The issue of trust in scientific knowledge, including the role of experts, is publicly debated around the world. Some see worrying signs of falling trust in science in crucial societal areas. The causes of this development are complex. But in an age of “hyperspecialization” (Millgram 2015), trust in scientific knowledge is essential: people simply cannot have expertise in all the areas that are relevant to their lives.
It seems that one of the core issues of the problem is that the general public often knows very little about why it should trust scientists, and how much work and care go into establishing scientific claims.
This GYA working group, which started as an Incubator in January 2018, starts from the belief that by better explaining how science actually works, and by showing some of the faces behind the anonymous façade of “science”, trust can be regained.
For GYA members and alumni only: connect to the group, collaborate and discuss with other members on the GYA-internal Agora platform here.
Members of this working group have long argued for the need to reflect on the role of science in society and to contribute to building justified trust in science. But many young scientists have no access to training in science ethics or science communication. This is where the group’s “Science ∞ Society: Video tutorials on science ethics and science communication” project comes in. The Science ∞ Society project aims to create a learning platform with video tutorials – also to be made available as audio podcasts – that are meant to fill these gaps. They aim at helping (young) scientists think about the societal and ethical dimensions of being a scientist, providing them with conceptual tools to think through these questions, and empowering them to apply these to their own situation.
The project is carried out in collaboration with the German National Institute for Science Communication (NaWik), with funding from the Volkswagen Stiftung, and is running for the period 2020-2022. A first series of videos was launched in June 2021, and a concerted social media campaign by all project partners to spread the project’s outcomes to various stakeholders started in March 2022.
In 2022/23, the group will continue to promote the SCISO Project and its outcomes, e.g. through interactive webinars based on the SCISO videos, or at partner organisations’ events (e.g. New Einstein Forum, TWAS, UN General Assembly Science Summit).
They are also planning to organise a workshop on science communication at the 2023 GYA Annual General Meeting, and to collaborate with the GYA Science Advice group where relevant.
As part of a project on “Trust on Climate and Environmental Science”, group members conducted a systematic literature review and ran an online survey; the dissemination of any findings will happen in 2023.