Director, AfriCenter, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)

Congress Participants:

Naglaa Abdel-Moneim Ahmed Abdallah (Egypt) Head of the Arab Society of Genetics and Biotechnology; Director of the Egypt Biotechnology Information Center (EBIC), International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application (ISAAA)
Ali Albahrani (Saudi Arabia) Founder and Presenter, Eureka Show
Saleem Ali (Delaware, USA) Member, Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, Global Environment Facility, United Nations Environment Programme
Paulo Almeida (Brazil) Financial Officer, Instituto Questão de Ciência (Question of Science Institute)
Dheaya Alrousan (Jordan) Chairman, Green Generation Foundation
Ross Andersen (Washington, DC, USA) Deputy Editor, The Atlantic
Gonzalo Argandoña (Chile) Science journalist and astronomy disseminator; Founder, Cabala Producciones
Faris Bukhamsin (Saudi Arabia) CEO, Scientific Saudi
Russ Campbell (North Carolina, USA) Senior Communications Officer, Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Yul Rae Cho (South Korea) President, Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science & Creativity (KOFAC)
Anne Claiborne (California, USA) Health Science Policy and Strategy Lead, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Tinsley Davis (California, USA) Executive Director, National Association of Science Writers
Catherine de Jong (Netherlands) Anesthesiologist; Secretary, Vereniging tegen de Kwaksalverij (Dutch Society Against Quackery)
Daria Denisova (Russia) Director, Center for Science Communication, ITMO University
Thomas Dorlo (Netherlands) Pharmacometrician and clinical pharmacology expert; Board Member, Vereniging tegen de Kwaksalverij (Dutch Society Against Quackery)
Çiler Dursun (Turkey) Professor, Faculty of Communication, Ankara University; Scientific Coordinator, Genovate
Ahmed El-Ghandour (Egypt) Founder and presenter, Al-Daheeh YouTube show
Mónica I. Feliú-Mójer (Puerto Rico, USA) Director of Communications & Science Outreach, Ciencia Puerto Rico
Cary Funk (Washington, DC, USA) Director, Science and Society Research, Pew Research Center
Erez Garty (Israel) Head of Science Communications, Davidson Institute of Science Education, Weizmann Institute
Susan Gerbic (California, USA) Founder, Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia
Akram Ghadimi (Iran) Associate Professor, Department of Popularization of Science, National Research Institute for Science Policy
Rose Gidado (Nigeria) Assistant Director of the Agricultural Biotechnology Department at the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA); Nigerian Country Coordinator for the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB)
Laura Goodall (New Zealand) President, Science Communicators Association of New Zealand
Alice Hazelton (Switzerland/UK) Programme Lead, Science and Society, World Economic Forum
Jonathan Jarry (Canada) Science Communicator, Office for Science and Society, McGill University
Marina Joubert (South Africa) Senior Researcher, Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST), Stellenbosch University
Stéphane Kenmoe (Cameroon) Scientist, science communicator, and television personality
Safa Khalaf (Jordan) Community Outreach Officer, Phi Science Institute
Patience Kiyuka (Kenya) Infectious diseases researcher
Claire Klingenberg (Czechia) President, European Council of Skeptical Organizations (ECSO)
Robert Klitzman (New York, USA) Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Masters of Bioethics Programs, Columbia University
Marko Krstić (Serbia) Acting Director, Centar za Promociju Nauke (Center for the Promotion of Science)
Stella Levantesi (Italy) Journalist and photographer
Neta Lipman (Israel) CEO, Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Science
Soledad Machado (Uruguay) Senior Team Member, Química d+; Founding Member, Bardo Científico
Hope Mafaranga (Uganda) Science journalist; Assistant Regional News Editor, New Vision
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 (California, 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 / New York, 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
Alexander Panchin (Russia) Senior Researcher, Institute for Information Transmission Problems (Kharkevich Institute) and Member, Commission on Pseudoscience and Research Fraud, Russian Academy of Sciences
Carlo Papa (Spain) Director, Enel Foundation
Helen Pearson (UK) Chief Magazine Editor, Nature; journalist, science communicator, and author
Avital Percher (Washington, DC, USA) Director of Partnerships, National Science Policy Network (NSPN); American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow
Marco Perduca (Italy) Co-Founder, Science for Democracy
Rodrigo Pérez Ortega (Washington, DC, 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 (Florida, USA / Colombia) Science, environment, and exploration journalist, lecturer, moderator, and book author
Alberto Quadrio Curzio (Italy) Economics Professor; President Emeritus, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei
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
Rhodora Romero-Aldemita (Philippines) Director, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) SEAsia Center
Iida Ruishalme (Finland/Switzerland) Biologist and science communicator; author of Thoughtscapism blog
Mohamed Qasem (Kuwait) Assistant Professor, Department of Electronics Engineering, College of Technological Studies; consultant on digital science content, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS)
Ahmed Samir (Egypt) Founder and Leader, Egychology
Gianna Savoie (New Zealand) Director of Filmmaking, Center for Science Communication, University of Otago
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 (California, USA) Director of Science Policy, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Thomas Tagoe (Ghana) Lecturer, Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Ghana; Co-Founder, GhScientific
April Philippa Tash (France) Programme Specialist, Lead for the Recommendation on Science, UNESCO
Tenaw Terefe (Ethiopia) Assistant Professor, Faculty of Journalism and Communication, Addis Ababa University
Stuart Vyse (Connecticut, USA) Behavioral scientist, teacher, and writer; Contributing Editor, Skeptical Inquirer magazine
Deena Skolnick Weisberg (Pennsylvania, USA) Principal Investigator, Scientific Thinking and Representation Lab; Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Villanova University
Michael Weisberg (Pennsylvania, USA) Co-Director, Penn Laboratory for Understanding Science; Professor, Professor and Chair of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania
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: