Associate Professor Yarrow Axford Discusses What it Means to Trust in Science Today

By Matt Golosinski 

March 2, 2017

Science is a powerful force enmeshed in a web of social and political relationships. Yet, the public’s faith in this force has waned lately, especially with respect to studies of global warming or the safety of vaccines and GM foods. During a dynamic town hall discussion in Evanston on February 27, scholars from Northwestern and the University of Chicago explored some reasons for this shift and what it means to trust in science today.

Sponsored by the Science in Human Culture Program (SHC), the 90-minute forum featured an interdisciplinary panel: Yarrow Axford, earth and planetary science; Pablo Boczkowski, communication; and Aviva Rothman, history (University of Chicago). They examined the intersection of science, public trust, and governance through a historical lens to provide insight into how scholars, teachers, and citizens might respond to current threats against science. Frictions among research, media, and politics were on the minds of some three-dozen faculty, students, and staff members who participated in the event, organized and moderated by SHC Director Helen Tilley, history.

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