Can the experts please stand up?

On the 12th July at 9 AM we’re bringing the topic of expertise, DIY science and knowledge exchange under the spotlight at the UK’s Science in Public conference in Sheffield.

On the 3rd day of the conference, the DITOs team from Tekiu and UCL will be holding a session on how DIY practices are impacting on our collective understanding of expertise and whether new models of knowledge sharing and exchange are needed in light of these changing circumstance. We’re bringing together 5 speakers who approach the subject from different perspectives so expect a lively debate, after they each lay down the bait with their opening provocation statement.


Pieter van van Boheemen, a prominent member of the European DIY bio community will give us insight into this movement and their relation to authority and expertise. Is DIY bio driven by social egalitarian values and striving towards the common good or is its political role more subtle? Hilary Sutcliffe of Society Inside will help us how empathy is important in knowledge sharing, informed by her experience of bringing together academics and the public to discuss the ethics of emerging technologies. When it comes to decision making in the realm of ethics of new scientific frontiers, are values just as important as expertise? Stephan van Duin, a former biologist working in science communication through the Online Scientists platform has emphasised the importance of skilled facilitation of bidirectional communication between scientists and the public in building trust and making decisions. But are we getting carried away? Are the DIY scientists, civic activists and makers equally qualified to provide evidence to craft the decisions that shape our societies? Harry Collins will remind us that the term “lay expertise” is an oxymoron, building on his provocative recent book “Are we all experts now”? If one of the virtues of science is its aspiration to discover truths about the world then we need to be careful about what qualifies as knowledge that is worth considering. This is especially true in the cases of health and environmental sustainability. Johan Schutten from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency will give his take on the question and discuss the role that citizens can play in helping environmental agencies to have real world effects through its One Planet Prosperity programme.


But what’s a panel discussion without an audience? If you’re planning to attend the conference, come join us in person or tweet us your thoughts/questions to us beforehand so we can bring them into the room on the day!