Symposium – Serendipity For Cognitive Science

Update: You can now read the abstracts for accepted papers and the conference schedule here.
Update: You can now watch the videos of all talks from the Symposium on YouTube here.

September 7 – 10, 2020

Symposium Overview

Serendipity is a phenomenon occurring at the intersection of both skill and luck in which knowledge is produced unexpectedly while in the pursuit of an unrelated finding (Copeland, 2019). Factors of uncertainty, emergence, iteration, expectations, perception and action all play a role in serendipity, as they do in the study of cognition. In addition, Louis Pasteur famously claimed that “chance favours the prepared mind,” (McDonald, 2004, p. 77). As such, the study of serendipity goes hand-in-hand with cognitive science. This is evermore true at a time when both fields are moving away from a purely mentalistic frame of reference and embracing the importance of feedback loops with the environment and the role of material engagement and interactivity.

We would like to therefore center this online symposium around the topic of what serendipity research has to contribute to the understanding of cognition, and similarly what the cognitive sciences can elucidate in our understanding of serendipity, welcoming both theoretical and empirical approaches to these two questions. It will take place during the mornings of September 7-10, 2020. We hope this symposium will provide an engaging platform in which to learn and discuss ideas and, hopefully, to foster serendipitous discoveries.


You can read the abstracts for accepted papers and the conference schedule here.

You can watch the talks on our YouTube channel here.

Instructions for Attending

The entire symposium will be held online through live video conferencing. We encourage all participants to use a webcam and microphone to develop a sense of online community and presence. Sessions will be delivered online via Zoom, which is free for users. We suggest downloading, installing, and performing the initial configuration prior to joining the symposium.

Registration for attendance closed on September 4th, 2020

Featured Image: ‘Cognition’ by Paul Papadimitriou. Find it on Flickr