Conference Theme


Conference Chair:
Sara S. Johnson, PhD

The Wisdom of Rethinking:
Promoting & Practicing Intellectual Humility to Advance Health & Well-Being

Amid the monumental challenges Americans face with racial justice, climate change, the economy, and the rise of autocratic regimes globally, the United States is experiencing extreme and increasing levels of political and ideological polarization.  At the same time, the health promotion field is confronted with persistent and unrelenting health disparities, unprecedented rates of mental health concerns, increases in the prevalence of preventable chronic diseases, and low rates of social and financial well-being –all of which underscore the need for bold and innovative solutions and approaches.

The burgeoning interest in intellectual humility – the willingness to acknowledge that even our most firmly held beliefs, convictions, opinions, and viewpoints are potentially fallible because they are based on faulty or insufficient information or because we lack the expertise to evaluate the evidence – may be the key to creating the curiosity we need to venture out of our echo chambers and to challenge our assumptions.

Intellectual humility is the subject of best-selling books (e.g., Think Again, which encourages us to be scientists that routinely reconsider our views and question everything), as well as major investments by foundations (e.g., John Templeton). And with good reason. Promoting intellectual humility may increase people's receptivity to interventions to improve well-being; enable them to more accurately evaluate the quality of available evidence; and make them more receptive to counterarguments. Intellectual humility is also associated with improved relationships, tolerance, and willingness to learn. Practicing intellectual humility could improve our programs and interventions.

The question, then, is how can we practice and promote intellectual humility? Where and how could rethinking create the breakthroughs that are so urgently needed to advance our field and address the most pressing challenges of our time (e.g., health equity, climate change)?

Conference sessions will explore:

•         Models and frameworks for creating, implementing, and sustaining initiatives driven by challenging old assumptions, reducing polarization, building new bridges, and reimagining a better future
•         Examples of interventions that cultivate intellectual humility skills to enhance individual, organizational and community health and well-being (e.g., vaccines, misinformation, the need to heal division and promote civil discourse)
•         Evaluation models or indices that aid in adequately capturing the impact of interventions to promote intellectual humility and curiosity