Critical Thinking Foundation Conference

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The Center and Foundation for Critical Thinking have together hosted critical thinking academies and conferences for more than three decades. 

During that time, we have played a key role in defining, structuring, assessing, improving and advancing the principles and best practices of fairminded critical thought in education and in society. Our annual conference provides a unique opportunity for you to improve your understanding of critical thinking, as well as your ability to more substantively foster it in the classroom and in all aspects of your work and life.

The conference begins with 4 options for preconference sessions. The rest of the conference will consist of approximately 40 sessions offered over four days. Participants will choose in advance the sessions offered during the preconference and on days one, two, and four of the main conference. On the third day of the conference participants will choose from approximately 30 concurrent sessions. (The full concurrent session program will be available at the conference. Many of the sessions will be posted online by June 2012).

Throughout our work we emphasize the importance of fostering a substantive conception of critical thinking. Such a conception not only highlights the qualities of the educated person, but also implies the proper design of the educational process. There are essential minimal conditions for cultivating educated minds. These entail modes of instruction that facilitate development of the standards, abilities, and traits of the educated person. For example, when history is substantively taught, it is taught as historical thinking, with the major goal to give students practice in thinking historically (analyzing, evaluating, and reconstructing historical interpretations and problems). As a result, students learn not only how to read historical texts with insight and understanding, but also how to gather important facts and write well-developed historical essays of their own. Through this mode of instruction, students come to see the significance of historical thinking both in their own lives and in the life of culture and society. History becomes — in such a transformed mind, — not random facts from the past, but a way to reason about the past, to make intelligent decisions in the present, and reasonable plans for the future.

All of our work, and thus all of our conference sessions, are based on this substantive conception of critical thinking. We are committed to a concept that interfaces well within the disciplines, that integrates critical with creative thinking, that applies directly to the needs of everyday and professional life.

All conference sessions are designed to converge on basic critical thinking principles and to enrich a core concept of critical thinking with practical teaching and learning strategies. 

For a fuller explanation of core critical thinking concepts, see the Thinker's Guide Library.

FOUNDATION for CRITICAL THINKING FELLOWS


Dr. Richard Paul

Dr. Richard Paul is a distinguished leader in the international critical thinking movement. He is Director of Research at the Center for Critical Thinking, the Chair of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, and author of over 200 articles and seven books on critical thinking. Dr. Paul has given hundreds of workshops on critical thinking and made a series of eight critical thinking video programs for PBS. His views on critical thinking have been canvassed in New York Times, Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, American Teacher, Educational                                                                                                

                                                    Leadership, Newsweek, U.S. News and World   

                                                    Report, and Reader's Digest.   

                                                                


Dr. Linda Elder

Dr. Linda Elder is an educational psychologist and a prominent authority on critical thinking. She is President of the Foundation for Critical Thinking and Executive Director of the Center for Critical Thinking. Dr. Elder has taught psychology and critical thinking at the college level and has given presentations to more than 20,000 educators at all levels. She has coauthored four books and 20 thinker's guides on critical thinking. Her views have been canvassed in the Times Higher Education, the Christian Science Monitor, and on National Public Radio.


Dr. Gerald Nosich

Dr. Gerald Nosich is an authority on critical thinking. He has given more than 150 national and international workshops on critical thinking. He has worked with the U.S. Department of Education on a project for the National Assessment of Higher Order Thinking skills, has served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Critical Thinking, and been featured as a Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia. He is Professor of Philosophy at Buffalo State College in New York. He is the author of two books including Learning to Thinking Things Through.


Mr. Rush Cosgrove

Mr. Rush Cosgrove is Historian for the Foundation for Critical Thinking and is engaged in research for a PhD at the University of Cambridge.  He holds Masters degrees from both the University of Oxford, New College and the University of Cambridge, Darwin College.   He has conducted research on critical thinking and the Oxford Tutorial and is currently conducting research on the Paulian Framework for critical thinking as contextualized at a major U.S. research University. He conducts workshops in critical thinking for both faculty and students, in both English and Spanish.

  Read about all the main conference presenters .

Introducing at this year's conference…

The Bertrand Russell Distinguished Scholars 
Critical Thinking Lecture Series

This new feature of the conference will highlight the work and thinking of distinguished thinkers within subjects, fields, disciplines, or about specific topics or issues.  This year's scholars include Michael Shermer, William Robinson, and Ethan Watters. All conference participants are invited to these lectures.


Dr. Michael Shermer

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Publisher of  Skeptic  magazine, a monthly columnist for  Scientific American , and author of many books including  Why People Believe Weird Things . He was a college professor for 20 years, and has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, and Larry King Live. Dr. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown. 


Ethan Watters

Ethan Watters is the author of  Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche  and coauthor of  Making Monsters , an indictment of the recovered memory movement. A frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine, Discover, Men’s Journal, Details, Wired, and PRI's This American Life, he has appeared on such national media as Good Morning America, Talk of the Nation, and CNN. His work has been featured in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series.

William I. Robinson

William I. Robinson is professor of sociology, global studies, and Latin American studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.  He is a scholar-activist who participates in social justice movements in Latin America and the United States.  Among his seven books are A Theory of Global Capitalism (2004) and Latin America and Global Capitalism (2008).  His web page is www.soc.ucsb.edu/faculty/robinson. 

Together, the Center and Foundation for Critical Thinking have hosted critical thinking academies and conferences for almost 35 years. 

During that time we've played a key role in defining, structuring, assessing, improving and advancing the principles and best practices of fairminded critical thought in education, as well as in society. Our annual conference provides a unique opportunity for you to improve your understanding of critical thinking, as well as your ability to substantively foster it in the classroom and in all aspects of your work and life. 

The conference begins with three options for preconference sessions. The rest of the conference will consist of approximately 30 sessions offered over four days. When you register for the conference, you will choose your preconference sessions, and your sessions for days one, two, and four of the main conference.  On the third day of the conference you will choose from approximately 30 concurrent sessions. (The full concurrent session program will be available at the conference). Many of the sessions will be posted online in advance. 

Throughout our work we emphasize the importance of fostering a substantive conception of critical thinking. Such a conception not only highlights the qualities of the educated person, but also implies the proper design of the educational process. There are essential, minimal conditions for cultivating educated minds. These entail modes of instruction that foster development of the standards, abilities, and traits of the educated person.

All the traditional content areas of school may be - but typically are not - taught so as to conduce to those standards, abilities, and traits. For instance, when literature is substantively taught, it is taught as literary thinking. The major goal: to give students practice in thinking analytically and critically about literary texts. As a result, students learn not only how to read novels, plays, short stories, and poems with insight, understanding, and appreciation, but also how to formulate and analyze literary problems, reasoning from information in a literary text to plausible interpretations and judgments of appreciation (which they are able to explain and defend on reasonable grounds). When this is done effectively, students come to see the significance of literature, literary thinking, and imagination both in their own lives and in the life of culture and society. Literature becomes an important way to learn about human nature and the human condition as well as a lifelong source of insight and pleasure.

When students are taught using a substantive concept of education as the guide to the design of instruction, they learn to initiate, analyze, and evaluate their own thinking and the thinking of others (within all the content areas they study). Doing so, they come to act more reasonably and effectively in every part of life. They are able to do this because they have acquired intellectual tools and intellectual standards essential to sound reasoning and personal and professional judgment. Self-assessment becomes an integral part of their lives. They are able to master content in diverse disciplines. They become proficient readers, writers, speakers, and listeners. They use their learning to raise the quality of their lives and the lives of others. They become reasonable and fairminded persons capable of empathizing with views with which they disagree and disagreeing with views uncritically accepted by those around them. They are able to use their reasoning skills to contribute to their own emotional life, and to transform their desires and motivations accordingly. They come to think, feel, and act effectively and with integrity.

All conference sessions are designed to converge on basic critical thinking principles and to enrich a core concept of critical thinking with practical teaching and learning strategies. 

For a richer explanation of core critical thinking concepts, see the Thinker's Guide Library (Click Here).

Conference Presenters

Dr. Richard Paul 

Dr. Richard Paul is a distinguished leader in the international critical thinking movement. He is Director of Research at the Center for Critical Thinking, the Chair of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, and author of over 200 articles and seven books on critical thinking. Dr. Paul has given hundreds of workshops on critical thinking and made a series of eight critical thinking video programs for PBS. His views on critical thinking have been canvassed in the New York Times, Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, American Teacher, Leadership, and Newsweek.

Dr. Linda Elder

Dr. Linda Elder is an educational psychologist and a prominent authority on critical thinking. She is President of the Foundation for Critical Thinking and Executive Director of the Center for Critical Thinking. Dr. Elder has taught psychology and critical thinking at the college level, and has given presentations to more than 20,000 educators at all levels. She has coauthored four books and twenty thinker's guides on critical thinking. Her views have been canvassed in the Times Higher Education, the Christian Science Monitor, and on National Public Radio.

Dr. Gerald Nosich

Dr. Gerald Nosich is an authority on critical thinking, having given more than 150 national and international workshops on the subject. He has worked with the U.S. Department of Education on a project for the National Assessment of Higher Order Thinking skills, has served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Critical Thinking, and been featured as a Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia. He is Professor of Philosophy at Buffalo State College in New York and the author of two books, including Learning to Think Things Through.

Rush Cosgrove is Historian for the Foundation for Critical Thinking and is engaged in research for a PhD at the University of Cambridge.  He holds Masters degrees from both the University of Oxford, New College and the University of Cambridge, Darwin College.  He has conducted research on critical thinking and the Oxford Tutorial, and is currently conducting research on the Paulian Framework for critical thinking as contextualized at a major U.S. research university. He conducts workshops in critical thinking for faculty and students, in English as well as Spanish.


Brian Barnes

Brian Barnes has taught critical thinking courses for seven years at the university level. He has earned grants from Hanover College, the James Randi Education Foundation, and the University of Louisville focused on developing critical thinking in everyday life. He holds a masters degree in Philosophy and is a PhD candidate at the University of Louisville. 

                                          

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