Past Events

Issues events connect our contributors with a dynamic community of interested readers, experts, and policymakers. These events emphasize the unique role Issues plays in raising the level of debate among all those who appreciate the critical contributions of science and technology. We also occasionally highlight events from our partnering institutions—the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and Arizona State University—and other events around the national capital that will be of interest to our audience.

June 1, 20226:00pm–7:00pm

Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected All Systems Red by Martha Wells.
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May 23, 20223:00pm–4:00pm

What Is Biosecurity for the Twenty-First Century?

After September 11 and the anthrax attacks in 2001, the United States adopted a top-down governance structure for bioterrorism that famously employed “guns, gates, and guards” to prevent attacks, while keeping track of suspicious “insiders” who might cause harm.
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March 24, 20223:00pm–4:00pm

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 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.
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February 17, 20221:00pm–2:00pm

Can Bureaucracy Start a Climate Revolution?

The struggle to limit carbon emissions often pits sustainable energy against fossil fuels. But does it have to be this way? As Kartikeya Singh writes in a new essay for Issues in Science and Technology, India’s carbon-heavy government ministries have shown a surprising ability to engineer deep change: the nation brought electricity to over half a billion citizens between 2009 and 2019, then presided over a grid where wind and solar became cheaper than power from coal.
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February 2, 20226:00pm–7:00pm

Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club: Infomocracy by Malka Older

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the third gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Malka Older’s Infomocracy. The novel imagines a future where politics has become both simplified and infinitely more complex, thanks to the omniscient Information, which has led the transition from warring nation-states to a seemingly tidy form of corporate-ish global micro-democracy.
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December 17, 20213:00pm–4:00pm

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.
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December 2, 20214:00pm–5:00pm

Can Dinosaur Fossils Make Science More Accessible?

Pretty much every dinosaur skeleton you see has been painstakingly excavated from rock by people with precision, skill, and creativity. What they don’t have are paleontology degrees, and what they don’t get is money or credit.
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October 21, 20214:00pm–5:00pm

Is It Time to Throw Away Our Résumés?

Society is failing Americans without college degrees. Research shows that up to 30 million workers without four-year degrees are drastically underpaid, and have the skills to earn 70% more than what they’re currently making.
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October 13, 20216:00pm–7:00pm

Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson Science fiction can have real science policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. Having successfully debuted our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club with a spirited discussion of Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous, we are excited to announce our second book selection: The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, selected as one of Barack Obama’s favorite books in 2020.
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September 15, 20212:00pm–3:00pm

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.
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August 25, 20213:00pm–4:00pm

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.
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August 11, 20214:00pm–5:00pm

Is Cutthroat Science Hindering Discovery?

Laboratories around the world are under fire for their lack of diversity, a culture of harassment and bullying, rigid hierarchies, and research that cannot be reproduced. Is the entire research system to blame?
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June 1, 20212:00pm–3:00pm

Imagining a New Future for Nuclear Power

If nuclear power is to be an important source of carbon-free energy in the United States, the industry must confront its history and acknowledge why public support for this source of energy has fallen over the last half century.
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April 28, 20211:00pm–2:00pm

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.
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April 13, 20214:00pm–5:00pm

Do Inventors Bear Responsibility for the Effects of Their Inventions?

Every year scientists who have made great inventions receive Nobel Prizes recognizing their “benefit to humankind.” Yet for all the profound ways scientific progress has impacted our lives, many inventions have affected the world in ways that their creators did not imagine.
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March 16, 20214:00pm–5:00pm

What Does “Food Security” Really Mean?

Global security depends on everyone having enough food. Scientist Molly Jahn started her career inventing squashes and melons. But that work led her to wonder and worry about the security of our global food supply in the face of changing climate, growing population, and new forms of war.
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January 19, 20214:00pm–5:00pm

How Will Robot Trucks Change American Life?

Robotic trucks are beginning to roll out, carrying cargo and promises of revolutionizing freight hauling, reducing traffic, and lowering pollution. But previous waves of automation have eliminated millions of jobs in the United States.
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December 8, 20204:00pm–5:00pm

Can Innovation Solve Society’s Problems?

Since World War II, the United States has famously funded research to advance all fields of science and innovation. The resulting wave of discovery and knowledge has benefited Americans by creating new disease-fighting drugs, increasing economic productivity, and sparking an information revolution through advances like the internet and GPS.
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September 23, 202012:00pm–1:00pm

What Science and Technology Owe the National Defense

  On September 23, 2020, Jamie HolmesLt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, and Margaret O’Mara explored a pivotal moment in US history and its implications for today’s debates over technology and national security.
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September 11, 202012:00pm–1:00pm

Should We Patent a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Quashing the COVID-19 pandemic is going to 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.
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July 16, 202012:00pm–1:00pm

Jennifer Jacquet and James Prosek in Conversation

Join us for a DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) Experiment online. Launched in 2011, DASER is a discussion forum providing a snapshot of multidisciplinary projects and fostering networking across disciplines. This month, environmental scientist Jennifer Jacquet and artist and writer James Prosek engage in a conversation on Zoom with time for Q&A and interaction with the audience.
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July 8, 20201:30pm–2:45pm

COVID-19, DACA, and the Responses of Hispanic Serving Institutions

Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) are the fastest-growing type of enrollment-based Minority Serving Institutions, serving the educational needs of hundreds of thousands of students, advancing the full spectrum of human knowledge, and invigorating the cultural, social, and economic horizons of the regions they serve.
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July 6, 20201:00pm–2:00pm

COVID-19, Supporting Learners, and the Responses of our Nation’s Community Colleges

More than 1,200 US community colleges serve the educational needs of millions of students, advancing the full spectrum of human knowledge while also invigorating the cultural, social, and economic institutions in their communities.
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June 29, 20201:30pm–2:30pm

COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and the Responses of HBCUs

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are among the nation’s most vital and vibrant institutions, serving the educational needs of hundreds of thousands of students, advancing the full spectrum of human knowledge, and invigorating the cultural, social, and economic horizons of the regions they serve.
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June 24, 20201:00pm–2:00pm

Can Voting by Mail Ensure a Safe and Secure Election?

You can watch a recording of this webinar here. During a presidential election year, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to disrupt the most important tenet of democracy: political representation. In response, many states are implementing or considering systems to allow citizens to vote by mail.
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June 11, 20203:00pm–4:00pm

A Global Strategy for Preventing the Next Pandemic

You can watch a recording of this webinar here. Protection of biodiversity and animal habitat need to be on the front lines of the fight against deadly diseases. Habitat destruction and the wildlife trade are just two of the unsustainable practices that are increasing the likelihood of diseases such as COVID-19 making the leap from animals to humans.
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June 4, 20204:00pm–5:00pm

Science’s Viral Misinformation

In a moment when scientists are racing to develop treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19, it’s crucial to look to the long history of once-popular treatments that have later proven ineffective or deadly.
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May 27, 20202:45pm–3:45pm

COVID-19 and the Mission of the US Public University

A Virtual Town Hall Discussion You can watch a recording of this webinar here. Public universities are among the nation’s most vital and vibrant institutions, serving the educational needs of hundreds of thousands of students, advancing the full spectrum of human knowledge, and invigorating the cultural, social, and economic horizons of the regions they serve.
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May 27, 20204:00pm–5:00pm

Are Bats Really to Blame for the COVID-19 Pandemic?

You can watch a recording of this webinar here. Bats have been identified by some experts and in the media as the culprits behind the costliest pandemic in modern history, even though the source and method of transmission of the novel coronavirus remain unclear.
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May 14, 20203:00pm–4:00pm

Applying Engineering Lessons to Pandemic Management

You can watch a recording of this webinar here. The COVID-19 pandemic has produced challenges that are commonly dealt with in engineering in the United States. Policy responses to the pandemic could be improved with lessons from other types of infrastructure, and by investing in “efficient resilience” when it comes to medical infrastructure.
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