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40th Annual International Conference Main Page



The 40th Annual International Conference on

Critical Thinking


...The Longest-Running Critical Thinking Conference in the World

Entirely Online with Real-Time Study Groups 




Begins September 18, 2020
& Runs Several Weeks

Pre-Conference: September 18 & 19


Includes two months' free membership at the
Center for Critical Thinking Community Online!
(Free membership begins September 15, 2020.)

This Year's Online Conference

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the fact that many of you cannot travel, the 40th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking has been moved to the fall and will occur entirely online - but with lots of (virtual) face to face contact! We will utilize a virtual platform featuring prerecorded presentations, online activities, supplemental digital reading material, and real-time online discussion groups including question-answer sessions with presenters. This will enable you to:

  • view all presentations on your own time, and
  • participate in real-time discussions with our Fellows and Scholars, and with Guest Presenters, based on those presentations. All Discussion Groups will be held online, and you will join using your web cameras or phones so all participants and facilitators can see one another. If you do not have a camera available, you can still join via audio or text chat.

One advantage of the online format is that you can watch all available presentations, rather than having to choose among several happening at once. We will prerecord our already-announced Focal Sessions, and are welcoming all accepted Concurrent and Roundtable Presenters to send in prerecorded presentations, now as Guest Presenters. We are also reopening our Call for Proposals until June 15, 2020. These presentations will be followed by live online discussion groups with the respective presenters, focused on the content they've presented.

All Focal Presentations and Guest Presentations will be viewable to participants at the start of the Main Conference on September 20. The  Live Discussion Groups based on those presentations will begin September 20   and continue through at least the end of October (to accommodate scheduling for all discussion groups). You will choose from a schedule of Discussion Groups once they are scheduled (to be announced by August 15). You will need to view the prerecorded presentations prior to participating in their respective Discussion Groups.

We are also holding a Pre-Conference on September 18-19, which will be held online in real time via webcam, and will use an interactive workshop format.

Read below for more details on the conference design.

All registration fees already paid will be good for the postponed dates.

Types of Presentations and Sessions

Focal Presentations

Focal Presentations will be prerecorded (followed by scheduled interactive Discussion Groups) by Fellows and Visiting Scholars of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. They are 'Focal' because they focus on the very foundations, or the central ideas, in a rich conception of critical thinking. Each Focal Session targets one or more essential concepts or sets of principles in critical thinking, often in connection with essential applications of critical thinking.

Focal Presentations may include online activities to help you internalize the concepts and applications being presented, and may also be accompanied by supplementary digital publications to be referenced during the sessions. Because some activities will take place on the Center for Critical Thinking Community Online, everyone who registers for the conference will receive two months of free membership there (with membership beginning September 15).

Click here to see a list of the Focal Presentations.

Guest Presentations

Guest Presentations will be prerecorded (and followed by scheduled interactive Discussion Groups) by conference participants whose proposals have been approved by Fellows of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. These are presentations in which presenters share their experiences in bringing critical thinking into the teaching and learning process, into daily decision-making, throughout organizations or departments, or into any other aspect of work or life. Guest Presenters may share their research in critical thinking, or their developed theory and application of critical thinking. 

Guest Presentations will be listed soon on this website.

We are re-opening our Call for Proposals until June 15, and look forward to giving more of you the opportunity to present. Click here to see guidelines for submitting a proposal.

Discussion Groups

All presentations will be followed by scheduled online Discussion Groups, in which attendees will be able to participate via video feed, audio feed, or text chat (depending on their available technology). Presenters will elaborate on and contextualize their presentations during these discussions, and participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.

The number of Discussion Groups following each Focal Presentation will  be determined by the number of registrants interested in discussing that presentation, while each Guest Presenter will hold at least two Discussions Groups based on his or her presentation.

The Discussion Group Schedule will be made available to all participants throughout the conference.

Pre-Conference 

Pre-Conference Sessions will be held in real time online and will be  led by Fellows and Scholars of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. These sessions will be held September 18-19 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time (1:00 - 4:00 p.m. Pacific) They will address foundational concepts, principles, and applications of critical thinking. 

Click here to see a list of the Pre-Conference Sessions.

Conference Rates

Registration Options
Cost Per Person
Early-Bird Rates - If Paid by July 12, 2020 1 Person 2-3 people 4-6 People 7 or More
Main Conference Only
$495.00 $480.00 $455.00 $430.00
Main Conference & Pre-Conference $595.00 $575.00 $545.00 $515.00
Standard Rates - If Paid AFTER July 12, 2020 1 Person 2-3 people 4-6 People 7 or More
Main Conference Only $585.00 $565.00 $530.00 $495.00
Main Conference & Pre-Conference $695.00 $670.00 $630.00 $590.00
Pre-Conference Only - Pay Any Time Before  September 12 1 Person 2-3 people 4-6 People 7 or More
Pre-Conference Only $195.00 $185.00 $165.00 $145.00



Focal Sessions and Presentations 


Click titles for descriptions
. . .


Critical Thinking in Education


Critical Thinking in Business and Government


Critical Thinking in Personal Life and Society

Focal And Pre-Conference Presenters


Dr. Linda Elder

Dr. Linda Elder is an educational psychologist and international authority on critical thinking. President and Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Critical Thinking, she has taught psychology and critical thinking at the college level, and has given presentations to more than 50,000 educators and leaders. She is author of Liberating the Mind: Overcoming Sociocentric Thought and Egocentric Tendencies , and has coauthored four books (including 30 Days to Better Thinking and Better Living through Critical Thinking and Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life) as well as 24 Thinker's Guides on critical thinking. Concerned with understanding and illuminating the relationship between thinking and affect, as well as the barriers to critical thinking, Dr. Elder has placed these issues at the center of her thinking and work.


Dr. Gerald Nosich

Dr. Gerald Nosich is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Critical Thinking and a prominent authority on critical thinking. He has given more than 150 national and international workshops on critical thinking, has worked with the U.S. Department of Education on a project for the National Assessment of Higher Order Thinking skills, has served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Critical Thinking, and has been featured as a Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Nosich is Professor Emeritus at SUNY Buffalo State and the University of New Orleans, and is the author of three books including Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum and Critical Writing: Using the Concepts and Processes of Critical Thinking to Write a Paper (forthcoming in 2020 or 2021, Rowman & Littlefield).



Ms. Carmen Polka

Ms. Carmen Polka has worked diligently to infuse critical thinking into her classroom instruction, curriculum, and assessment for more than eighteen years. Focused on transforming education through the implementation of quality instructional practices, Ms. Polka instigated and co-authored the Colorado Academic State Standards targeting research and reasoning based on the Paul-Elder framework. As a leader and critical thinking expert in her district, she led professional development and coached K-12 teachers to effectively utilize Paulian theory.

Ms. Polka is currently a principal at an elementary school, as well as a Doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at the University of Northern Colorado. She is also a licensed K-12 Special Education teacher.


Dr. Paul Bankes

For nearly twenty years, Dr. Paul Bankes has played an important leadership role in fostering the Paulian conception of critical thinking in multiple school districts. As a principal, he led the implementation of this critical thinking approach to bring about state-recognized levels of achievement in three different Title I schools – a high school, a middle school, and an elementary school. He helped author the reasoning portion of the Colorado Academic Standards that are based on the Paul-Elder framework. In addition to his administrative experience, Dr. Bankes was an elementary school teacher, continues teaching critical thinking courses at the college level, and is currently serving as a Director on his School Board of Education.



Dr. Brian Barnes

Dr. Brian Barnes holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Humanities and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Louisville. Barnes is a veteran of the US Army, along with other non-academic careers, and currently teaches face-to-face and online classes at several universities in traditional philosophy topics, sustainability, and critical thinking. He has co-authored articles examining critical thinking strategies and tactics for the National Teaching and Learning Forum and is author of the textbook, The Central Question: Critical Engagement with Business Ethics . Barnes co-hosts the weekly radio show, Critical Thinking for Everyone! , on 106.5 Forward Radio in Louisville; he also created Adventures in Critical Thinking , a critical thinking comic book series.



About the Conference and the
Foundation for Critical Thinking

Since 1981, The Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking – sister organizations that together represent the world's oldest think tank dedicated to critical thinking – have hosted the world's longest- running critical thinking conference. The conference emphasizes the Paul-Elder Framework for Critical Thinking, which stands apart from other critical thinking theory in that, first, it applies to all human thought in all fields, professions, and domains of life; second, it relies on natural, rather than technical, language to provide tools and concepts that enable the thinker to break down, assess, and enhance his or her own thinking; third, it accounts for human emotions and desires; and fourth, it emphasizes the importance of ethics in reasoning.

Regardless of your professional, educational, or personal background, the Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking provides a unique opportunity for you to improve your understanding of critical thinking, as well as your ability to apply it to your everyday work, learning, and life.