Telluride Science: Town Talk at The Depot, 7/19!

Telluride Science: Town Talk at The Depot, 7/19!

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The historic Telluride Depot, the new home of Telluride Science.


Telluride Science tackles a tough and timely topic this week. Just raising the issue of freedom of speech in academia elicits immediate and visceral responses, often with reactive assumptions of the perspectives of others. There is hesitancy to speak about the issue publicly because of fears of reprisals and misunderstanding.

This Tuesday, July 19th at 6:30pm at the Telluride Depot, 300 S. Townsend St., Telluride Science will host a special Town Talk panel titled, “Free Speech: The case for open intellectual discourse in science.” The conversation, moderated by Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalists Judy Muller and George Lewis, will feature Anna Krylov, Luana Maroja, and Curt Wittig.

Anna Krylov


Curt Wittig


Luana Maroja

Renowned physicist Richard Feynman once said, “There is no authority who decides what is a good idea,” and nowhere more so than in science is it crucial to be able to be able to speak freely and to challenge accepted knowledge in pursuit of truth.

Increasing constraints on free speech in science and academia prompted Krylov, a Telluride Science Board Member and a theoretical chemist at the University of Southern California, to advocate for change. In 2021, Krylov published “The Peril of Politicizing Science” in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. As a scientist trained in the former Soviet Union, Krylov has seen the effects of politically controlled academic conversation; her paper warns against the growing influence of politics, ideology, and moralization (“political correctness”) in science. The paper has been widely read and has invigorated a national conversation about the issue. For her efforts, Krylov was recently awarded a Communicator of the Year Award from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Also from the University of Southern California, the highly acclaimed and pioneering physical chemist, Curt Wittig, will add his voice to the conversation. Wittig’s long and storied career has informed his own perspective on the impact of couched speech in science.

Rounding out the panel, Maroja, a biochemist from Williams College, will provide another glimpse into the experience of a professor in today’s socially-charged academic environment. Her own experience led her to write about the subject in The Atlantic and take part in several recent forums and debates on the topic. Maroja is concerned about the tendency of students to avoid facts that make them uncomfortable. As she noted in her Atlantic article, “…by not talking about science that some find unsettling, we deny students opportunities for learning and for intellectual empowerment. How well can they argue their positions effectively unless they are seeing the world as it really is?”

This free public event is presented by Telluride Science. With a network of over 5,000 preeminent scientists from over 90 countries and 500 institutions, Telluride Science generates the fundamental knowledge base for new solutions in many fields, including energy, medicine, water, climate, national security, and advanced materials for computing and manufacturing.

The conversation is sure to be thought-provoking and informative. Doors will open at 6pm on July 19 at the Telluride Depot, 300 S. Townsend. This will be the first public event sponsored by Telluride Science at their new permanent home. Renovations to transform the building into the Telluride Science & Innovation Center are scheduled to begin in October 2022.

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