Science Communication

Improving Trust in Science through Communication

What is trustworthy, and how does trust depend on communication?

14:00 – 15:30 UTC, 02 June 2021.

Registration for all public sessions here.

Many forms of scientific knowledge are crucial for political decision-making – famous example can be found with regard to Covid and climate change, but there are also numerous other cases, e.g. in local politics, in which citizens and politicians have to draw on scientific expertise. But can, and should, they trust such knowledge? Is all scientific knowledge trustworthy, and if so, to the same degree? How should scientists and scholars communicate in order to build trust among non-experts?

Most scholars on trust agree that it is more than a matter of reliability – it also has a moral dimension. What does talk about “trust in science” mean, then, for the responsibilities of scientists and scholars? More specifically, what if the political stakes are high, and facts and values are intertwined in complex ways? Should researchers insist on their authority, or should they listen to lay people? How can they distinguish between genuine interest on the part of the latter, and politically motivated attempts at denial or obfuscation?

In this panel, we will discuss these questions at the interface of science and public decision-making. We will present the GYA’s SCISCO project, which combines reflections on the role of science in society and trust in science with practical questions about science communication. Together with our invited speakers, we will discuss the implications for individual scientists, but also for the scientific community and its institutional arrangements.

This panel is being organized in collaboration with the GYA Trust in (Young) Scientists Working Group.


Marcia Barbosa, Professor of Physics at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Daniel Sarewitz, Professor of Science and Society and Co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University.

Stephan Lewandowsky, Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Bristol, UK


Lisa Herzog, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Center for Philosophy, Politics and Economics of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.