ALLEA Workshop “Trust in Science & Changing Landscapes of Communication” held in Amsterdam

Public-opinion and perceptions of science and expertise are heavily influenced by old and new forms of media communication. The ALLEA workshop “Trust in Science and Changing Landscapes of Communication” shed light on the ways in which public trust in scientific institutions, evidence and advice is being challenged by new social and technological transformations.

On 31 August 2018, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) hosted the ALLEA workshop “Trust in Science & Changing Landscapes of Communication.” Chaired by former KNAW President Prof. José van Dijck, the workshop sought to improve our collective understanding on how changing landscapes of communication – brought about by advances in information technology, the media, and a number of socio-technical and political-economic transformations – have altered the way in which scientists communicate empirical and theoretical findings, and the way the public perceives and engages with research and academia.

Overall, trust in science seems to remain relatively high, but might be undermined by an increasing loss of trust in, and trustworthiness of, traditional media, accompanied by a growing importance of social media platforms. The workshop also looked at some of the criticism that has been raised towards researchers and the scientific community’s alleged lack of willingness and/or competence to communicate the results to the public in a differentiated way, adjusting to and engaging with new online communication tools.

Renown scholars and researchers from the fields of Science and Communication, Media Studies, Philosophy, Psychology and Political Theory discussed various aspects from a wide range of perspectives. The discussions were divided into five sessions:

  •  Session I: Stephan Lewandowsky – Rejection of Scientific Findings – Worldview, Ideology, and the Norms of Science
  • Session II: Mike Schäfer – Trusting Science in a Changing Media Environment
  • Session III: Judith Simon – Trust and Knowledge in a Digital World
  • Session IV: Lisa Herzog: Trust in Science – What should Young Scientists do?
  • Session V: Erika Widegren: The Truth about the Truth – A Practitioner’s Perspective on Current Incentive Frameworks

This was the third workshop led by the ALLEA Working Group Truth, Trust and Expertise, which extensively discusses issues regarding trust in science and expertise through a series of events and publications. A discussion paper summarising the outcomes of this workshop and other discussions held within the Working Group will be published in the upcoming months. You may read our first discussion paper here.