In October 2018, two research projects – Expertise Under Pressure and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology – joined the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge.
Q. Dr Brandmayr, which aspect of Expertise Under Pressure do you find most exciting?
I like the fact that the project is based on a broad conception of expertise. Scholars in STS, philosophy of science and cognate fields have been focusing mainly on natural and medical scientists when studying expertise. Extending our attention to social scientists and scholars in the humanities should bring a fresh look to the study of the role and authority of experts in contemporary societies. And such breadth is reflected in the diversity of the team members: philosophy, politics, sociology, history, architecture and engineering are all well represented in a small group of people.
Q. How does your own area of interest relate to the project’s primary research questions?
I’ve been working on expertise for several years during my doctorate, focusing on expert testimonies in court cases. One of the prominent cases I’ve analysed is the L’Aquila trial, in which scientists belonging to different disciplines were both in the dock as defendants and on the witness stand as experts. By and large, I have a longstanding interest in understanding how and why people are sceptical of different forms of expertise in contemporary societies and in analysing what kind of assumptions experts make when giving advice to decision makers.
Q. What are your hopes for the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change?
I hope it will bring together researchers from a wide range of different disciplines and create a forum where they can formulate concrete and realistic proposals to address social problems, set up collaborations with other key actors, intervene in the public sphere, and outline alternative visions of society. And I hope that it will start a conversation about the production, diffusion and application of scientific knowledge in our society.
From left to right: Robert Doubleday, Anna Alexandrova, Emily So, Michael Kenny
Meet the Expertise Under Pressure Team
• Dr Anna Alexandrova, Principal Investigator
• Professor Michael Kenny, Co-Investigator
• Dr Emily So, Co-Investigator
• Dr Robert Doubleday, Co-Investigator
• Dr Hannah Baker, Research Associate
• Dr Federico Brandmayr, Research Associate
• Dr Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche, Research Associate
• Katie Cohen, Research Assistant