Submit Event

Melbourne School of Government presents

A crisis of expertise? Legitimacy and the challenge of policymaking



15th February 2018
16th February 2018


Arts West, Forum Theatre, University of Melbourne


Professor Andy Stirling, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex

Professor Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School

Professor Robyn Eckersley, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne

Professor Lars Coenen, City of Melbourne Chair of Resilient Cities, University of Melbourne

Plus many more


$150 full price, $50 student concession

At a time when the economic, social and environmental governance challenges facing contemporary societies have grown in severity, scope and complexity, trust in experts and established institutions is in decline. In the process the role and legitimacy of expertise in policy-making has increasingly been called into question. It is timely to think anew, and self-critically, about our assumptions regarding experts and expertise. In this two-day conference our focus is on policy-making which is controversial, contested and complex, which is sociotechnical and not simply technical or purely scientific. In particular to explore three themes and how they manifest in practical policy-making.

Knowledge and Society: what constitutes scientific and social scientific expertise, how is it produced and reproduced, and what knowledge/s and technologies of expertise are deployed? When and why do experts get it wrong? When it comes to making policy, what assumptions and problem-framings are prevalent, which experts and what expertise is recruited, and how are knowledge gaps and ignorance handled.

Policy in Practice: what does the ‘crisis of expertise’ mean for thinking and re-thinking policy-making in practice? Is the ‘crisis of expertise’ a problem of democracy or does it go beyond this? What evidence counts, how is expert knowledge communicated, what is the role of science advisors, in-government experts, public and experiential expertise and public engagement in policy-making? When does policy-making ‘work’ and when does it ‘fail’, and why? And, given increasing specialisation, what is the role of inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches?

Innovation and Experimentation: What innovative approaches to policy-making and expertise hold the most promise? These might include the promise and perils of greater public participation and democratisation of policy-making, or the use of citizen science, citizen juries, aggregative expertise, crowd wisdom, practical knowledge, indigenous knowledge and so on. What might be learned from policy-making in the global ‘South’?

This conference aims to include leading thinkers and policy practitioners both locally and globally. It is designed to be relatively small in size to enable all attendees to participate actively. Visit the conference website for program details and accommodation options.

This conference is organised by the Melbourne School of Government (MSoG) at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Press Ctrl+C to copy