What is For Thought?

For Thought is a series of events and activities from the British Science Association and partners, which gives leaders from business, policy, science and civil society a platform to discuss the biggest issues of the day. Society’s biggest challenges – pandemics, climate change, cyber-security, the future of cities, food security – require a partnership between science and the rest of society. They need conversation, challenge and change-oriented ideas.

For Thought will provide a platform to interrogate the key scientific and social challenges facing society; a forum to hear from diverse voices; and a chance to connect with individuals from outside of your day-to-day networks.

A note from the BSA on For Thought, the new name for the Huxley Summit

We started the Huxley Summit in 2016 to provide a platform for cross-sector discussions on key scientific and social issues because we believed that society’s biggest challenges – pandemics, climate change, cyber-security, the future of cities, food security – are all-too-often seen as scientific issues, there to be debated and decided upon by scientists.

In reality, these issues require a partnership between science and the rest of society; whether that’s business leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, civic leaders, medical professionals, farmers, policymakers, or the general public. They need conversation, challenge and change.

When we originally named the Summit after Thomas Huxley, we did so because we felt he (and, specifically, the famous Huxley/Wilberforce debate at our annual meeting in 1860) epitomised the spirit of the Summit: a platform to exchange ideas on emerging topics and pressing issues. But, throughout the course of 2020, we began looking more deeply at Huxley. We found he held views on race and genetics that aren’t just antiquated by today’s standards, they are offensive; they do not represent our views, values, philosophy or focus, nor our diverse community of speakers and attendees.

We also reconsidered the format of the Summit, as in-person events became obsolete due to the coronavirus pandemic. While creating space for high-level discussions between leaders from business, policy, science and the media has never been more important, we felt it was equally important for the Summit to adapt accordingly.

In what promises to be a pivotal year for science and society, we are seeking to increase outcomes and action. We intend to take the Summit from an annual one-day event, to a programme of events and activities that provides numerous opportunities for leaders to discuss how to work towards a safer, more equitable and prosperous way forward for people and the planet. We will do that by bringing people together to share thoughtful ideas and compelling visions for change.

The Summit has always been a space for this: a place to interrogate ideas; a forum to hear from diverse voices; and an opportunity for leaders to connect with individuals from outside of their everyday networks. It is a platform for thought, for action, and for change.

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Who’s behind the idea?

The British Science Association launched the Summit in 2016 with support from 10 Downing Street, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and leading influencers from science, business, policy and the media.

About the British Science Association

The British Science Association (BSA) wants to see a future where science is more relevant, representative, and connected to society. The BSA develops science engagement programmes for audiences underrepresented in, and underserved by, science.

The BSA’s mission is to address and remove structural and system-wide barriers, bringing more voices into the conversation and enabling more people see science as a relevant part of their lives. The BSA are striving for a future where everyone is represented and has their voice heard on the issues that matter to them.

The BSA was established in 1831 and is a registered charity organising major initiatives across the UK, including British Science Week; the British Science Festival; For Thought; the CREST Awards, and community engagement programmes. The BSA work with, convene, and seek to influence business leaders, policy makers, scientists, community leaders, teachers, and other public groups.

For more information, visit www.britishscienceassociation.org