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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

July 22 – July 26, 2020

in

The Arkansas Ozarks




Pre-Conference: July 22

Main Conference: July 23 - 26


Note: Rental cars will be needed by those who do not stay in our room block. For details, see our Travel and Lodging Page.



About the Conference

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.

Types of Conference Sessions

Focal Sessions

Focal Sessions are led by Fellows and Visiting Scholars of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. These sessions 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. Most Focal Sessions are appropriate for both new and returning attendees, while one this year will be clearly designated an 'Advanced Session,' formulated with returning attendees in mind.

Whenever there are Focal Sessions, several take place at the same time; when you register, you will be able to choose which ones you wish to attend.

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Session Presentations are conducted by conference participants whose proposals have been approved by Fellows of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. These are sessions 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. Concurrent presenters may share their research in critical thinking, or their developed theory and application of critical thinking. 

There are typically 4-6 of these sessions scheduled during each Concurrent Session block. You will receive a copy of the Concurrent Session Program at the conference, and will be free to choose whichever sessions you would like to attend. The Concurrent program will also appear on this website as proposals are approved.

Roundtable Discussions

Like Concurrent Sessions, Roundtable Discussion Presentations are conducted by conference participants whose proposals have been approved by Fellows of the Foundation for Critical Thinking.  However, these discussions are held in circles, and are more discourse-based than other session types. Each approved Roundtable Presenter will begin with a 5-10 minute presentation, which will then open into a Socratic dialogue among everyone in the circle. (In some instances, two or more Roundtable Discussions may be combined; in such cases, each Discussion leader will take turns presenting before the dialogue begins.) 

All Roundtable Discussions take place concurrently. Participants are free to attend whichever ones they wish, and can move between discussions after initial presentations are finished. You will receive a copy of the Roundtable program at the conference, and this program will also appear on this website as proposals are approved.

Conference Rates

Registration Options
Cost Per Person
Early-Bird Rates - If Paid by May 22, 2020 1 Person 2-3 people 4-6 People 7 or More
Main Conference Only
$790.00 $760.00 $735.00 $685.00
Main Conference & Pre-Conference $995.00 $950.00 $915.00 $850.00
Standard Rates - If Paid AFTER May 22, 2020 1 Person 2-3 people 4-6 People 7 or More
Main Conference Only $870.00 $835.00 $810.00 $755.00
Main Conference & Pre-Conference $1,095.00 $1,045.00 $1,005.00 $935.00
 Pre-Conference Only - Pay Any Time Before July 14 1 Person 2-3 people 4-6 People 7 or More
Pre-Conference Only $240.00 $225.00 $215.00 $195.00

Registration fees cover tuition, learning materials, and beverages like coffee and tea. Attendees will need to arrange for their own lodging and meals.

The Venues

Join us in the Ozarks in Bentonville, Arkansas! All Conference sessions and activities will take place in several Downtown venues, all within easy walking distance of each other:

 

Information on transportation and lodging, including a map of the Downtown Bentonville area, can be viewed on this page !


Call for Critical Thinking Ambassadors


Those who register as ambassadors for critical thinking have attended one or more of our conferences, events, online courses, or professional development programs; they are committed to advancing fairminded critical thinking within their circles of influence, at work, and throughout life. By registering as an ambassador for critical thinking, you are showing willingness to welcome newcomers to our conference, and to share with them your commitment to advancing ethical critical thinking.

To register for the conference as an ambassador for critical thinking, be sure to select one of the registration options that is clearly marked, 'VOLUNTEER AMBASSADOR.'

Focal Session 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 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, and 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 two books including Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum .

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 more than seventeen 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.


Overview of Sessions

July 22:

9:00 a.m.

Choose one of the following sessions to attend…

  • For Higher Education: Foundations of Critical Thinking: Essential Tools for Teaching and Learning in Every Field of Study at Every Level… Dr. Brian Barnes
  • For K-12: Foundations of Critical Thinking: Essential Tools for Teaching and Learning in Every Field of Study at Every Level… Dr. Paul Bankes and Ms. Carmen Polka
  • Teaching Students to Write Significant Papers Using Explicit Tools of Critical Thinking… Dr. Gerald Nosich

July 23:

9:00 a.m.

Opening Ceremony and Keynote Address for all attendees…

  • Why Intellectual Traits Are Essential to Critical Thinking Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Gerald Nosich


10:30 a.m.

Choose one of the following sessions to attend…

  • Using Peer Review on a Typical Day to Foster Substantive Critical Thinking… Ms. Carmen Polka
  • Teaching Students to Use Critical Thinking Standards to Assess Reasoning… Dr. Gerald Nosich
  • Bringing Rigorous Standards for Thought to Business and Government for Higher Level Reasoning… Dr. Brian Barnes

1:30 p.m.

Choose one of the following sessions to attend…

  • Teaching Students to Think Within the Logic of a Field or Discipline… Dr. Gerald Nosich
  • Fostering Critical Thinking in the Secondary Classroom… Dr. Paul Bankes
  • Tools of Rigorous Analysis for Business and Government… Dr. Brian Barnes
  • Advanced Session: Why I Read in the Classics and Why Students (and You) Should Too… Dr. Linda Elder

July 24:

9:00 a.m.

Choose one of the following sessions to attend…

  • Bringing Robust Questions into Teaching and Learning at a Practical Level... Dr. Brian Barnes
  • Helping Students Think Through Complexities Using Critical Thinking... Dr. Gerald Nosich
  • For Administrators: How to Develop a Successful Long-Term Staff Development Plan that Fosters Critical Thinking… Dr. Paul Bankes and Dr. Carmen Polka


1:30 p.m.

For all attendees…

  • Roundtable Discussions: Choose at the conference.

2:50 p.m.

Choose one of the following sessions to attend…

  • Using the Practical Tools of Critical Thinking to Teach Students How to Study and Learn… Dr. Gerald Nosich
  • Cultivating Evidence-Based Decision- Making in Business and Government... Dr. Brian Barnes 
  • Liberating the Mind Through Critical Thinking… Dr. Linda Elder

7:00 p.m.

For all attendees and local community...
  • Evening Social, Silent Auction, and Live Music

July 25:

9:00 a.m.

For all attendees…

  • Concurrent Sessions I: Choose at the conference.

10:10 a.m.

For all attendees…

  • Concurrent Sessions II: Choose at the conference.

11:20 a.m.

For all attendees…

  • Concurrent Sessions III: Choose at the conference.

1:40 p.m.

For all attendees…

  • Concurrent Sessions IV: Choose at the conference.

2:50 p.m.

For all attendees…

  • Concurrent Sessions V: Choose at the conference.

July 26:

9:00 a.m.

Choose one of the following sessions to attend…

  • Designing Instruction So That Students Learn to Think Things Through… Dr. Gerald Nosich
  • Critical Reading as a Primary Tool for Educating the Mind… Ms. Carmen Polka
  • Tackling Climate Change Through the Tools of Criticality… Dr. Brian Barnes


11:00 a.m.

Closing session for all attendees…

  • Bringing It All Together and Beginning to Develop a Plan for Moving Forward… All Fellows and Scholars 

1:30 p.m.

Open to the Public:

  • International Summit on How to Use Critical Thinking to Advance Fairminded Critical Societies