The Breakthrough Dialogues: Innovating Ideas
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
TED meetings, Aspen Institutes, SXSW, and Sundance are all billed as “thought-leader gatherings” where “rock stars” emerge from their “silos” to learn about “disruptive” ideas that have been carefully “curated,” as New York magazine recently described. Yet in America's polarized culture, are these events as ideologically diverse and cross-cutting as they should be?
Convening experts from a diversity of political backgrounds at these types of forums is important on a number of grounds. The social bonding, positive emotions, and competitive collegiality that develop within ideologically cross-cutting forums can serve as the engines for innovative policy ideas on issues ranging from health care to energy, forging networks of trust. Universities in particular should view themselves as critically important sponsors and conveners of cross-cutting public dialogue.
One of the more inspiring and cross-cutting thought leader forums I have had the opportunity to participate in occurred last year at the Breakthrough Dialogues, convened by the liberal think tank The Breakthrough Institute. Below is a highlight reel on the weekend, organized around the theme of "Modernizing Liberalism." You can also watch a range of the speakers discuss their ideas and proposals via a multi-media hub based on the event. The next Breakthrough Dialogue is coming up at the end of June. I am looking forward to attending and will be blogging about the ideas discussed.
It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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