The Nobel Conference is the first ongoing academic conference in the United States to have the official authorization of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. It is held annually at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota and links a general audience with the world's foremost scholars and researchers in conversations centered on contemporary issues related to the natural and social sciences.
Gustavus Adolphus College was founded by Swedish immigrants in 1862 and throughout its history, it has continued to honor its Swedish heritage. As the College prepared to build a new science hall in the early 1960s, College officials asked the Nobel Foundation for permission to name the building the Alfred Nobel Hall of Science as a memorial to the great Swedish inventor and philanthropist. Permission was granted, and the facility's dedication ceremony in 1963 included 26 Nobel laureates and officials from the Nobel Foundation.
Following the 1963 Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm, College representatives met with Nobel Foundation officials, asking them to endorse an annual science conference at the College and to allow use of the Nobel name to establish credibility and high standards. At the urging of several prominent Nobel laureates, the foundation granted the request and the first conference was held at the College in January 1965.
For four and a half decades, world-class research scientists and scholars have come together to discuss leading topics in science with audiences of thousands. The goal of the conference is to bring cutting-edge science issues to the attention of an audience of students and interested adults, and to engage the panelists and the audience in a discussion of the moral and societal impact of these issues. Another major goal of the conference is to attract world class speakers. Beginning with the help of an advisory committee composed of Nobel laureates such as Glenn Seaborg, Philip Showalter Hench, and Sir John Eccles, the conferences have been consistently successful in attracting the world's foremost authorities as speakers. Fifty-nine Nobel laureates have served as speakers, five of whom were awarded the prize after speaking at the conferences.
The conference has a focus on scientific topics such as "Medicine: Prescription for Tomorrow" (2006), "The Legacy of Einstein" (2005), "The Science of Aging" (2004), "The Nature of Nurture" (2002), "Virus: The Human Connection" (1998), and "The New Shape of Matter: Materials Challenge Science" (1995). The conference is open to the public and geared toward lay persons.
The 2014 Nobel conference was titled "Where Does Science Go from Here?" and took place October 7-8, 2014.
- Steven Chu, 1997 Nobel, Physics
- Sir Harry Kroto, 1996 Nobel, Chemistry
- Sean B. Carroll, Ph.D.
- Svante Pääbo, Ph.D.
- Harry B. Gray, Ph.D.
- Steven Weinberg, 1979 Nobel, Physics
- Antonio Damasio, Ph.D
- Patricia Smith Churchland, Ph.D
- 2013 - The Universe at its Limits
- 2012 - Our Global Ocean
- 2011 - The Brain and Being Human
- 2010 - Making Food Good
- 2009 - H2O Uncertain Resource
- 2008 - Who Were the First Humans?
- 2007 - Heating Up: The Energy Debate
- 2006 - Medicine: Prescription for Tomorrow
- 2005 - The Legacy of Einstein
- 2004 - The Science of Aging
- 2003 - The Story of Life
- 2002 - The Nature of Nurture
- 2001 - What is still to be discovered?
- 2000 - Globalization 2000: Economic Prospects and Challenges
- 1999 - Genetics in the New Millennium
- 1998 - Virus: The Human Connection
- 1997 - Unveiling the Solar System: 30 Years of Exploration
- 1996 - Apes at the End of an Age: Primate Language and Behavior in the '90s
- 1995 - The New Shape of Matter: Materials Challenge Science
- 1994 - Unlocking the Brain: Progress in Neuroscience
- 1993 - Nature Out of Balance: The New Ecology
- 1992 - Immunity: The Battle Within
- 1991 - The Evolving Cosmos
- 1990 - Chaos: The New Science
- 1989 - The End of Science?
- 1988 - The Restless Earth
- 1987 - Evolution of Sex
- 1986 - The Legacy of Keynes
- 1985 - The Impact of Science on Society
- 1984 - How We Know: The Inner Frontiers of Cognitive Science
- 1983 - Manipulating Life
- 1982 - Darwin's Legacy
- 1981 - The Place of Mind in Nature
- 1980 - The Aesthetic Dimension of Science
- 1979 - The Future of the Market Economy
- 1978 - Global Resources: Perspectives and Alternatives
- 1977 - The Nature of Life
- 1976 - The Nature of the hysical Universe
- 1975 - The Future of Science
- 1974 - The Quest for Peace
- 1973 - The Destiny of Women
- 1972 - The End of Life
- 1971 - Shaping the Future
- 1970 - Creativity
- 1969 - Communication
- 1968 - The Uniqueness of Man
- 1967 - The Human Mind
- 1966 - The Control of the Environment
- 1965 - Genetics and the Future of Man