For Thought is a unique thought-leadership programme from the British Science Association and partners, which gives leaders from business, policy, science and civil society a platform to address the key scientific and social challenges facing the world in the 21st century.

Society’s biggest challenges – pandemics, climate change, cyber-security, the future of cities, food security – require cross-cutting partnerships between science and the rest of society.

For Thought will provide a platform to interrogate the key scientific and social challenges facing society; a forum to hear from diverse voices; and an opportunity to engage with individuals from outside your networks.

These issues need thought, challenge and cross-sector leadership to turn discussion into action.

For more details and latest timings, see below or our programme page.

For Thought was previously known as the Huxley Summit. Click here to read more about why we changed the name.

All of the 2021 events will be delivered online. Each event will feature panel discussions involving high profile speakers and experts. Invited attendees will then have the opportunity to network, exploring the topics in more depth in small groups.


The global shock of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed inbuilt weaknesses within society but also demonstrated that rapid change is achievable. The pandemic has fundamentally changed how citizens, organisations and states perceive risk and questioned who we trust.

The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs Social Inclusion has called the pandemic a “human, economic and social crisis”, “attacking societies at their core”. COVID-19 has demonstrated how precarious some human-made systems and infrastructures are to unexpected shocks.

This event will bring together leaders in business, policy, science and the media to draw out concrete recommendations to create resilient leaders, organisations and nations for the future global shocks.

14:00 Introduction and welcome

14:05 Keynote interview with Lord David Willetts (Chair of For Thought) by Samira Ahmed

14:25 Panel discussion and Q&A on building resilience with Professor Sir David Omand (Visiting Professor, KCL and former Director of GCHQ), Professor Tolullah Oni (Public health doctor, urban epidemiologist at University of Cambridge), Gillian Tett (Chair, Editorial Board and Editor-at-large (US) – The Financial Times) and Kate Bamford (Partner, Advisory Services at EY)

15:05 Discussion on the future of resilience with Ann Cairns (Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard) and Samah Khalil (Youth Mayor, Oldham)

15:25 Networking roundtables (optional)

16:00 End of event

At the start of 2020, there were no deaths from an unnamed, novel disease found in China. Within four months, the virus had spread to 170 countries and over three quarters of million people had been infected.

In December 2020, the first person in the UK received the Pfizer vaccine following emergency use authorisation. Never before have we seen such rapid development or  clinical approval of a vaccine.

As the world looks to recover from the pandemic, how can we learn from innovating in a crisis to use economic and regulatory drivers to stimulate growth in technologies that do not yet exist? How can we share the benefits of new technology, products and systems more equitably; broaden participation to include people and places that have traditionally been underrepresented; and include more voices in decision making?

This event will bring together leaders in business, policy, science and the media to draw out concrete recommendations to create innovation ecosystems to build back better and share the benefits of new technology, products and systems to create a more balanced and resilient economy.

08:30 Introduction and welcome

08:35 Panel discussion and Q&A with Ksenia Zheltoukhova (Acting Chief Scientist, Nesta), Ben Osborn (Managing Director, UK at Pfizer), Amanda Solloway MP (Science Minister and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) and Lopa Patel MBE (Digital Entrepreneur and Non-Executive Chair)

09:25 Networking roundtables (optional)

10:00 Keynote interview with Professor Muhammad Yunus (Founder, Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize winner) by Samira Ahmed

10:30 End of programme

The shock of COVID-19 lockdowns have led to unintended environmental consequences. Despite a dramatic 5% drop in greenhouse gas emissions (UNCTAD),  the consumption of disposable plastic used to reduce transmission of and control the virus has seen plastic pollution increase exponentially.

In the wake of the pandemic and in the lead up to COP26, governments, business leaders and scientist have acknowledged the importance of a ‘green recovery’. But is the focus on achieving net zero, whilst sidelining issues such as biodiversity, enough to create environmental prosperity?

How do we balance the immediate social and economic demands to return to ‘normal’ with the opportunity to shift towards a more resilient and sustainable future? What levers and coalitions can be used and created to turn pledges to action?

This event will bring together leaders in business, policy, science and the media to draw out concrete recommendations to put environmental prosperity at the centre of post-pandemic recovery plans in the lead-up to COP26.

16:00 Introduction and welcome

16:05 Panel discussion and Q&A with Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE (Director, Cambridge Zero), Sir David King (Former UK Special Envoy on Climate Change and Founder of Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge), Afsheen Kabir Rashid (Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Repowering London) and Duncan Burt (COP26 Director, National Grid) by Samira Ahmed

17:00 ‘In conversation’ with Aliza Ayaz (founder UCL Climate Action Society and UN Youth Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals) and Nero Ughwujabo (Former Special Adviser to Theresa May on Social Justice, Young People & Opportunities)

17:20 Networking roundtables (optional)

18:00 End of event

The For Thought Summit, Global collaboration in building resilience, ties the challenges discussed in the three chapter events together. What calls to action should be implemented to address, and start solving, them?

Having experienced devastation and disruption throughout 2020, leaders from all sectors and nations must now work towards a future society that is prepared for unknowns. Better cooperation across sector boundaries and international borders are vital to global efforts to rebuild a more resilient post-pandemic world. The advances made during COVID-19 vaccine development demonstrate reactive innovation at its best – what lessons can be learned and applied to achieving environmental targets for instance?

This event will bring together leaders in business, policy, science and the media to draw out concrete recommendations to build more resilient, responsive and robust societies. The Summit will tie up points from the chapter events in a series of discussions and published report.

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For Thought (formerly the Huxley Summit) provides a platform for a diverse range of speakers and attendees to debate cross-cutting themes such as pandemics, climate change and cyber-security.