The theme for the British Science Association’s (BSA) For Thought in 2023 is ‘Science, innovation, and national priorities: Deciding the future of food, education, and health’.

View the programme

For Thought is an invitation-only event for senior leaders in business, policy, science and civil society to catalyse progress towards solving society’s biggest challenges. This year it takes place Tuesday 14 November.

The programme

The panel discussions and provocations will hone in on areas that have impacted our society this year, and will be central to national discussions in the lead up to the anticipated general election in 2024.

The past twelve months has seen change and disruption in key areas of UK society. Rising prices have shone a light on the issue of food security; advances in AI are shifting the education and skills landscape; and new applications of health technology could change how conditions are diagnosed and treated. In each of these areas, science and innovation are driving progress, but also presenting questions about the long-term future of systems that underpin daily life.

As with previous years, the day is divided into three chapters:

Chapter 1: The future of education

In the past 12 months, advances in ‘large language models’ (AI technologies which understand and generate text) have accelerated discussions on the impact of AI on education and skills.

How do we provide people with the skills to take advantage of AI? How should our education system change in a digital age?

Chapter 2: The future of health

Tackling “non-infectious” conditions (such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and chronic lung conditions) is key to improving the health and wellbeing of the UK, and addressing health inequalities.

Genomics, behavioural sciences, and use of data could all contribute to a healthcare system that it is more focused on early intervention and the prevention of non-infectious conditions. What are the benefits and risks of different approaches to prevention? How can the NHS be supported to translate innovations to treatments and services?

Chapter 3: The future of food

People and communities across the UK are have been faced with rapidly increasing food costs and empty supermarket shelves in the early part of 2023, caused by combinations of climate shocks, energy prices, and labour shortages. Public health experts, the farming community, major retailers, and hospitality leaders have all signalled that we need to rethink the way the UK produces, imports, and sells food.

How should our food system change in the face of the climate crisis, increased energy costs, and cost-of-living pressures?

Our speakers

Our cross-sector cohort of speakers and attendees will be sharing their experiences and knowledge, enabling connections between organisations who may have not been aware of others’ involvement in these areas. For Thought also offers attendees the chance to apply learnings from science and technology to their day-to-day.

This year’s speakers are:

  • Caitlin Bentley, Lecturer in AI Education, Kings College London
  • Mary Curnock Cook, Chair, Pearson Education Ltd
  • Balwinder Dhoot, Director of Sustainability, Food and Drink Federation
  • Anisha Fernandez, Author and podcaster (Naughty Bites)
  • Tim Lang, Professor Emeritus of Food Policy, City University
  • Praful Nargund, Education and skills campaigner
  • Sharmila Nebhrajani, Chair, NICE
  • Hannah Pathak, International Managing Director, Forum for the Future
  • Sir Anthony Seldon, Author and Head of Epsom College
  • Cathie Sudlow, Deputy Director, Health Data Research UK
  • Rachel Sylvester, Chair, Times Health Commission
  • Gaia Vince, Author and broadcaster

More speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

The event will be moderated by Alok Jha, science and technology editor at The Economist. 

For Thought is chaired jointly by Hilary Newiss (Chair of the British Science Association) and Lord David Willetts (President of the Resolution Foundation and Chair of the UK Space Agency).

Visit the For Thought website