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Critical thinking is fundamental to the secular movement, and to everything in life. There is no better long-term way to promote rational thought than to teach it explicitly as part of school curricula, from kindergarten to graduate school.

critical-thinking-academy01The Foundation for Critical Thinking was founded in 1980 as the first center on critical thinking in the world. Our approach to teach critical thinking is used more widely than any other because it's the most integrated, it utilizes natural languages rather than formal logic or special languages, and it can be integrated across disciplines. It focuses on everyday reasoning, within the domains that we are thinking in every day.

We have run conferences and workshops for 35 years, and during this time we have worked with more than 100,000 educators in designing instruction that places critical thinking at the core of teaching and learning. Many educators want to attend our annual July conference, the International Conference on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform in Berkeley, California, and our August conference, the International Fellows Academy on Critical Thinking, but cannot afford the transportation, cost of admission, and housing.

We seek scholarship funding to help them with travel and conference admission costs.

The Challenge


The Foundation for Critical Thinking was established in 1980 as the first center on critical thinking in the world. Our approach to teach critical thinking is used more widely than any other, because:

  • It is the most integrated. Through dozens of guides we show how to apply critical thinking to specific academic fields.
  • It is the most accessible. We explain critical thinking using everyday language rather than formal logic and jargon.
  • It is the most relevant. We show how to use critical thinking in everyday reasoning, with real human problems, not just in the abstract.
  • It is the most targeted. After 35 years of producing content, we now have every conceivable type of video and printed guide, from teaching kindergartners critical thinking to teaching how to read skeptically to teaching guides translated into 50 languages.
  • It is the most useful to teachers. Our support goes far beyond textbooks. We provide a community to help teachers use our materials, and additional resources such as student tests.
  • It is inexpensive. Unlike commercial publishers who sell expensive and heavy textbooks, we are a non-profit. Our miniature guides are easily purchased or downloaded electronically.

critical-thinking-academy02Each year we host the International Conference on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform in Berkeley, California. More than 400 educators attend to learn about critical thinking and how they can better foster it in their work with students. The conference is designed for educators at all levels, from kindergarten to high school, including home study, and from college to graduate school.

Many educators who could make a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of students can't afford the travel costs and conference admission. This is especially important with overseas teachers who could showcase critical thinking to their entire region back home. Getting funding from their institutions to attend is often not possible.

The Opportunity

We seek funding for a scholarship program to fund the transportation, conference admission, and housing for exceptional educators.

We will talent scout the most worthy educators, those who are willing to teach critical thinking explicitly, integrating it with their discipline and improving the lives of their students.

We will ensure that educators who receive scholarships have financial need, and encourage them to partially pay their own way, allowing us to reduce each scholarship's amount and thus to help more people.


critical-thinking-academy03We seek up to $50,000 to support educators to attend our two annual conferences. We would choose applicants who are in financial need and will make the highest impact with students in their classes, through:

  • Being passionate about teaching critical thinking explicitly
  • Integrating critical thinking with their discipline
  • Having a large and receptive class of students
  • Being well positioned to showcase critical thinking to their entire educational institution
  • Having a student age group and teaching discipline that makes a useful case study for the Foundation for Critical Thinking

On a case-by-case basis, we would extend:

  • $500 scholarships to cover registration at the 35th International Conference on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform in July 2015,
  • $3,000 scholarships to attend the Third International Fellows Academy on Critical Thinking, in August 2015, which includes room and board at the historic Marconi Conference Center in scenic Marin County,
  • Transportation scholarships of up to $1,000 domestically and $2,000 abroad,
  • And housing scholarships of up to $1,000.

In addition, we would facilitate matchmaking between local residents with a spare room and educators who need housing during the conference.

Project Plan

The Third International Fellows Academy on Critical Thinking is a 5-day intensive academy. Attendees:

  • Discuss essential ideas in critical thinking,
  • Learn close reading and substantive writing strategies for their own development and for use in instruction,
  • Reason through complexities in questions within their subject fields to help student learn to do the same,
  • Write papers and receive feedback on those papers using intellectual standards, to develop their understandings while engaging as “students” thinking through content, and
  • Learn from Fellows and Scholars who participate as both “master students” and “tutors,” sometimes thinking aloud with students while exploring ideas and sometimes giving clear direction on how to better discipline one’s reasoning.

The International Conference on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform is the world's longest-running annual conference on critical thinking. It is designed not only to train educators to teach critical thinking, but to inspire them to adopt a new mindset: critical thinking is arguably the most important skill that a human being can have, and it deserves an explicit place in every discipline, at every level of education.

The week begins with three preconference session options on the Saturday and Sunday before the conference formally starts. These are intended for those who want to more deeply internalize the foundations of critical thinking. Then Monday through Thursday, attendees have the choice of several sessions given by a dozen speakers.


Saturday and Sunday (July 25-26, 2015)

daniel-ellsburgAttendees choose from the following two-day sessions:

  • Dr. Linda Elder, Bringing Critical Thinking into the Heart of Teaching and Learning
  • Critical Writing: Teaching Students How to Write a Paper Using the Principles of Critical Thinking, Dr. Gerald Nosich
  • Dr. Paul Bankes and Dr. Brian Barnes, Living the Examined Life Through Daily Practice in Critical Thinking: 30 Weeks to Better Thinking and Better Living

DAY ONE: Monday, July 27

Attendees choose from the following all-day sessions:

  • Dr. Linda Elder, Incorporating Critical Thinking Assessment into the Fabric of Teaching and Learning Every Day
  • Dr. Gerald Nosich, Helping Students Come to Understand Content as a Mode of Thinking
  • Dr. Paul Bankes, To What Extent do the Common Core Standards Foster Critical Thinking, World Justice, and Freedom of Thought?
  • Transformative Thinkers throughout History Who Have Cultivated and Advanced the Concept of Freedom of Thought, Dr. Brian Barnes

DAY TWO: Tuesday, July 28


Bertrand Russell Scholars Program, a Lecture and Conversation with Russell Scholar Dr. Daniel Ellsberg


Attendees chose one of these roundtable discussions:

  • Dr. Gerald Nosich, Employing Socratic Questioning as a Means to Cultivating the Intellect and Freeing the Mind
  • Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and Dr. Linda Elder, The Inherent Fallibility of Human Memory and Some Core Implications for Teaching and Learning
  • Dr. Brian Barnes, Helping Students Deal with Bad Habits of Mind that Impede Their Learning and Their Development as Thinkers
  • Dr. Paul Bankes, For Administrators: Fostering a Substantive Conception of Critical Thinking Throughout Teaching and Learning

DAY THREE: Wednesday, July 29

Concurrent sessions TBA

DAY FOUR: Thursday, July 30

brian-barnesAttendees choose one of the following sessions for the morning:

  • Teaching Students to Pursue Transformative Concepts within Academic Discipline, Dr. Gerald Nosich
  • Dr. Paul Bankes and Dr. Brian Barnes, The Philosophy of Richard Paul and Some Core Implications for Teaching and Learning
  • Dr. Amanda Hiner, Creating Lifelong Critical Thinkers: Integrating the Paulian Critical Thinking Approach Into a General Education Program
  • Dr. Linda Elder, Understanding the Inherent Barriers to Freedom of Thought and the Emancipated Mind


We seek funding to provide scholarships to the educators in financial need who will make the highest impact if able to attend our conferences.

We seek locals in Berkeley, California willing to offer a guest room to conference attendees who cannot afford their own housing during the conferences.


Organization: Foundation for Critical Thinking
Contact Name: Linda Elder
Contact Email: elder@criticalthinking.org