Trusting science in an age of distrust

The trend against Experts and a public loss of trust in science have recently made headlines. For example, they translated as tweets questioning man-made climate change by the current US president. Or statements such as ‘I think that the people of this country have had enough of experts’ by British politician Michael Gove during the Brexit campaign. But is such a shift in public attitudes towards science actually taking place? And if so, who exactly has lost trust in whom? In this opinion piece, the results of three national surveys on public perception and trust in science from Germany, Sweden and Switzerland are outlined and give us some answers. It makes for some fascinating reading!

Claudius Gros: Increased Government’s reactivity can mitigate social instability

In this exclusive interview, EuroScientist Editor, Sabine Louët, speaks with German physicist Claudius Gros about the insights that complex systems bring into our society, which help in understanding their deficiencies in terms of how decisions are made. Gros’ analysis is based on the observation that citizens’ opinions—supported by mobile phones and internet technology—are now forming faster than ever before, relative to the time scale of policy decision making. This suggests the need to introduce necessary changes in the modes of governance, to enhance the reactivity of policy decisions, as means to keep our democratic societies steady. These findings have potential implications for an à la carte EU membership.

Second Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

The 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting will be organized at the Ateneu Barcelones on 16 May 2017. Its aim is to foster the creation of a large pan-European community of citizen-scientists supporting the new social contract between science and society. In the morning, representatives of grassroots associations and organisers of March-for-Science from across Europe will discuss national initiatives. They will lead to discussions about their convergence. The afternoon will focus on the concept of Science Open to Society and will feature scientists from Barcelona. The meeting, which will be streamed live on the internet to ensure a broad reach. It will conclude with a general debate on how to proceed for promoting an Open Science in an Open World.

March for Science: reaching out for bottom-up governance

We are living through very puzzling times. Times where the unexpected, the counter-intuitive and the irrational make headlines day after day. In this new world order, some remnants of old models of governance are re-emerging. These are entered on top-down governance, sometimes stretched to the point of generating strongly nationalist and authoritarian regimes. Yet, new governance models are needed. Scientists, with the March for Science due to take place on 22nd April 2017, give a strong signal, that bottom-up input into policy is needed. Unlike any time ever before, technology makes it easy for people in power to consult citizens on how their lives should be governed. Meanwhile, the input of the humanities and deeper philosophical questioning could help us inform future policy decisions. The trouble is that the mechanisms for such bottom-up governance have not yet been fully elucidated. To contribute to discussions on this issue, it is now time for EuroScientist and HSE community members to step in.

Policy making manifesto: squaring science with the human factor

EuroScientist publishes in exclusivity the Brussels Declaration on ethics & principles for science & society policy-making, launched on 17th February 2017 at the AAAS meeting. This document outlines a set of 20 principles related to the ethics and the mechanisms through which scientific evidence is taken into account as part of the policy making process for issues relevant to science and society. This declaration proposes a dramatic shift in the way scientific evidence informs policy. It suggests integrating the views of practitioners in relevant fields, thus instilling a bottom-up approach to the policy making process. This is in sharp contrast with the existing top down policy making principles. Find out more in this op-ed written exclusively for EuroScientist by some of the authors of the Brussels Declaration.

UK scientists’ loss of influence to be felt at home and across Europe

Brexit keeps resounding in the many aspects that its implications may have for European research. In this opinion piece, Thomas König, Austrian social scientist, who was previously scientific advisor to former ERC president Helga Nowotny, examines the consequences of the predicted fall of influence of British scientists on the future of European science. He believes the consequences of Brexit are likely to be felt, not only in UK science itself, but also at the level of pan-European research endeavours, such as ERC-backed activities. This shows that scientists are not sheltered from the vagaries of politics when policies emanating from the popular vote forces them to defend their interests.

Top Trumped: what does the US election mean for science and Europe?

Donald Trump’s imminent arrival at the White House has blown a cold wind through the scientific community. In this article, Arran Frood, investigates the likely impact the Trump presidency could have on research in Europe. He also explores how a likely change in science policy in the US may result in a shift of the centre of gravity of research, particularly in certain disciplines. Finally, there could be some consequences for the mobility and career of scientists themselves.

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RRI as a wake-up call

Until now, our diagnostics of the role of research and innovation in society has been too simplistic. In this opinion piece, Elisabeth Gulbrandsen, special adviser in the division for innovation of the Research Council of Norway, shares her view on how RRI can be embedded in the fabric of research programmes. She argues that RRI is a wake-up call pointing to the need to examine the nature of the research and innovation itself before we can implement a change in the culture of research, moving beyond our comfort zone.