Donostia talks

Talking the talk & walking the walk…

Science, Democracy, and Trust in Experts

First edition: Donostia-San Sebastian, June 7-8, 2024
Conveners:   Ekai Txapartegi & Antonio Casado (UPV/EHU)
Organizing Committee: Eñaut Goñi, Laida Arbizu, Unai Bayon (UPV/EHU)
Languages:  English with simultaneous translation from Basque or Spanish

Aim: This workshop will bring together scholars, policymakers and practitioners for a two-day meeting to discuss the theory and practice of expert advice in democratic societies. We will focus on various questions regarding public trust in experts. How should we understand the relation between trust, mistrust, and distrust in democratic politics? What makes experts and citizens trustworthy? Why do so many people today distrust expert advice on particular issues? What lessons can we learn from the use of expert advice during the COVID-19 pandemic? How can we use those lessons to prepare for other crises, such as those related to the climate emergency? The plan is to have an edition of this workshop with different participants at the end of every academic year.

Structure: 1) Case studies and empirical research on trust in experts; 2) Theories of democracy and expertise; 3) Future prospects for improving the role of experts in politics. The emphasis will be on linking theory and experience to practical proposals for expert advice in complex democratic societies. In order to have a free and safe space for discussion, attendance to the event will be by invitation only and the “Chatham House Rule” will be followed, so that participants are allowed to speak as individuals, and to express views that may not be those of their organizations.

Method: Invited speakers, when possible, will submit an abstract of their paper so that it can be circulated a few weeks in advance. All participants will then receive an online questionnaire (see below); a summary of their anonymous answers will be shared during the workshop. Enough time will be devoted to feedback, so that all participants might make, one by one, a round of brief questions, comments, proposals or reactions to each contributed talk.

Friday, June 7 (morning)

Case studies and empirical research: COVID-19

9:00-9:15      Anonymous participant (UPV/EHU): Welcome

9:15-9:25      Introduction to the workshop

9:25-9:45      Anonymous participant (ISCIII): TBA

9:45-11:10    Feedback round

11:10-11:40 Coffee-break

11:40-12:00 Anonymous participant (Eusko Jaurlaritza – Participation conditioned to the political context in June): TBA

12:00-13:30 Feedback

14:00-16:00 Lunch

Friday, June 7 (afternoon)

Politics and expertise

16:00-16:15 Framing

16:15-16:30 Anonymous participant (Deliberativa): Results of the questionnaire

16:30-16:50 Anonymous participant (Deusto University): TBA

16:50-17:45 Feedback round

20:00-21:00 Cocktail

Saturday, June 8 (morning)

9:15-9:30      Anonymous participant (DIPC): Welcome

9:30-9:45      Synthesis so far

Theories of democracy and expertise

9:45-10:30    Anonymous participant (CSU Sacramento): Science in Democracy

10:30-11:30 Feedback round

11:30-12:00 Coffee-break

Future prospects: global environmental threats

12:00-12:45 Anonymous participants (BC3): Roundtable

12:45-14:15 Feedback round & plans for next workshop (one every academic year)

14:30-16:00 Lunch

Invited organizations
  • (Mondragon University)
  • (Deliberativa)
  • (UPV/EHU, Philosophy)
  • (Eusko Jaurlaritza)
  • (Agirre Lehendakaria Center)
  • (UPV/EHU, Economics)
  • (UPV/EHU, Psychology and Methodology)
  • (Euskampus)
  • (Deusto University)
  • (Scientific Culture Chair, UPNA)
  • (Scientific Culture Chair, UPV/EHU, Jakiunde)
  • (UPV/EHU, Sociology) 
  • (Arantzazulab)
  • (DIPC)
  • (Ikerbasque)
  • (Telesforo Monzon eLab)
Questionnaire
  1. Please briefly describe your preferred example, experience or actual system concerning the integration of expertise in policy making.
  2. Which are its comparative advantages, with respect to other actual systems or experiences? Are there any challenges or disadvantages?
  3. Short-term, which is the most impactful factor or leverage point to increase citizens’ trust in experts? And long-term?
  4. What is your working (practical, experiential) definition of “expert”?
  5. What is your working definition of “democracy”?
A workshop under the Chatham House Rule

This workshop is held under the Chatham House Rule. Participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. The list of participants should not be circulated beyond those participating in the meeting.