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Join us for the World's Longest Running Annual Conference on Critical Thinking 

July 26-31, 2014 

Preconference July 26-27, 2014 


Conference focal session descriptions are found below. Click on each title in the overview section to be taken to the descriptions further down on the page. Choose the focal sessions you plan to attend when you register for the conference.  

Saturday and Sunday (July 26-27, 2014) 
(choose one of the following in-depth two-day sessions)


DAY ONE  Monday (July 28)  
(choose one of the following sessions, which runs all day following the morning key-note address) 

DAY TWO Tuesday morning (July 29) 
(Everyone is Invited) 

For more information on Mr. Nader, visit

DAY TWO Tuesday afternoon (July 29) 
(choose one of the following sessions for the afternoon) 

DAY THREE Wednesday morning & early afternoon (July 30) 

Concurrent sessions - TBA

If you would like to send a proposal for a concurrent session, please contact Foundation for Critical Thinking Fellow, Rush Cosgrove, at

Concurrent sessions are one hour in length. Most sessions are conducted by faculty and administrators who have been working with critical thinking concepts and principles for several years by bringing critical thinking into individual classrooms or across the curriculum.


DAY THREE Wednesday afternoon (July 30) 
(choose one of the following sessions for the afternoon) 


DAY FOUR Thursday morning (July 31) 

(choose one of the following sessions for the morning) 

Cultivating Critical Thinking in Teaching and Learning: The Foundations of Critical Thinking... Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder

This session will lay the foundation for all conference sessions and is therefore highly recommended for new conference attendees. It will introduce you to some of the most basic understandings in critical thinking – namely, how to analyze thinking, how to assess it, and how to develop and foster intellectual virtues or dispositions. 

One conceptual set we will focus on is the elements of reasoning, or parts of thinking. These elements or parts of reasoning are those essential dimensions of reasoning that are present whenever and wherever reasoning occurs, independent of whether we are reasoning well or poorly. Working together, these elements shape reasoning and provide a general logic to the use of thought. They are presupposed in every subject, discipline, and domain of human thought.

A second conceptual set we will focus on is that of universal intellectual standards. One of the fundamentals of critical thinking is the ability to assess reasoning. To be skilled at assessment requires that we consistently take apart thinking and examine its parts with respect to standards of quality. We do this using criteria based on clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logicalness, and significance. Critical thinkers recognize that whenever they are reasoning, they reason to some purpose (element of reasoning). Implicit goals are bulit into their thought processes. But their reasoning is improved when they are clear (intellectual standard) about that purpose or goal. Similarly, to reason well, they need to know that - consciously or unconciously - they are using relevant (intellectual standard: relevance) information (element of reasoning) in their thinking. Furthermore, their reasoning improves if and when they make sure that the information that they are using is accurate (intellectual standard: accuracy).

A third essential conceptual set in critical thinking is intellectual virtues or traits. Critical thinking does not entail merely intellectual skills. Rather, it is a way of orienting oneself in the world. It is a way of approaching problems that differs significantly from that which is typical in human life. People may have critical thinking skills and abilities, and yet still be unable to enter viewpoints with which they disagree. They may have critical thinking abilities, and yet still be unable to analyze the belifes that guide their behavior. They may have critical thinking abilities, and yet be unable to distinguish between what they know and what they don't know, to persevere through difficult problems and issues, to think fairmindedly, or to stand alone against the crowd. Thus, in developing as a thinker and fostering critical thinking abilities in others, it is important to develop intellectual viirtues - virtues of fairmindedness, intellectual humility, intellectual preserverance, intellectual courage, intellectual empathy, intellectual autonomy, intellectual integrity, and confidence in reason. 

Finally, we will illuminate two intrinsic barriers to critical thinking development - egocentric and sociocentric thought. These natural pathological tendencies will be briefly introduced and explored. 

In short, we introduce, in this preconference session, the foundations of fairminded critical thinking; throughout the two days we will introduce and explore critical thinking theory while applying this theory to teaching and learning. 

Bringing Critical Thinking Concepts and Principles into the Heart of Socratic Dialogue … Dr. Gerald Nosich

Socratic questioning is disciplined questioning that can be used to persue thought in many directions and for many purposes, including: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we don't know, and to follow out logical implications of thought. The key to distinguish Socratic questioning from questioning per se is that Socratic questioning is systematic, disciplined, and deep; it usually focuses on foundational concepts, principles, theories, issues, or problems.

Teachers, students, and indeed anyone interested in probing thinking at a deep level should construct Socratic questions and engage in Socratic dialogue. When we use Socratic questioning in teaching, our purpose may be to probe student thinking, to determine students' depth of understanding, to model Socratic questioning for them, or to help them analyze a concept or line of reasoning. In the final analysis, we want students to learn the discipline of Socratic questioning, so that they come to use it in reasoning through complex issues, in understanding and assessing the thinking of others, and in following-out the implications of what they, and others think.

The art of Socratic questioning is intimately connected with critical thinking because the art of questioning is important to excellence of thought. Both critical thinking and Socratic questioning share a common end. Critical thinking provides the conceptual tools for understanding how the mind functions in its pursuit of meaning and truth; Socratic questioning employs those tools in framing questions essential to the pursuit of meaning and truth.

This session will focus on the methodology of Socratic dialogue, on the conceptual tools critical thinking brings to Socratic dialogue, and on the importance of questioning in cultivating the disciplined mind. The session will be highly interactive as participants practice (throughout the two days) Socratic questioning using the foundations of critical thinking.

DAY ONE  (choose one) 

Placing Critical Thinking at the Core of the Core of the College Curriculum … Dr. Richard Paul & Dr. Linda Elder

A key insight into content, and into thinking, is that all content represents a distinctive mode of thinking. Math becomes more intelligible as one learns to think mathematically. Biology becomes more intelligible as one learns to think biologically. History becomes more intelligible as one learns to think historically.  This is true because all subjects are generated by thinking, organized by thinking, analyzed by thinking, synthesized by thinking, expressed by thinking, evaluated by thinking, restructured by thinking, maintained by thinking, transformed by thinking, LEARNED by thinking, UNDERSTOOD by thinking, and APPLIED by thinking.  If you try to take the thinking out of content, you have nothing - literally nothing - remaining. Learning a unique system of meanings is the key to learning any content whatsoever. In this session we will explore the intimate relationship between content and thinking, and will argue for the importance of placing critical thinking concepts and principles at the very heart of teaching and learning in higher education.


Cultivating the Public Citizen Through a Robust Conception of Critical Thinking in Education … Dr. Rush Cosgrove

The American Revolution rang with the declaration that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” That is also true for “justice” and “peace” – and for “clean air” and “clean water” and “safe cars” and “healthy work places.” But these good things, the blessings of liberty, will not come to pass until we cease viewing citizen involvement as a privilege and begin defining our daily work to include citizenship toward public problems as an obligation.   Ralph Nader, the Ralph Nader Reader, 2000, p. 337.

The problems of education for fairminded independence of thought, for genuine moral integrity, and for responsible citizenship are not three separate issues, but one complex task. If we succeed with one dimension of the problem, we succeed with all. If we fail with one, we fail with all. Now we are failing with all because we do not clearly understand the interrelated nature of the problem nor how to address it.  

Richard Paul, How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World, 1995, p. 258.

Public citizens are keenly aware of their role as voting, contributing, integrated members of a democratic society. They recognize that the health of a society is given in the ways in which people in the society act on a typical day - in a typical family, in a typical relationship, in a typical marriage, in a typical school, in a typical college, in a typical business, in a typical non-profit organization, in a typical government. Public citizens perceive contributing to a better community, and hence a better world, to be the responsibility of all people in all societies.

But they do not always agree on how this should be done. They do not always agree on how to deal with complex issues or problems. Indeed, because of the nature of complex issues, even reasonable persons often disagree on how best to conceptualize and approach them; they frequently disagree on the very questions to be addressed. To make matters worse, we find common, even among advocacy groups pursing noble goals, those egocentric and sociocentric tendencies intrinsic to all people that give rise to such human pathologies as narrow-mindedness, group-think, intellectual arrogance, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, infighting and backstabbing.

When students internalize, through the educational process, a substantive, explicit, fairminded, conception of critical thinking, they emerge from schools with the intellectual foundations needed to work through difficult problems, as well as to deal with the intrinsic pathological workings of their own minds. They listen intently to arguments with which they disagree; they are moved by arguments superior to their own. They distinguish, in any given situation, between what they know and what they do not know.  They can stand alone in their beliefs, if reason and evidence compel them to do so. They routinely:

  • raise vital questions within disciplines, formulating them clearly and precisely.
  • gather and assess information, using ideas to interpret that information insightfully.
  • come to well reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards.
  • reason within subjects and disciplines, exploring and assessing - as need be - their assumptions, organizing concepts, implications, and practical consequences. 
  • communicate effectively with others using the language of academic disciplines and of educated public discourse.
  • relate what they are learning in a given subject to other subjects, as well as to what is significant in human life. 
  • apply intellectual skills to everyday life problems every day.
  • contribute to a more rational and just world.

These and other related critical thinking skills, abilities, and traits are essential to the educated person, the ethical reasoner, and the public citizen. In this session, we focus on internalizing a substantive fairminded (strong-sense) conception of critical thinking, one that can be fostered in teaching and learning at all levels, one that is fundamental to cultivating the public citizen.


Fostering Deep Understanding of Fundamental and Powerful Concepts in Instruction and in Daily Life  Dr. Gerald Nosich

Concepts are ideas we use in thinking. They enable us to group things in our experience into different categories, classes, or divisions. They are the basis of the labels we give things in our minds. They represent the mental map (and meanings) we construct of the world, the map that tells us the way the world is. Through our concepts we define situations, events, relationships, and all other objects of our experience. All our decisions depend on how we conceptualize things, and all subjects or disciplines are defined by their foundational concepts. For instance, a fundamental concept in ecology is ecosystem, defined as a group of living things dependent on one another and living in a particular habitat. Ecologists study how differing ecosystems function and how they interrelate with other ecosystems. They are concerned with ecological succession - the natural pattern of change occurring within every ecosystem when natural processes are undisturbed. This pattern includes the birth, development, death, and then replacement of natural communities. Ecologists have grouped communities into larger units called biomes, regions throughout the world classified according to physical features, including temperature, rainfall and type of vegetation. Ecologists use all of these seminal concepts as they reason through ecological problems. Other key concepts for ecologists include imbalances, energy, nutrients, population growth, diversity, habitat, competition, predation, parasitism, adaptation, coevolution, succession and climax communities and conservation.

When students master foundational concepts at a deep level, they are able to use them to understand and function better within the world. Can you identify the fundamental concepts in your discipline? Can you explain their role in thinking within your discipline? How can you help students take command of these concepts? Can you exemplify how the core ideas in the discipline are important in life? These are some of the questions to be explored in this session.


For Returning Registrants: Socrates, Epictetus, and Critical Thinking - Linking the important ideas of transformative thinkers throughout history  Mr. Brian Barnes

Instead of taking a course which would have done no good either to you or to me, I set myself to do you individually and privately what I hold to be the greatest possible service: I tried to persuade each of you not to think more of practical advantages than of his mental and moral well-being, or in general to think more of advantage than of well-being in the case of the state or of anything else (p. 70)…when I leave the court I shall go away condemned by you to death, but they [my accusers] will go away convicted by Truth herself … (p. 73).

[Plato, the Apology of Socrates, in The Last Days of Socrates, 1954)

Now there are two ways in which a man may be this hardened: one when his reasoning faculty is petrified, and the other when his moral sense is petrified, and he sets himself deliberately not to assent to manifest arguments, and not to abandon what conflicts with them. Now most of us fear the deadening of the body and would take all possible means to avoid such a calamity; yet we take no heed of the deadening of the mind and the spirit. When the mind itself is in such a state that a man can follow nothing and understand nothing, we do indeed think that he is a bad condition; yet, if a man’s sense of shame and self-respect is deadened, we even go so far as to call him a “strong man.”

from Arrian’s Discourses of Epictetus (The Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers, p. 232.)

One way of deepening our understanding of critical thinking and its role in history is to interrelate explicit critical thinking concepts and principals with transformative ideas developed by deep thinkers throughout history. At this year’s conference, returning registrants (and those who have attended our professional development programs on your campus) are invited to participate in an advanced session focusing on Socrates and Epictetus - two deeply insightful thinkers in the history of ideas and of critical thinking. We explore some ideas of both Socrates and Epictetus integral to a fairminded conception of critical thinking. For a brief study of Socratic thought, we will explore a few excerpts from Socratic dialogues (by Plato and Xenophon); in studying Epictetus, we will read in fragments from his original works, as well as in Arrian's Discourses of Epictetus  . For this session we presuppose that you have an initial or advanced understanding of the elements of reasoning, intellectual standards, and intellectual virtues. These intellectual tools will be used to open up and begin to internalize the thinking of Socrates and Epictetus. Please choose another session if you are new to the conference.


DAY TWO — MORNING (everyone is invited)  

All conference delegates are invited to participant in …

The Bertrand Russell Distinguished Scholars Lecture and Conversation

This important dimension of the conference highlights the work and thinking of distinguished scholars throughout history who have contributed significantly to the conception, and advancement, of fairminded critical societies. Russell scholars may come from any subject, field, or discipline, or from any domain of human thought. 
This year's scholar is public citizen Ralph Nader. All conference participants are invited to participate in the Russell program. Only conference registrants will be admitted.

Ralph Nader, Public Citizen

Honored by Time Magazine as "One of the 100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century" and as "One of the 100 Most Influential Figures in American History" by The Atlantic, consumer advocate and Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader has devoted his life to giving ordinary people the tools they need to defend themselves against corporate negligence and government indifference. With a tireless, selfless dedication, he continues to expose and remedy the dangers that threaten a free and safe society. 

Nader's foray into public life began in 1965 when he took on the Goliath of the auto industry with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a shocking expose of the disregard that the automobile industry held for the safety of their customers. The Senate hearing into Nader's accusations, and the resulting life-saving motor vehicle safety laws, catapulted Nader into the public sphere. 

Nader quickly built on the momentum of that success. Working with lawmakers, he was instrumental in creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Laws he helped draft and pass include the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Meat and Poultry Inspection Rules, the Air and Water Pollution Control Laws, and the Freedom of Information Act. Working to empower the average American, Nader has formed numerous citizen groups, including the Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen, the Pension Rights Center, the National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest, and the student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) that operate in over 20 states.

Successfully predicting the current financial crisis years ago, Nader has outlined a ten-point plan for recovery. His plan involves sweeping reforms for the financial and housing markets, as well as increased public accountability for any institution seeking a bailout. Nader has also defended the integrity of public office by rallying against the laws allowing multinational corporations to make unlimited donations to political campaigns. 

Among his best-selling books are Crashing the Party: How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for PresidentWinning the Insurance GameWhy Women Pay More, and Getting the Best from Your Doctor. Other titles include Children First: A Parent's Guide to Fighting Corporate PredatorsNo Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America, and The Ralph Nader Reader. He also writes a weekly column, "In the Public Interest," which runs in newspapers around the US. 

Both citizens and corporate audiences listen intently to what Nader has to say. Years after they graduate, college students tell him how his lecture changed their lives. His message is simple and compelling: "To go through life as a non-citizen would be to feel there's nothing you can do, that nobody's listening, that you don't matter. But to be a citizen is to enjoy the deep satisfaction of seeing the prevention of pain, misery, and injustice."

For more information on Mr. Nader, visit

DAY TWO — AFTERNOON (choose one)

Assessing Students' Critical Thinking Dr. Gerald Nosich

The purpose of assessment in instruction is improvement. The purpose of assessing instruction for critical thinking is improving the teaching of discipline-based thinking (historical, biological, sociological, mathematical, and so on). It is to improve students’ abilities to think their way through content by using disciplined skill in reasoning. The more particular we can be about what we want students to learn about critical thinking, the better can we devise instruction to serve that purpose. Unfortunately, standardized tests now widely used in critical thinking are not designed to impact instruction. There is a significant disconnect between what standardized tests assess and what we want students to learn. This session will focus on methods for integrating assessment and critical thinking across the curriculum. It will also introduce participants to some of the critical thinking assessment tools offered by the Foundation for Critical Thinking. This workshop is designed for faculty and administrators at the secondary level and above. Click Here for our white paper on testing and assessment 

Emotional Intelligence: a Conceptual Model… Dr. Linda Elder & Dr. Richard Paul

To develop emotional intelligence is to achieve command of the workings of our minds, for it is our minds that generate our thoughts, feelings, and desires. It is our students’ minds that control not only how they study and learn, but also how they make decisions and conduct their lives. To develop as emotionally intelligent persons, we need to understand the relationship between thoughts and emotions. To be in command of one’s emotional life is to have command of the faculties of mind that determine it: thoughts, emotions, and desires working, as they do, in concert. Student emotions play a significant role in how, and to what extent, they learn in a given setting. The emotions they bring to the classroom (connected with the thinking that gives rise to these emotions) largely determine the level at which they are able to learn. When they bring learned indifference, irrational fears, acquired hostility, and inflexible ideas into the classroom, their learning is limited to the superficial. It is important that students recognize the universal challenges we all face as largely egocentric and sociocentric persons.

This session provides a structure for helping students (and all people) improve the quality of their emotional experiences – in all parts of life - by commanding the thoughts and feelings that determine that quality. Our approach is based on a conceptual, rather than scientific, orientation to human thought and emotion. Theory to be explored will focus on the relationship between cognition and affect, and the importance of commanding one’s egocentric tendencies as one works to cultivate emotional intelligence within oneself. Activities designed to help students gain command of their emotional lives will be briefly explored.

Intellectual Virtues - Essential to the Public Citizen … Dr. Rush Cosgrove

We do not now teach for the intellectual virtues. If we did, not only would we have a basis for integrating the curriculum, we would also have a basis for integrating the cognitive and affective lives of students. Such integration is the basis for strong sense critical thinking, for moral development, and for citizenship. The moral, social, and political issues we face in everyday life are increasingly intellectually complex. Their settlement relies on circumstances and events that are interpreted in a variety of (often conflicting) ways…Good heartedness and power are insufficient for creating a just world. Some modest development of the intellectual virtues seems essential for future human survival and well-being…This is certain: we will never succeed in cultivating traits whose roots we do not understand and whose development we do not foster.

Richard Paul, How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World, 1995, p. 268  

If we hope to cultivate fairminded critical societies in the long run, the active pursuit of intellectual virtues must become an explicit, permanent human value. To foster critical societies requires that we go beyond merely teaching critical thinking “skills and abilities,” to the active cultivation, in every institution throughout the world, of such intellectual character traits as intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, intellectual autonomy, intellectual empathy, intellectual integrity, confidence in reasoning, fairmindedness.

This session presents intellectual virtues as integral to education and to the public citizen. We will discuss essential intellectual virtues, exploring how to better cultivate them in our own thought, as well as how to more explicitly bring them into teaching and learning.

The Role of Close Reading and Substantive Writing in Education, in the Mind of the Public Citizen and Throughout LifeDr. Paul Bankes

Educated persons are skilled at, and routinely engage in, close reading and substantive writing. When reading, they seek to learn from texts; they generate questions as they read, and they seek answers to those questions by reading widely and skillfully. In short, they seek to become better educated through reading. They do this through the process of intellectually interacting with the texts they read, as they read. They come to understand what they read by paraphrasing, elaborating, exemplifying, and illustrating it. They make connections as they read. They evaluate as they read. They bring important ideas into their thinking as they read. Substantive writing, in turn, consists in focusing on a subject worth writing about and then saying something worth saying about it. It enhances our reading. Whenever we read to acquire knowledge, we should write to take ownership of the texts we read. Furthermore, just as we must write to gain an initial understanding of a subject's primary ideas, so also must we write to begin thinking within the subject as a whole, as well as to make connections between ideas within and beyond the subject. Quite remarkably, many of our students have never read a text closely, nor written in a substantive way. Instead, they have developed the habit of skirting by with superficial and impressionistic reading, writing, and listening. This session will explore basic, foundational processes for developing student skills in close reading, and in substantive writing. The aim is for these processes to become internalized and used throughout life as powerful tools for continual development.


Concurrent sessions - TBA

If you would like to send a proposal for a concurrent session, please contact Foundation for Critical Thinking Fellow, Rush Cosgrove, at

Concurrent sessions are one hour in length. Most sessions are conducted by faculty and administrators who have been working with critical thinking concepts and principles for several years by bringing critical thinking into individual classrooms or across the curriculum.

Also, plan now to attend the Bertrand Russell Distinguished Scholars Conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Loftus. More on this presently…


DAY THREE — AFTERNOON (choose one) 

What Current Research Reveals about the State of Critical Thinking in Education Today... Dr. Rush Cosgrove

“The development of critical thinking is a desirable outcome of education not only because it contributes to the intellectual and social competence of the individual and helps him to meet his problems more intelligently and more effectively, but also because it helps him to cooperate better with his fellow men.  It helps him form intelligent judgments on public issues and contribute democratically to the solution of social problems.”

Edward Glaser, 1941

This session will present an overview of the seminal research in what we might term the emerging field of Critical Thinking Studies. Beginning in 1941 with Edward Maynard Glaser’s doctoral dissertation, An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking, this session will briefly consider, from a historical perspective, insights on critical thinking from diverse sources: philosophy, cognitive psychology, critical theory, education, developmental psychology, and others. Further, we will explore the extent to which critical thinking has been fostered in teaching and learning during the past half century or so (in the U.S.), and to consider the possibility that researchers are gradually moving towards more rigorous methodologies for studying critical thinking. Implications for teaching and learning will be discussed, as well as for the future development of critical thinking theory and research, and for an emerging field of critical thinking studies.


The Role of Essential Questions in Education and in Cultivating the Public Citizen... Dr. Gerald Nosich

It is not possible to be a good thinker and a poor questioner. Questions define tasks, express problems, and delineate issues. They drive thinking forward. Answers, on the other hand, often bring an end to thought. Only when an answer generates further questions does thought continue as inquiry. A mind with no questions is a mind that is not intellectually alive. No questions (asked) equals no understanding (achieved). Superficial questions lead to superficial understandings, unclear questions lead to unclear understandings. If your mind is not actively generating questions, you are not engaged in substantive learning.

Students must learn to generate and reason through essential questions in academic disciplines to prepare themselves for reasoning with skill and discipline through the problems they face and will face throughout their lives - including in their role as public citizens.

Hence these questions are raised:

  • How can we teach so that our students learn to generate questions that lead to deep learning and the cultivation of powerful intellectual skills?
  • What role do questions play in the mind of the cultivated public citizen?
  • How can we teach so that students learn to generate (and reason within) essential questions in all domains of life?
In this session we will focus on practical strategies for helping students generate essential questions within subjects and disciplines ---so they are better able to think through content, to reason through life’s everyday problems, and to create a more just world through their role as public citizens.

For Administrators: Key Ingredients of an Effective Professional Development Program in Critical Thinking... Dr. Linda Elder & Dr. Richard Paul

Education is to inspire the love of truth as the supremest good, and to clarify the vision of the intellect to discern it.  We want a generation of men above deciding great and eternal principles upon narrow and selfish grounds.  Our advanced state of civilization has evolved many complicated questions respecting social duties.  We want a generation of men capable of taking up these complex questions, and of turning all sides of them toward the sun, and of examining them by the white light of reason, not under the false colors which sophistry may throw upon them.

Horace Mann, 1840 (found in Horace Mann, His Ideas and Ideals, by J.E. Morgan, 1936, pp. 93-94).

Critical thinking, deeply understood, provides a rich set of concepts that enable us to think our way through any subject or discipline and through any problem or issue. With a substantive concept of critical thinking clearly in mind, we begin to see the pressing need for a staff development program that fosters critical thinking within - and across - the curriculum. As we come to understand a substantive concept of critical thinking, we are able to follow-out its implications in designing a professional development program. By means of it, we begin to see important implications for every part of the institution – redesigning policies, providing administrative support for critical thinking, rethinking the mission, coordinating and providing faculty workshops in critical thinking, redefining faculty as learners as well as teachers, and assessing students, faculty, and the institution as a whole in terms of critical thinking abilities and traits. We realize that robust critical thinking should be the guiding force for all of our educational efforts.

This session presents a professional development model that can provide the vehicle for deep change across the curriculum and across the institution. It will utilize Linda Elder’s article on professional development, published in TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION.

What it means to be a Public Citizen: Exploring Ralph Nader's Philosophy and World View... Mr. Brian Barnes

Look at the United States today. Can anyone deny that this country has more problems than it deserves and more solutions than it uses?...There seems to be less and less relationship between the country’s total wealth and its willingness to solve the ills and injustices that beset it. The spirit of pioneering and problem-solving is weak. National, state, and local political leadership is vague at best, manipulative at worst. Facing the world, the United States stands as an uncertain giant with uncertain purposes toward a world in great need of its help and encouragement (p. 338).

The exercise by citizens of their rights and responsibilities is what makes a working democracy ever sensitive to the just needs of its people…For increasing numbers of Americans, citizenship should become a full-time career role, supported by other citizens, to work on major institutions of government and business for better society. It is this fundamental role of the public citizen in a democracy that must attract more adherents and supporters from across America (p. 341).

Ralph Nader, the Ralph Nader Reader

For almost a half-century, Ralph Nader has advocated for a rich idea of the public citizen and the responsibility of the people to embrace this idea. In this session we will explore the concept of the public citizen in connection with a rich concept of education. Using material from Nader’s Bertrand Russell Lecture and Conversation, as well as additional short readings by Nader, we will explore, discuss, and attempt to work out Nader’s view of the public citizen. We will consider the importance of Nader’s conception of the public citizen to education, properly so called, and to critical thinking in the strong sense. We will work through the content as “scholars” or students thinking through these questions:

1.     What is Nader’s concept of the public citizen?

2.     How does this concept interrelate with a rich concept of education?

3.     How do these two ideas interrelate with critical thinking in the strongest sense?

DAY FOUR — MORNING (choose one) 

Sociocentrism - a Primary Barrier to the Development of the Public Citizen… Dr. Linda Elder & Dr. Richard Paul

Many of the deep-seated habits that humans acquire come from the process of being socialized or indoctrinated into the beliefs of society. Much of what we think or do, we have been taught to think or do by the social groups that have shaped us. Those who want to free themselves from indoctrination, to become intellectually emancipated, must understand this problem as a significant barrier to their development and begin seeing its influence on their daily thinking. Those concerned with cultivating public citizens must understand the powerful barrier of sociocentricity to progressive thought and the advancement of human societies.

Living a human life entails membership in a variety of human groups. This typically includes groups such as nation, culture, profession, religion, family, and peer group. We find ourselves participating in groups before we are aware of ourselves as living beings. We find ourselves in groups in virtually every setting in which we function as persons. What is more, every group to which we belong has some social definition of itself and some usually unspoken “rules” that guide the behavior of all members. Each group to which we belong imposes some level of conformity on us as a condition of acceptance. This includes a set of beliefs, behaviors, and taboos.

For most people, blind conformity to group restrictions is automatic and unreflective. Most effortlessly conform without recognizing their conformity. They internalize group norms and beliefs, take on the group identity, and act as they are expected to act—without the least sense that what they are doing might reasonably be questioned. Most people function within social groups as unreflective participants in a range of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that are analogous - in the structures to which they conform - to those of urban street gangs. Conformity of thought and behavior is the rule in humans, independence the rare exception. This is a primary reason for the lack of public citizens, as well as for the internal conflict frequently found among even those advocating for the public good.

This session will focus on the problem of sociocentric thinking as a barrier to cultivating the educated person and the public citizen.

Fostering Multilogical Thinking Across the Disciplines… Dr. Gerald Nosich

When we foster multi-logical thinking in education, we foster students' abilities to sympathetically enter into, consider, and reason within multiple points of view. Most significant human issues require multi-logical thinking. They are non-atomic issues inextricably joined to other issues, with some conceptual messiness to them, often with important values lurking in the background. When the issues have an empirical dimension, they tend to be controversial. In dealing with multi-logical problems, people often disagree about how at least some of the facts relevant to it should be interpreted and how the significance of these facts should be determined. When these problems have a conceptual dimension, the concepts usually can be pinned down in different ways. Thus, the ability to reason multi-logically is essential to critical thinking. A student who is comfortable thinking through multi-logical problems is comfortable thinking within multiple perspectives, engaging in dialogical and dialectical thinking, practicing intellectual empathy, and thinking across disciplines and domains.

This session will focus on teaching students to reason through multi-logical issues in any subject, discipline, or domain of human thought.

Teaching Students to Give Feedback Using Intellectual Standards… Dr. Rush Cosgrove

To acquire substantive knowledge, students need: 1) engagement in the active construction of knowledge, and 2) critical feedback for that construction. This session will focus on the second need - that of receiving feedback on one’s “construction” of ideas or beliefs. In this session we will attempt to replicate the process developed by Drs. Paul and Elder in which students learn to incrementally improve their ability to assess reasoning by actively applying essential intellectual standards to their own, and their peers’, papers (on a typical day in the college classroom).  Through this process, students help others think more clearly, accurately, precisely, relevantly, deeply, broadly, logically, and fairly (as they learn to do so themselves).  

In this session, participants will write brief “papers” and then give and receive feedback on these papers using intellectual standards under the “direction” of the “teacher” (presenter). By engaging participants in rigorously applying intellectual standards to products of their reasoning (their papers), the presenter will model the kind of disciplined reasoning we will require in teaching and learning when we foster deep thinking through content. For those conference delegates reluctant to participate in this session, for fear of sharing their written work through this process, remember that we will be less concerned with the quality of your thinking (as we see in your writing) than with the process we hope you might internalize - to use routinely in instruction. This session will be lively and engaging.