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The Two Cultures in the 21st Century

The Two Cultures in the 21st Century

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New York Academy of Sciences

At the 50th anniversary of C.P. Snow's famous Rede Lecture on the importance to society of building a bridge between the sciences and humanities, this day-long symposium brings together leading scholars, scientists, politicians, authors, and representatives of the media to explore the persistence of the Two Cultures gap and how it can be overcome. More than 20 speakers will cover topics including science in politics, education, film and media, and science citizenship.

Organizing Committee

Chris Mooney
Author,The Republican War on Science, and co-author, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future

Sheril Kirshenbaum
Co-author, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future

Matthew Chapman
Screenwriter, Runaway Jury, and great-great grandson of Charles Darwin

Shawn Otto
Co-founder and CEO, Science Debate 2008

Kate Seip
Sciences Communications Consortium

Adrienne Burke
Executive Editor, New York Academy of Sciences

Pricing & Registration

All symposium registration levels include attendance at the full day of panel discussions and keynote lectures, as well as a continental breakfast, seated lunch, and a post-event reception.

Students $85
NYAS Members $125
Nonmembers $225 (includes an Academy membership)

Limited Number of Special Patron Packages Available!

We have a limited number of spaces available to attend a private pre-event breakfast with two-time Pulitzer Prize winning biologist E.O. Wilson or a post-event dinner with Segway inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen. You can also register to attend both of these exclusive events. Patrons will also receive reserved seating at all panel discussion and keynote lectures throughout the day.

Patron Pricing

$500 for breakfast OR dinner
for breakfast AND dinner

It's Not About the Robots

Dean Kamen (DEKA Research and Development)

Symposium Schedule


8:00 Sign in & Continental Breakfast

9:00 Welcome & Morning Keynote

E.O. Wilson, Harvard University
Biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, discusses his classic treatise on bringing the sciences and humanities together.

10:30 Cultural History
The Two Cultures in Historical Perspective, from Aristotle to "Science Wars" and the "Third Culture"

In this session, noted scholars and writers examine the intellectual trends that have carried us to the present moment. Beginning with a survey of academic and disciplinary divides up to and through the scientific revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries, it includes an introduction to the historical milieu in which C.P. Snow wrote and spoke, and what motivated him to do so.

D. Graham Burnett, Professor of History, Princeton University

Ann Blair, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, Harvard University
Lawrence Krauss, Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University
Kenneth Miller, Professor of Biology, Brown University

11:30 Science Communication 101
How to More Effectively Communicate Science Issues to the Public

The "two cultures" divide has often been understood as a rift between science and the humanities. But in truth, C.P. Snow's interest was to bring an appreciation of science into politics, policymaking, and international affairs. Read today, Snow's lecture points not to one rift--between science and the literary sphere--but rather to many. What role can the media play in amending these miscommunications?

Moderator (invited)
Corey Powell, Editor-in-Chief, Discover

Paula Apsell, Producer, executive producer of NOVA and director of the WGBH Science Unit
Ira Flatow, Executive Producer & Host, NPR's Science Friday
Jonah Lehrer, Author, Proust Was a Neuroscientist
Harold Evans (invited), Author, They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine, Two Centuries of Innovators

12:45 Lunch & Luncheon Keynote

John Porter
The Honorable John Edward Porter is chair of Research!America's board of directors and a partner in Hogan & Hartson's Washington, DC, law office. Previously, he served 21 years as a congressman from the 10th district in Illinois. In Congress he was chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; vice-chair of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations; and vice-chair of the Subcommittee on Military Construction.

2:00 Political Science
Restoring Science to Its Rightful Place in Politics

Chris Mooney
, Co-author, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future

Matthew Chapman, Screenwriter, Runaway Jury, and great-great grandson of Charles Darwin
Shawn Otto, Co-founder and CEO, Science Debate 2008
Darlene Cavalier, Science Cheerleader

3:00 Education & Citizenship
A Better Future through Science Citizenship

When it came to addressing the divide between the "two cultures," C.P. Snow was unequivocal: The only ultimate solution, he said, lies in education. How does that lesson hold up today? This panel examines the scientific education of our next generation of citizens.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, Co-author, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future

Ann Druyan, Co-founder and CEO, Cosmos Studios
Adrienne Klein, Co-Director, Science & the Arts, The Graduate Center of The City University of New York
Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology, Duke University
Carl Zimmer, Author and Science Essayist

4:30 Concluding Keynote

Dean Kamen, Founder, DEKA
Dean Kamen, famed for inventing the Segway, is an entrepreneur and inventor of numerous technologies designed to improve lives. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Clinton, and he is the founder of FIRST, an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation of leaders to understand, use, and enjoy science and technology.

5:15 Closing Reception


Paula S. Apsell

Apsell is the senior executive producer for NOVA and director of the WGBH scince unit. She joined NOVA, a fledgling WGBH-produced national series that would set the standard for science programming on television, in 1975. Today NOVA is the most popular science series on American television and on the Web, and it has won every major broadcasting award, including the Emmy, the Peabody, the AAAS Westinghouse Science Journalism Award, and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton. In addition to the programs in the regular NOVA television schedule, Apsell has overseen the production of many award-winning WGBH Science Unit specials, including A Science Odyssey, Secrets of Lost Empires, Building Big, and most recently, the eight-part miniseries, Evolution. She's also directed NOVA's diversification into other media, most notably NOVA's award-winning Web site. As executive in charge of NOVA's large-format film unit, Apsell has overseen the production of Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, To the Limit, Stormchasers, Island of the Sharks, and Special Effects, the first IMAX film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. Apsell has served on the boards of several organizations, including the Earthwatch Institute, Hebrew College (Brookline, Massachusetts) and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. She is a trustee of the International Documentary Association.

Stacy Baker

Baker is a biology teacher at the Calverton School in Huntingtown, MD. She is a pioneer in the use of online mediums such as blogging for science education. She has won awards for both her classroom teaching and online outreach. She received her B.S. in Zoology at Washington State University.

Ann Blair

Blair is Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Harvard University. Her research and teaching focus on the intellectual and cultural history of Europe 1450-1700. In particular she studies the history of the interactions between science and religion, and the relations between the disciplines in encyclopedias and other organizations of knowledge. She is finishing a book for Yale University Press entitled Too Much to Know: methods of information management before the modern era. Especially germane to this conference is her recent article: "Disciplinary Distinctions before the 'Two Cultures,'" The European Legacy 13:5 (2008), pp. 577-88, in a special issue on The Languages of the Sciences and the Languages of the Humanities, ed. Oren Harman.

D. Graham Burnett

Burnett is an editor at Cabinet magazine in Brooklyn and teaches history of science at Princeton University. His research has ranged from Renaissance cosmology to Darwinism, early modern optics to 20th century environmentalism. His first book, Masters of All They Surveyed (University of Chicago Press, 2000), deals with the history of cartography and imperialism in the nineteenth century. A Trial By Jury (Knopf), tells the story of the struggle to resolve a Manhattan murder trial; it was a New York Times Notable selection in 2001. A small book on Descartes (Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest) came out in 2005, and in the autumn of 2007 his new book, Trying Leviathan, was published by Princeton University Press; it has been awarded the 2008 New York City Book Award and the 2008 Hermalyn Prize in Urban History. Burnett has taught at Yale and Columbia Universities, and served on the editorial board of Lapham's Quarterly.

Darlene Cavalier

Cavalier is the founder of Science, a blog that promotes the involvement of citizens in science and science-related policy. She is also developing, a major multi-functional Web site that will encourage and enable lay people to learn about, participate in, and contribute to science through recreational activities as well as formal research. Cavalier held executive positions at Walt Disney Publishing and worked at Discover magazine for more than a decade. She was the principal investigator of a $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant applied to promote basic research through partnerships with Disney and ABC TV. Cavalier is a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader and holds a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied the role of the citizen in science. She is a senior advisor to Discover magazine, on the Steering Committee for Science Debate 2008 and organizing an effort to restore the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, with citizen involvement. She and her husband live in Philadelphia with their four young children.

Matthew Chapman

Chapman is president of Science Debate, Inc, previously Science Debate 2008. He is a great-great grandson of Charles Darwin and the author of two books, Trials Of The Monkey: An Accidental Memoir, and 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities On Trial in Pennsylvania. He has written and directed five independent movies, three of which he produced, and he has written several others, among them Consenting Adults, Color of Night, and Runaway Jury. He is currently preparing a feature film, The Ledge, which he wrote and will direct.

Kevin Finneran

Finneran is editor-in-chief of Issues in Science and Technology, the policy journal of the National Academy of Sciences, and an active participant in the Cultural Programs of the NAS. He has spent his career crossing cultural boundaries. After several undergraduate years in chemical engineering, he graduated as an English major. Grad school in English led to several years of teaching film studies, writing, and literature at Rutgers. That was followed by a switch to freelance energy and environmental journalism and ultimately to editorship of a solar energy magazine. More grad school resulted in a degree in science and technology policy and consulting work with the Office of Technology Assessment, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Agency for International Development, and High Technology magazine. His next bicultural project is to organize and moderate a discussion of neuroscience and the performing arts, which will include a choreographer, a member of D.C.'s Shakespeare Theater, and two neuroscientists. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Ira Flatow

Flatow hosts and produces National Public Radio's award winning weekly talk program about science, Talk of the Nation: Science Friday, now in its 16th year. His numerous TV credits include: six years as host and writer for the Emmy-award-winning Newton's Apple on PBS and science reporter for CBS: This Morning. Flatow is President of ScienceFriday, Inc, devoted to finding new and creative ways of keeping the public informed about developments in science and technology. He has been covering science news as a journalist since 1970. Flatow is the founder and president of TalkingScience, a non-profit organization devoted to bringing science to young adults. He has authored three books and many articles for magazines and newspapers and has shared his knowledge about science and media as a guest on numerous television shows including Oprah, The Merv Griffin Show, Today, Regis and Kathy Lee, and CNN.

Francesca Grifo

Grifo is the senior scientist and director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC. She acts to mobilize scientists and citizens to defend the integrity of government science from political interference. She joined the UCS in 2005 from Columbia University where she directed the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation graduate policy workshop and ran the Science Teachers Environmental Education Program. Prior to that, she was director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation and a curator of the Hall of Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. She edited and contributed to the books Biodiversity and Human Health and The Living Planet in Crisis: Biodiversity Science and Policy. She has testified before Congress on the subject of scientific integrity in federal policy making and is widely quoted on the topic in media outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and National Public Radio's Science Friday.

Dean Kamen

Kamen is an inventor, entrepreneur, and a tireless advocate for science and technology. He is the founder of DEKA Research & Development Corporation, where he develops internally generated inventions and provides research and development for major corporate clients. He holds more than 440 US and foreign patents for innovative devices that have expanded the frontiers of health care worldwide. Some of his notable inventions include the first wearable insulin pump for diabetics, the HomeChoiceTM portable peritoneal dialysis machine, the INDEPENDENCE® IBOT® Mobility System, and the Segway® Human Transporter. Among Kamen's proudest accomplishments is founding FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use, and enjoy science and technology. Kamen was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000, the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 2002, is a member of the National Academy of Engineers and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2005.

Sheril Kirshenbaum

Kirshenbaum is an Associate at Duke University and co-author of the forthcoming book, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney. Together, they co-host "The Intersection" blog, hosted by Discover magazine. Sheril works to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Trained in marine biology, she is now a science journalist, frequently writing about topics that bridge science and society from climate change to the science behind kissing. Previously, Sheril served as a congressional science fellow on Capitol Hill involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). She has also worked as a pop radio disc jockey and is one of the founding members of the ScienceDebate initiative.

Adrienne Klein

Klein is co-Director of the Science & the Arts series at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The series produces programs in theater, art, music, literature, dance and film that bridge the worlds of art and science, ranging from conferences and concerts to science demonstrations on the streets of New York. Klein is also a visual artist and curator. Klein organized an international survey of HIV/AIDS graphics which was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Her own work has been shown in nine solo exhibitions and more than 50 exhibitions in the United States and Europe and appears in the recently published Confronting Mortality with Art and Science.

Lawrence M. Krauss

Krauss is Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Departments, Associate Director of the Beyond Center, Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative and Director of the exciting new Origins Initiative at Arizona State University, which will explore questions ranging from the origin of the Universe to the origins of human culture and cognition. Until 2008 he was Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Prof of Astronomy, and Director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics. Krauss received his PhD from MIT in 1982 and then joined the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. He was appointed as a professor of physics and astronomy at Yale University in 1985, and then joined Case as Chair of Physics in 1993, a position he held until 2005. During this period he built an internationally ranked research center, and created such novel new programs as the Physics Entrepreneurship Masters Program. The author of 7 popular books including international bestseller, The Physics of Star Trek, Krauss is also a radio commentator and essayist for newspapers such as the New York Times, the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal.

Kenneth R. Miller

Miller is Professor of Biology and Royce Family Professor for Teaching Excellence at Brown University. A cell biologist, he serves as an advisor on life sciences to the NewsHour, a daily PBS television program on news and public affairs, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Miller is coauthor, with Joseph S. Levine, of four different high school and college biology textbooks used by millions of students nationwide. In 2005 he served as lead witness in the trial on evolution and intelligent design in Dover, Pennsylvania. His popular book, Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution, addresses the scientific status of evolutionary theory and its relationship to religious views of nature. His latest book, Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul addresses the continuing struggle over how evolution is to be understood in American society. His honors include the Presidential Citation of the American Institute of Biological Science (2005), the Public Service Award of the American Society for Cell Biology (shared with Dr. Barbara Forrest in 2006), the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of Biology teachers (2008), and most recently, the AAAS Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award (2008).

Chris Mooney

Mooney is visiting associate in the Center for Collaborative History at Princeton University, a contributing editor to Science Progress, and author of three books: The New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science—dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American; Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming; dubbed "riveting" by the Boston Globe and selected as a 2007 best book of the year in the science category by Publisher's Weekly; and the forthcoming Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored with Sheril Kirshenbaum. He also writes "The Intersection" blog with Kirshenbaum hosted by Discover magazine.

Shawn Lawrence Otto

Otto is a cofounder and CEO of Science Debate 2008, the largest political initiative in the history of American science, which formed the initial inspiration for the Obama science policy. He is a nationally published writer and commentator in various outlets, a frequent public speaker, and an award-winning screenwriter/director/producer, who wrote and coproduced the Oscar-nominated film House of Sand and Fog. He lives in a wind-powered passive solar home he designed and built with his own hands, with his wife, Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto and their son.

Guy Ortolano

Ortolano teaches modern British history and the history of science at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Two Cultures Controversy: Science, Literature, and Cultural Politics in Postwar Britain (Cambridge, 2009). The book draws from private papers on both sides of the Atlantic to reveal the personal agendas and political ambitions that charged the "two cultures" debate between the scientist-turned-novelist C. P. Snow and the literary critic F. R. Leavis. It then relates the debate to simultaneous arguments over the mission of the university, the meaning of the Cold War, and the fate of the British Empire. By excavating the political stakes of the "two cultures" controversy, Dr. Ortolano explains the workings of cultural politics during the 1960s more generally, while also revising the meaning of a term that continues to be evoked to this day.

Stuart Pimm

Pimm became a conservation biologist watching species become extinct in Hawaii in the 1970s. That experience led to his commitment to study the scientific issues behind the global loss of biological diversity. Pimm has written more than 150 scientific papers and four books including The Balance of Nature?: Ecological Issues in the Conservation of Species and Communities and a global assessment of biodiversity's future, The World According to Pimm: A Scientist Audits the Earth. His research covers the reasons why species become extinct, how fast they do so, the global patterns of habitat loss and species extinction, the role of introduced species in causing extinction and, importantly, the management consequences of this research. His commitment to the interface between science and policy has led to his testimony to both House and Senate Committees on the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act. Current work includes studies of endangered species and ecosystem restoration in the Florida Everglades, and setting priorities for protected areas in the Atlantic Coast forest of Brazil (one of the world's "hotspots" for threatened species). The Institute of Scientific Information recognized him in 2002 as one of the world's most highly cited scientists.

John Edward Porter

Porter is chairman of Research!America and a partner in Hogan & Hartson's Washington D.C. Office and a member of the firm's Health, Legislative, and Education Groups. He concentrates his practice on health law and education matters, including administrative and regulatory, international, legislative strategy, and education and health policy. Porter attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University. Following service in the US Army, he graduated with distinction from the University of Michigan Law School where he was an editor of the law review. Prior to joining Hogan & Hartson, he served 21 years as a Congressman from Illinois' 10th District. In Congress, he served on the Appropriations Committee as a chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, as vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations; and as vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Construction. Before his election to Congress, Porter served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1973 through 1979. He is a member of numerous boards including Public Broadcasting Service (chair), the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (vice chair), the Brookings Institution (trustee), J.S. Kemper Foundation, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

Corey Powell

Powell is Executive Editor at Discover magazine and an adjunct professor of science journalism at New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. He is author of God in the Equation: How Einstein Transformed Religion.

Andrew Revkin

Revkin has reported on the environment for the New York Times since 1995, covering subjects that have included Hurricane Katrina, climate change, the Asian tsunami, science policy and politics, and the North Pole. His job took him to the Arctic three times in three years, and he was the first Times reporter to file stories and photos from the sea ice around the Pole. He also has worked as a senior editor of Discover, a Los Angeles Times staff writer, and a senior writer at Science Digest. Revkin has a bachelor's degree in biology from Brown University and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, and has served as adjunct professor at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, teaching environmental reporting. He is the author of several books, including The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest, Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, and The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World. He recently started a blog, Dot Earth, about "efforts to balance human affairs with the planet's limits."

Edward O. Wilson

Wilson was born in Birmingham in 1929. He received his BS and MS in biology from the University of Alabama and, in 1955, his PhD in biology from Harvard, where he taught for four decades, receiving both of its college-wide teaching awards. He is currently University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard, and Honorary Curator in Entomology of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. He is the recipient of more than 100 international medals and awards, including the National Medal of Science; the International Prize for Biology from Japan; the Catalonia Prize of Spain; the Presidential Medal of Italy; the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, given in fields of science not covered by the Nobel Prize; and for his conservation efforts, the Gold Medal of the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the Audubon Medal of the National Audubon Society. He is the author of 25 books two of which won Pulitzer Prizes, Human Nature (1978) and The Ants (1990, with Bert Hölldobler). Six of Wilson's books compose two trilogies. The first, The Insect Societies, Sociobiology, and On Human Nature (1971–78) founded sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. The second, The Diversity of Life, The Future of Life, and The Creation (1992–2006) organized the base of modern biodiversity conservation. Wilson has served on the Boards of Directors of The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and the American Museum of Natural History, and gives many lectures throughout the world. His most recent books includes Consilience (1998), which argues for the uniting of the natural sciences with the humanities. In 2003 he conceived the idea of the Encyclopedia of Life, which has since come to fruition. Wilson lives in Lexington, Mass., with his wife, Irene.

Carl Zimmer

Zimmer is the author of seven books about science, including Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life, Soul Made Flesh, and Parasite Rex. He writes about science frequently for the New York Times and magazines including Time and National Geographic. He is a contributing editor at Discover, where he writes a column about the brain and "The Loom," an award-winning blog about science. He has earned fellowships from John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Zimmer has also received numerous awards, including the National Academies Science Communication Award. He teaches science writing at Yale and is a frequent lecturer at universities and museums around the country.

This conference was made possible through the generous contributions of:

Gerry Ohrstrom
Thomas Campbell Jackson
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

Take this opportunity to become part of a new discourse on science and the humanities

  • Meet influential thinkers, authors, educators, and media personalities
  • Be part of an historic gathering commemorating C.P. Snow's seminal 1959 lecture, "The Two Cultures"
  • Influence hundreds of attendees involved in social sciences and education
  • Join in the debate, and add your own, and your company's, perspective to the issues
  • Reach a worldwide audience of scientists and science professionals through

As a sponsor of "Two Cultures," you and your organization can take advantage of many opportunities designed to highlight your presence and extend your influence

  • Sponsorship recognition in introductions and closing
  • Tabletop displays at event
  • CCTV in reception area
  • Recognition in local, national, and worldwide promotion and publicity
  • Book signing and sales opportunities
  • Online and print advertising opportunities
  • Distribution and sampling opportunties
  • Special signage
  • Recruitment opportunities

Be part of this historic gathering by linking your name and your organization to this landmark gathering of influential leaders discussing these important issues.

For complete information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Adrienne Burke:
212.298.8655 |


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