In October 2018, two new research projects – Expertise Under Pressure and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies – will inaugurate the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge. We are delighted to welcome Dr Emily So, Co-Investigator of Expertise Under Pressure, to the Centre and asked about her hopes for the project.
Dr So is a Senior Lecturer in Architectural Engineering at Cambridge University and a chartered civil engineer. She is Director of the Cambridge University Centre for Risk in the Built Environment (CURBE). Read her biography here.
Q. Dr So, which aspect of Expertise Under Pressure do you find most exciting?
I am looking forward to working with my co-investigators. Even in the short time we have been meeting to form the proposal, we have learnt a great deal from one another sharing experiences, networks and research approaches. The Centre encourages cross pollination, co-learning and co-producing and through the project’s Experts Bite sessions and project workshops at CRASSH, we will be actively engaging with external and internal experts to explore the place of experts and their judgements in public policy and society.
Q. How does your own area of interest relate to the project’s primary research questions?
As a member of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, the case study I will lead and the primary research questions associated with it, are personal. How much weight does and should my judgements carry in decisions made rapidly after an emergency when the situation on the ground is still unfolding? What if I am wrong? How would things differ if we have more time? At the core of this project is an evaluation of the credibility and accountability of experts. I believe in order for experts to be trusted either as primary sources or used to help bound uncertainties of information, there has to be a more transparent process. I intend through this project to explore the practice in place in this country and internationally to deal with emergencies, and to reflect and improve on these protocols through case studies in social sciences and public policies.
Q. What are your hopes for the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change?
I hope the Centre will bring about genuine and unorthodox engagements between academics and practitioners to recognise and promote the role of humanities in social change. We live in an ever-changing and challenging world, and as academics and teachers of future generations, we should encourage unusual alliances and forward thinkers, using our history to shape us but not define boundaries. In particular, I would like to explore the use of design and media in the communication of scientific, political and social knowledge.