11 Feb 2020 10:30am - 5:00pm Cripps Court, Magdalene College, Magdalene Street, Cambridge CB3 0AG



Hannah Baker, Research Associate, CRASSH (University of Cambridge)

Robert Doubleday, Executive Director at the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP), (University of Cambridge)

Emily So, Reader in the Department of Architecture (University of Cambridge)



Disaster management is formed of several parts including preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. Critics argue that current disaster management practices are technocratic and call for a co-production of knowledge. This workshop, therefore, explores knowledge domains and flows of information in the context of disaster response. When responding to an earthquake, volcanic eruption, pandemic and other emergency situations, decisions need to be made at governmental level and on the ground. Information has to be collated, understood and disseminated to make decisions in these time-pressured environments subject to uncertainty. 

The workshop addresses a range of questions in the context of disaster response: 

  • What type of knowledge is and should be used? 
  • What constitutes an expert? 
  • How is and should uncertainty be factored into decisions and communicated? 
  • What happens to, and should happen to, knowledge after it is produced and the event has taken place?

Speakers from different disciplinary backgrounds represent both academia and policy, emphasising the need to think holistically about these problems. The workshop includes focus groups to allow for in-depth discussions about the questions posed and to facilitate collaboration between participants. 


Amy Donovan (University of Cambridge)

Robert Evans (Cardiff University)

Dorothea Hilhorst (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Mausmi Juthani  (Government Office of Science)

Benjamin Taylor (Evidence Aid)

Target audience

This is an interactive workshop, with the purpose of bringing together people from a range of disciplines and experiences. The target audience includes (but is not limited to) people working in/researching expertise, organisational theory, knowledge production and dissemination, and disaster management. 

All participants are expected to take part in the focus groups. Multiple perspectives and levels of experiences are encouraged and facilitators will be on hand to manage discussions. 


Further information

The workshop is followed by the Centre for Science and Policy’s (CSaP’s) annual lecture, which participants may also find of interest. This will be delivered by Professor Dame Sally Davies, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and former Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government. The lecture will take place in St John’s College at 17:30. Anyone interested in attending  should register with CSaP.


This workshop forms part of the Expertise Under Pressure (EUP) project, funded by the Humanities and Social Change International Foundation. The EUP project’s overarching goal is to establish a broad framework for understanding what makes expertise authoritative, when experts overreach and what realistic demands communities should place on experts.


Queries: Contact Una Yeung


10:30 – 11:00

Registration (refreshments available)

11:00 – 11:15

Hannah Baker and Emily So (University of Cambridge)


11:15 – 12:30

Amy Donovan (University of Cambridge)

‘Thinking Holistically about Risk and Uncertainty’

Mausmi Juthani  (Government Office of Science)

'Scientific Advice to Government in Emergencies' 

12:30 – 13:15


13:15 – 14:30

Robert Evans (Cardiff University)

'Nature and Use of Scientific Expertise'

Dorothea Hilhorst (Erasmas University Rotterdam) 

'Diversity of Bureaucrats, Technocrats and Local People'

14:30 – 14:45


14:45 – 15:10

Benjamin Taylor (Evidence Aid)

'The Evidence-Based Approach in Humanitarian Action'

15:15 – 16:00

Focus groups involving all participants

16:00 – 16:30

Emily So, Robert Doubleday, Hannah Baker (University of Cambridge)

'Focus group feedback and workshop summary'

16:30 – 17:00

Networking and refreshments



At 17:30 Professor Dame Sally Davies will be presenting the Centre for Science and Policy’s (CSaP’s) annual lecture at St  John’s College, which participants may find of interest (separate registration is required). A group will be leaving Cripps Court, Magdalene College at 17:00 (approx a 15-minute walk to St John’s College).

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Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk