Latest update: May 16, 2009

Third Advanced International Colloquium on

Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2009)

In search of a home in the universe

Cairo, Egypt, 10-14 May 2009
 
A dialogue among the disciplines organized by the
 
Learning Development Institute
 
in collaboration with
Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) of the Egyptian Cabinet
Friends of Environment and Development Association (FEDA)
Fundación Cultura de Paz
Universe Awareness (UNAWE)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
 
 
The Third Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind (BtSM2009) follows in the footsteps of two prior colloquia on the same issue, all of them under the patronage and with the support of UNESCO, namely BtSM2007, held in Vancouver, Canada, in May 2007, and BtSM2005, held in The Hague, The Netherlands, in May 2005. This third colloquium is deliberately being planned to take place in Egypt so as to favor participation from the Mediterranean Basin, Africa and the Middle East, while continuing the practice of the past colloquia to discuss issues regarding the scientific mind in a global perspective. In other words, participation from all parts of the world will be encouraged and we hope to see many familiar faces from the past colloquia as well as many new ones. Check the above links to find out more about the past colloquia to have an idea of what to expect in 2009.
 
Click on the forms and documents below to register for the colloquium; to submit a proposal for a session or activity (deadline April 1, 2007); and to obtain information about payment of the conference fee. If you use the MS Word versions of the forms, right-click on the relevant form and use the 'save target as' option to place it on your hard drive. Then open it, fill out the various details, save it and email the completed form to ldi@learndev.org. For any queries, or to request that we send you the forms by email, please also contact ldi@learndev.org.
 
COLLOQUIUM FLYER
(pdf document - print front and back; then make trifold)
CONFERENCE FEE & PAYMENT MODALITIES
(information on fees and payments in Euro or US$)
REGISTRATION FORM
(MS Word version)
SESSION/ACTIVITY PROPOSAL FORM
(MS Word version)
REGISTRATION FORM
(Web version - not currently available. Please use MS Word version for now.) 
SESSION/ACTIVITY PROPOSAL FORM
(Web version - not currently available. Please use MS Word version for now.)

BtSM2009 COMMUNITY MEMBERS

BtSM2009 COMMUNITY PROFILE

BtSM2009 SESSION PROPOSALS

BtSM2009 PROGRAM OVERVIEW

BtSM2009 DAY-TO-DAY PROGRAM

SETTING YOURSELF UP IN CAIRO AND MOVING AROUND

RECOMMENDED SOURCES FOR CONSULTATION AND EXPLORATION
FINAL REPORT (not yet available)
BtSM2009 PROCEEDINGS (partially available)
PHOTO GALLERY BtSM2009

BtSM2009 GROUP FOR PHOTO AND VIDEO SHARING ON FLICKR
ARTICLE ABOUT BtSM2009 IN THE DAILY NEWS EGYPT NEWSPAPER OF MAY 19, 2009
     
 
 
MORE ABOUT THE COLLOQUIUM
 
BtSM2009 consists of a series of national one-day meetings with key stakeholders in Egypt in addition to the international colloquium that takes place from 10 to 14 May 2009. Both the national meetings and the international colloquium take place with the support of the Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) of the Egyptian Cabinet. The series of national meetings was inaugurated on 26 November 2008 at IDSC with a lecture by Jan Visser, President of the Learning Development Institute, on The Scientific Mind: An integral Concern in the Development of Human Learning for the 21st Century. Clicking on the link gives you access to the slides used during the lecture. If you wish to listen to the lecture, click here to get access to the audio file (the lecture itself begins at 6'11" from the start of the recording, it lasts 44 minutes, is preceded by introductory remarks and is followed by discussion).
 
BtSM2009 takes place in the framework of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). Through the sub-theme defined for the colloquium--In Seach of a Home in the Universe--we pay special attention to the universe as a source of inspiration for a mind that searches to understand itself and its place in the universe. The year 2009 also marks the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin as well as the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. This provides inspiration beyond the concept of the universe in its traditional sense. We, humans, are not only observers of the universe, we are also an integral part of it. The search for our home in the universe is thus not unrelated to questions about our own emergence, our evolution and possible futures. It is expected that the above thematic emphases will set the stage for a most interesting and valuable conversation. The previous colloquia attracted the participation of researchers, thinkers, students, practitioners, and policy makers at the highest level, including Nobel laureates Leon Lederman and Carl Wieman in addition to philosopher/sociologist Edgar Morin, cognitive neuroscientist Kalina Christoff and former UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor. We expect the current colloquium to be equally attractive to generate participation from among leading thinkers. Connections with the work of neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran, biochemist Christian de Duve (1974 Nobel Laureate in Biology & Medicine), sociologist of science Bruno Latour, and historian David Christian, co-originator of 'Big History' come to mind. Following are a few thoughts for further clarification of the ideas behind BtSM2009. And don't forget to also check out the Colloquium Flyer.
 
The theme--In Search of a Home in the Universe--should not be interpreted merely in the narrow astronomical sense of the phrase but be taken more generally. We have in mind a focus on the eternal quest of humans to understand their place in the universe in a more inclusive sense, inspired by the questions "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?" Those questions are the theme of Paul Gauguin's contemplation of life and death in his well-known 1887 painting inscribed with those same words in French: "D'où venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?" Participants and authors of papers, roundtables, panels and workshops will thus be encouraged to think of the scientific mind as that dimension of human intellectual behavior that thrives on disciplined inquiry and the rigorous pursuit of knowledge but that at the same time is fully conscious of its own limitations and of the need to transcend disciplinary boundaries and rise above them. Christian de Duve says in that regard, as he refers in his Vital dust: Life as a cosmic imperative (Basic Books, New York, 1995) to our inability to master much more than just one or at most two disciplines: "Though no exception to such limitation, I have ventured beyond the boundaries of my competence because I feel that the attempt must be made if we are to understand the universe and our place in it." Indeed, while adhering to scientific rigor we should also continually challenge the boundaries of our capacity to know if we are to continue to play a role in the universe. Ultimately, "we are made of star stuff," as Carl Sagan used to emphasize. We thus have a profound connection to our evolutionary past, present and future, giving us a sense of humility on the one hand and deep responsibility on the other. Shepherding planet Earth and its ecology are definitely, if not dominantly, among the things we want to promote in the framework of BtSM. The premise of the colloquium is that doing so requires the right mindset, the scientific mind being a dominant dimension of it.
 
The universe and the scientific mind: For you to discover and to explore.
 
Contact: ldi@learndev.org.