Meet the Team: Expertise Under Pressure

What is the role of experts in understanding social change?

Two new projects will be joining the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge in October 2018: Expertise Under Pressure and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies. Working in collaboration with leading thinkers, policymakers and practitioners across the globe, our teams will investigate the interface between technology and social change. Read about the Expertise Under Pressure research project and meet the team below. 

Expertise Under Pressure


What is the role of experts in understanding social change?

Expert judgment today is both intensely sought out, across private and public spheres, and also intensely criticised and derided with well-publicised failures to predict various high profile social and natural phenomena. Does the problem lie with the very idea that objective expertise about complex processes is attainable? Or does it stem from the way that expert judgment is developed and communicated? Or, perhaps it reflects the diminished standing of experts and expert knowledge in democratic and pluralistic societies?

To explore these questions, we propose three case studies in which expert judgment is both consequential and controversial. They are the UK Government’s emergency response, the use of agglomeration theory in city planning, and deep philosophical controversies about the possibility and objectivity of social science. These cases differ in scope and focus but they enable us to analyse four distinct features of legitimate expertise: sensitivity to temporal scale, translatability in space, ambivalence about precision, and moral responsibility.

The overarching goal of the project is to establish a broad framework for understanding what makes expertise authoritative, when experts overreach, and what realistic demands communities should place on experts. 

Click here to visit the project's web page.


Principal Investigator 
Dr Anna Alexandrova,
Department of History and
Philosophy of Science
Q&A: Meet the Researcher

Professor Michael Kenny,
Bennett Institute for Public Policy
Q&A: Meet the Researcher


Dr Emily So,
Department of Architecture
Q&A: Meet the Researcher


Dr Robert Doubleday,
Centre for Science and Policy


Postdoctoral Research Associate
Dr Federico Brandmayr
Q&A: Meet the Researcher


Meet the Team: Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology


Posted: Thursday 7 June 2018

Contributor: CRASSH News