April 20, 2021

The End of Expertise?

The Calgary Institute for the Humanities 40th Annual Community Forum will explore the changing role and changing conceptions of expertise in our society. Our invited guest speakers, a sociologist, a philosopher, and a cognitive scientist, will provide the foundation for a community discussion about the questioning of traditional sources of authority we see in our society today.

In conjunction with issues such as climate change denial, vaccination hesitancy, and political populist movements, we see an increasing questioning of traditional models of authority, whether this authority is mainstream journalism, scientific consensus or academia. At the same time, we can chart a longer history of activist movements in the twentieth century that have challenged the perceived blind spots of traditional expertise and authority, whether this is feminist questioning of male bias in science, AIDS activists challenging medical orthodoxy for access to drug trials, or indigenous groups protesting against engineering mega-projects or paternalistic development schemes. Is the current perception of the ‘death of expertise’ overstated? Do our conceptions of expertise need to change? Are the current challenges to expertise part of a healthy public sphere, or the sign of a dangerous slide towards populism and demagoguery?

Our invited guest speakers:

Harry Collins, Distinguished Research Professor and Director of the Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise and Science (KES) at Cardiff University

Maya Goldenberg, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph

Steven Sloman, Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Science at Brown University.


Jim Brown, author, filmmaker and CBC radio host.

Since 1980, the Calgary Institute for the Humanities Annual Community Seminar has been a free and open public forum for discussion. All are welcome to attend. This year, the event will be hosted on Zoom on Friday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Find out more and register at events.ucalgary.ca/arts/calgary-institute-humanities/#!view/event/event_id/305400.