Has the UK had enough of experts?

Date: 7th December, 2016
Start Time: 18:00 hrs
Venue: Lecture Theatre 2, Cambridge Judge Business School, Cambridge

Registration: The event is free, however a ticket is required. Please follow this link to register.

In most (Western) societies, expertise has become of the essence. It has permeated the realms of both private and public decision-making, and granted experts substantial power. Yet, in spite of – or perhaps due to – their prominent role, experts are often regarded with suspicion. While expertise is generally considered important for decision-making, the wider polity does not necessarily trust the experts to put their expertise to good use, i.e. to pursue the Greater Good.

This lack of trust undermines the relevance of expert knowledge and, in the more extreme cases, leads to its outright rejection. Hence the question: have people had enough of experts? We shall raise this question in the context of the U.K. The discussion will focus on role of experts in modern societies and ways to improve their perception by the general public.

The following speakers will present their perspectives:

– Max Goldman (Development and communications manager), Sense about Science:


Max joined Sense about Science in March 2013. He is responsible for project development and communications, working specifically on Ask for Evidence. Prior to working with Sense about Science, Max completed a Masters of Research degree at the London Consortium, a cross-disciplinary group of museums, galleries and academic institutions designed to bridge the gap between public and academic discussion.
– Melanie Smallman, UCL – Harvard Kennedy School of Government:

Melanie is Deputy Director of the Responsible Research and Innovation hub at UCL and a research and teaching associate in the department of Science and Technology Studies. Melanie’s research focuses on how the public form views around new and emerging science and technology, the impact of those views on public policy and how expert advice is conceived and used in policy making. In 1999, Melanie founded Think-Lab, the UK’s first science communication consultancy, and spent seven years as an adviser to Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser. Melanie has extensive experience of working with a range of policy makers and organisations, including the UK Government, the OECD and the European Commission.
– Roeland Beerten (Director of Policy and Public Affairs), Royal Statistical Society


Roeland directs the policy work and the external relations of the Royal Statistical Society. This includes oversight for the policy development and associated research across a range of topics including education, official statistics and data policy. He also oversees our public affairs portfolio, covering stakeholder relations, parliamentary affairs, press and media and external communications, including Significance Magazine. Before joining us he led on household survey and Census development at the Office for National Statistics. Roeland studied statistics and survey methodology in Belgium and started his career at the University of Leuven, where he conducted electoral and survey methodology research.

From 1 February Roeland will take up the post of Chief Statistician at the Flemish Statistics Authority in Brussels, Belgium.


A drink reception will follow the lecture.