9 October 2019

Lecture in DC on Astronomy, Society & the Environment

Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan leveraged their positions as prominent scientists to speak up on looming social and political issues such as the nuclear arms race, global warming, and the importance of education. Humanity is once again facing great challenges on a planetary scale, including global climate and ecosystem disruption and persistent social inequality. Astronomers, as explorers of the origins of the universe and of life, can contribute a unique and valuable perspective to develop and implement solutions and policies.

Lucianne Walkowicz & David Grinspoon

As part of the inaugural NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP) Symposium, which convenes in Washington, DC, 21-24 October and at which some 55 early career astronomers will present their research, we are organising a special plenary session entitled "Engaging the Cosmic Perspective to Address Environmental and Social Issues." Our two speakers, Lucianne Walkowicz (Adler Planetarium) and David Grinspoon (Planetary Science Institute), will talk about work they did during their time as Blumberg Chairs of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress. This will be the first NHFP Symposium since the Hubble, Sagan, and Einstein Fellowships were merged into a common program, and it is also the first time we will have this kind of outward-focused session, so it should be pretty exciting!

AAS members are invited to join the NHFP Fellows and others at the Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol (550 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20024) on Wednesday afternoon, 23 October, from 1:45 pm to 3:15 pm Eastern time.


  • Raphaëlle Haywood (Opening Remarks, 10 min)
  • Lucianne Walkowicz: What Do Our Narratives on Space Exploration Tell Us About Our History and Present on Earth? (25 min +5 min Q&A)
  • David Grinspoon: How Do Recent Exoplanet Discoveries Shape Our Understanding of the Role of Life and Intelligence on Earth and Beyond? (25 min +5 min Q&A)
  • Panel Discussion with Both Speakers (20 min)

AAS members may bring one friend or family member with them; everyone attending will be asked to sign in with their name and affiliation. You may attend other symposium sessions (some of which will be held at NASA Headquarters) too, if you wish. The full agenda, abstracts, and other information will soon be posted on the NHFP Symposium webpage.

In any case, please RSVP by email to the NASA Hubble Fellowship Program to let us know who's coming and whether you plan to attend only the special plenary lecture or also some of the other symposium sessions.

Questions? Email the NHFP and/or the undersigned.

Raphaëlle D. Haywood, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian