CSPO Conversations

Occasional Encounters in Science, Society and Policy

CSPO conversations are occasional dialogues and collective reflections, among thought leaders, partners and collaborators, on contemporary issues at the intersections of science, society and policy — from the perils of remaining captive to a “scientific-technological elite” to pragmatic actions in dealing with climate change.

  • Webinar: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century

    Vannevar Bush’s influence on the history and institutions of US science and technology is unrivaled, but he remains relatively unknown outside wonky science policy circles. G. Pascal Zachary, Bush’s biographer and editor of a new collection of Bush’s writings, The Essential Writings of Vannevar Bush (Columbia University Press, 2022) talks with historian of science and technology Emily Gibson about this remarkable figure, and why Bush’s pioneering insights and lucid writings deserve a wide audience today.


    March 24, 2022 3:00pm—4:00pm

  • Webinar: Does Engineering Education Need a Revolution?

    The basic structure of engineering education was set in 1955 and hasn’t changed much since. Rather than hands-on problem solving, classes emphasize theory, while a “pipeline mindset” perpetuates a system designed to keep people out rather than welcome them in. How can engineering schools connect their curricula to solving the broader social justice, equity, and environmental issues that motivate today’s students?

    On December 17 at 3 PM ET, join past president of the American Society for Engineering Education Sheryl Sorby, current ASEE executive director Norman L. Fortenberry, and Gilda Barabino, president of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, for a discussion moderated by Chemical & Engineering News science news editor Jessica Marshall on what it will take to prepare tomorrow’s engineers for our digital, diverse, global, and rapidly changing society. Register today!


    December 17, 2021 3:00pm—4:00pm


  • True Stories That Matter: Applying Creative Nonfiction to Science & Policy Writing

    You’ve produced some important research or a policy plan that could create meaningful change. How do you make your ideas and proposals stand out and get read? Creative nonfiction offers a way for researchers, policy wonks, program managers, grant writers, and writers of all forms to turn their ideas into compelling narratives.

    Join Lee Gutkind, the “Godfather” behind creative nonfiction (Vanity Fair), on November 16 from 12:00-1:00 pm for an in-person CSPO Conversation! He will introduce and deconstruct the basic techniques of the genre and how they can be applied to make complicated ideas more appealing to a general audience.  There will be a special emphasis on scene writing, a technique that will help readers understand and relate to scientific issues and ideas.

    Masks are required. A livestream will also be available.

    Register here to join us in-person or to receive the livestream link!


    November 16, 2021 12:00pm—1:00pm

    Location Information

    ASU Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center

    1800 I St NW, Washington, DC 20006


    8th floor. Masks are required.

  • Webinar: How Do You Make a Policy Idea Go Viral?

    Directly informing policymaking is the goal of many researchers and academics in policy relevant fields. But no matter how original or brilliant a policy idea is, it can struggle for traction in a sea of articles and opinion pieces. How do you make your work and voice stand out?

    Learn from Divyansh Kaushik and Caleb Watney, two early career researchers who wrote and published an opinion piece with Issues in Science and Technology before networking and promoting their work onto a national stage. Not only did they cultivate a large audience for their proposed reforms to the US immigration system for foreign students and entrepreneurs, but their ideas were submitted to the House Judiciary Committee’s legislative debate on the topic. How did they do it? How can Issues help?


    September 15, 2021 2:00pm—3:00pm


  • Webinar: How Do We Build Infrastructure for a Future We Can’t See?

    The United States is preparing to spend $1 trillion on repairing and upgrading the country’s infrastructure. There will be improvements to traditional systems including transportation networks and energy grids, but the proposed federal funding will also go toward increasing the nation’s climate resilience and expanding broadband internet access.

    All of this infrastructure investment must account for a rapidly changing world in which future climate, technologies, politics, and basic necessities may be very different from those of today. How can policymakers ensure that infrastructure systems keep pace with our uncertain future? Do we need to change our conception of what infrastructure is and what it can do? In the past, infrastructure expansion such as highways has reinforced inequities—can this round of building be a force for greater equity?

    On August 25 at 3 PM ET, join Mikhail Chester (Arizona State University), Tierra Bills (Wayne State University), and Guru Madhavan (National Academy of Engineering) as they discuss how infrastructure can help society be more equitable, flexible, and resilient, in a discussion moderated by Paul Mackie of the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board.


    August 25, 2021 3:00pm—4:00pm

  • Webinar: Imagining a New Future for Nuclear Power

    Is it possible for nuclear power to answer the call for the small-scale, community-focused, decentralized energy future envisioned by many progressives? Can nuclear engineering jettison its tradition of training engineers to be uncritical champions of the technology? What would a revitalized nuclear industry look like?

    On June 1, Issues in Science and Technology and the Consortium for Science, Policy, & Outcomes will host a discussion with Suzanne Hobbs Baker (Good Energy Collective), Denia Djokić (Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs), Jessica Lovering (Good Energy Collective) and Aditi Verma (Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs), moderated by Gloria Gonzalez (Politico). These four nuclear engineers and experts are actively engaging with the question how their field—not to mention power plants themselves—could change to meet the challenges of the present and future.


    June 01, 2021 2:00pm—3:00pm


  • Webinar: Can Alternative Meats Bring the Heartland More than Burgers?

    The rise of alternative meats—either plant-based or lab-grown—could bring huge benefits for the environment, public health, animal welfare, and potentially even rural workers and the national economy. Currently, progress in this field is slow—alternative meats make up less than 1% of the total meat market share. Accelerating innovation will require government leadership, public policy, and investment.

    Should the government fund alternative meats? What policies would best support innovation? Join CSPO and Issues in Science and Technology for a virtual panel discussion with Alex Smith (Breakthrough Institute), Christy Spackman (Arizona State University), and Johnny Ream (Stray Dog Capital) and moderated by Los Angeles Times science journalist Amina Khan.

    Register here!


    April 28, 2021 1:00pm—2:00pm


  • Webinar: Should We Patent a COVID-19 Vaccine?

    Quashing the COVID-19 pandemic will require companies to manufacture billions of vaccines at an affordable price. Conventional wisdom says that the best way to do this requires easing up on patent restrictions. But Ken Shadlen argues that the most effective way to quickly mass-produce a COVID-19 vaccine may be to have “patent holders organize networks of licensees and manufacturers, letting them coordinate and manage global supply chains, like giant, vertically integrated firms.”

    However, if drug prices aren’t kept under control, Bhaven Sampat warns, “COVID-19 treatments could end up being limited to those who can pay—or even bankrupting the health care system.” Taxpayer-funded research and government efforts have helped pharmaceutical companies develop vaccine candidates at unprecedented speed. But the debate over whether the government has any say over how much those drugs should cost has been raging for decades.  The COVID-19 crisis may be pointing to a better way to translate government-funded science into affordable pharmaceuticals.

    On Friday, September 11, at 12:00 PM ET, join Ken Shadlen and Bhaven Sampat for an in-depth discussion, moderated by Robert Cook-Deegan, on how best to guarantee access for the vaccine that will help end this crisis.


    September 11, 2020 12:00pm—1:00pm