Rima Wilkes Speaks at Big Thinking Lectures

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ Big Thinking lecture series enables leading researchers to offer fresh ideas to Canada’s parliamentarians – and the results are often as big as the thinking. Perhaps more than any other program or lecture series, this one demonstrates the critical link between publicly funded research and policy development.

November 2, 2017

Expertise in a post-truth era: How to be a trusted advisor in a low-trust world

Gabriel Miller, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Lisa Kimmel, President and CEO, Edelman Canada
Mark Kingwell, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Rima Wilkes, President, Canadian Sociological Association

The apparent rise in populist, anti-intellectual sentiment around the world presents serious risks to the research community, public-policy practitioners and, indeed, the functioning of a democratic society. Widespread popular rejection of evidence-backed messages in areas such as the environment, public health and national security is contributing to destructive policies and behaviours, including inaction on climate change, declining vaccination rates and hostility to immigration. Researchers, business leaders, public servants and other subject-matter experts now face difficult questions: To what extent have they lost public trust? Why do so many reject the findings of experts? What are the consequences of a political discourse that is dismissive of facts? And how can researchers, public servants and other experts build and maintain public trust in the years ahead? This panel will explore these questions by examining the nature of the “post-truth” phenomenon; the social forces that underlie it; and practical steps researchers and public-policy practitioners can take to grow public trust.

Canadian Sociological Association (CSA-SCS) President (2017-2018), Dr. Rima Wilkes was asked to participate on a Big Thinking panel at the Canadian Science Policy Conference 2017  by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Rima Wilkes is Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Her current work, “It’s a Question of Trust: Explaining Ethno-Racial Differences in Trust”, is funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.