About the Conference
The economic, social and environmental governance challenges facing contemporary societies are growing in severity, scope and complexity; yet trust in experts and established institutions is in decline. The role and legitimacy of expertise in policymaking is increasingly being called into question.
Recently, populist and anti-globalisation movements in a number of countries, and on both ‘right’ and ‘left’, have achieved electoral success, in part by playing on these doubts and by rejecting the claims of experts to specialised knowledge and authority. These sentiments are even evident among many mainstream politicians. ‘People in this country have had enough of experts’ was the view of leading UK politician Michael Gove in 2016. US President Donald Trump has called global warming ‘bullshit’ and a ‘Chinese hoax’. In Australia we have seen some parliamentarians assert that vaccination causes autism, or that climate change is a fabrication, despite strong evidence to the contrary. We have seen a special commissioner appointed to investigate ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ despite no expert believing such a syndrome exists.
It is time to think anew, and self-critically, about our assumptions regarding experts and expertise. In this two-day conference our focus is on policymaking which is controversial, contested and complex; which is sociotechnical and not simply technical or purely scientific. In particular, we will explore three themes and how they manifest in practical policymaking.
Knowledge and Society
What constitutes scientific and social scientific expertise? How is it produced and reproduced? And what knowledge/s and technologies of expertise are deployed? When and why do experts get it wrong?
When it comes to making policy, what assumptions and problem-framings are prevalent? Which experts and what expertise is recruited? And how are knowledge gaps and ignorance handled?
Policy in Practice
What does the ‘crisis of expertise’ mean for thinking and re-thinking policymaking in practice? Is the ‘crisis of expertise’ a problem of democracy or does it go beyond this? What evidence counts (e.g. what value does ‘big data’ provide)? How should we think about the ‘public’ of public policy?
How is expert knowledge communicated? What is the role of science advisors, in-government experts, public and experiential expertise and public engagement in policymaking? How does policymaking in Australia, both past and current practice, compare with other countries (especially in our region) in its culture, structure and style? When does policymaking ‘work’, when does it ‘fail’, and why? And, given increasing specialisation, what is the role of inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches, concepts which are widely embraced but have often struggled to be as productive as their promises?
Innovation and Experimentation
What innovative approaches to policymaking and expertise hold the most promise? These might include the promise and perils of greater public participation and democratisation of policymaking, or the use of citizen science, citizen juries, aggregative expertise, crowd wisdom, practical knowledge, indigenous knowledge, and so on. What might be learned from policy-making in the global ‘South’?
This conference aims to include leading thinkers and policy practitioners both locally and globally. It is designed to be relatively small in size to enable all attendees to participate actively in the sessions. A number of key participants have been specially invited.
This conference is organised by the Melbourne School of Government (MSoG) at The University of Melbourne, Australia.
Conference Organising Committee
- Professor Andrew Walter, Melbourne School of Government, The University of Melbourne
- Professor Jon Pierre, Melbourne School of Government, The University of Melbourne
- Professor Lars Coenen, City of Melbourne Chair of Resilient Cities, The University of Melbourne
- Professor Robyn Eckersley, School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne
- Dr Jeremy Baskin, Melbourne School of Government, The University of Melbourne
- Dr Daniel McCarthy, School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne
- Dr Avery Poole, Melbourne School of Government, The University of Melbourne
Please contact the Conference Coordinator directly for queries about any and all aspects of the conference.
Registration opens: 21 July 2017
Paper and poster submission opens: 21 July 2017
Paper submission: NOW CLOSED
Poster submission closes: NOW CLOSED
Registration closes: 10 February 2018
Final Program: 1 February 2018
Conference Dates: 15 and 16 February 2018
The 2018 Melbourne School of Government Conference was held from 9.30am, Thursday 15 February to 3.30pm, Friday 16 February 2018.
A detailed program overview is provided below.
Please note: This is the FINAL program for the conference.
All speakers abstracts are available below
DAY 1 - Thursday 15 February
- 9.30am - 10.00am
- 10.00am - 10.15am
Opening and Acknowledgement of Country
- 10.15am - 11.30am
Keynote: Professor Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School)
- 11.30am - 11.45am
- 11.45am - 1.00pm
Session 1: Knowledge and Society
Scientising politics, politicising science, co-producing order?
- 1.00pm - 1.45pm
- 1.45pm - 3.00pm
Session 2: Knowledge and Society
- Public institutions and social imaginaries in knowledge production
- Politics and discourses of expertise
- Ways of seeing: legitimacy, authority and the creation of expertise
- 3.00pm - 3.30pm
- 3.30pm - 4.45pm
Session 3: Policy in practice
What knowledge counts?
Session 4: Policy in Practice
- Experts, evidence and hierarchies of expertise
- Publics and participation
- Climate's science, politics and policy
Reception and dinner
Main Dining Room, University House
Professors Walk, University of Melbourne
DAY 2 - Friday 16 February
- 9.30am - 10.45am
Keynote: Professor Andy Stirling
(Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex)
- 10.45am - 11.00am
- 11.00am - 12.15pm
Session 5: Innovation and Experimentation
New approaches, new paradigms?
- 12.15pm - 1.15pm
Session 6: Innovation and Experimentation
- Deliberation, democracy and experimentation
- Locating and negotiating the distribution of expertise
- Policy co-design across boundaries of experience and expertise
Professor Andy Stirling
Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex
Andy Stirling is Professor of Science and Technology Policy in the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. A Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Science, he is (among many research projects) Co-Director of the STEPS Centre and Director of a University Enterprise on Multicriteria Mapping.
Professor Stirling is an interdisciplinary researcher, policy advisor and teacher on issues concerning democracy and sustainability in science, technology and innovation. With an educational background in astronomy, a Masters in Archaeology and Social Anthropology and a Doctorate in Technology Policy, his research focuses on the ‘directions of progress’. This involves variously studying , knowledge and power, uncertainty, precaution and participation, ‘opening up’ social appraisal and diversity and transformation. He has contributed to 8 books/monographs, 3 edited books, 56 academic book chapters, and 53 refereed articles.
Professor Sheila Jasanoff
Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School
Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Previously, she was founding chair of Cornell University’s Department of Science and Technology Studies. At Harvard, she founded and directs the Program on Science, Technology and Society. Jasanoff’s research centers on the interactions of law, science, and politics in democratic societies. She has written more than 120 articles and book chapters and authored or edited more than 15 books, including The Fifth Branch, Science at the Bar, and Designs on Nature. An edited volume, Dreamscapes of Modernity, was published in 2015. Her newest book, The Ethics of Invention, appeared in 2016.
Jasanoff has held numerous distinguished professorships in the US, Europe, Australia, and Japan. She was a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and Karl W. Deutsch Guest Professor at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. Her awards include a Guggenheim fellowship, the Austrian Government’s Ehrenkreuz, the George Sarton Chair of the University of Ghent, the Bernal award of the Society for Social Studies of Science, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Twente. She is a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds an AB in Mathematics from Harvard College, a PhD in Linguistics from Harvard University, and a JD from Harvard Law School.
Professor Robyn Eckersley
School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne
Robyn Eckersley is a Professor of Political Science in the School of Social and Political Sciences, Faculty of Arts at The University of Melbourne and a member of the Executive Committee of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute. She was educated at the University of Western Australia, Cambridge University (UK) and the University of Tasmania, and taught political science at Monash University from 1992-2001. She has published widely in the fields of environmental politics, political theory and international relations, with a special focus on the ethics and governance of climate change. Her book The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (2004) won the Melbourne Woodward Medal in 2005 for the best research in Humanities and Social Sciences and was runner up in the International Studies Association’s Sprout Award for 2005 for the best book on Environmental Studies. She has been a Visiting Professor at the Centre for International Studies, London School of Economics, at the Research Center for Global Welfare, The Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Chiba University in Japan, a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, and the Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo. She was elected as Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 2007.
Professor Lars Coenen
City of Melbourne Chair of Resilient Cities, The University of Melbourne
Professor Lars Coenen is an economic geographer and scholar in innovation studies. He joined the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at The University of Melbourne in January 2017 as the inaugural ‘City of Melbourne Chair of Resilient Cities’, an initiative between the City of Melbourne and The University of Melbourne aimed at improving the city’s resilience to sustainability challenges. Prior to this, he was full professor at CIRCLE, the Centre for Innovation, Research, and Competence in the Learning Economy at Lund Universitiy, one of the world-leading interdisciplinary research centres in innovation studies. Here he was heading a research group dealing with innovation and sustainability transitions. Professor Coenen is well-known internationally for his work on regional and urban innovation and, more recently, his pioneering research on the geography of environmental innovation and sustainability transitions. He is author of more than 30 scientific papers published in leading international journals such as Research Policy, Environment and Planning A and Economic Geography.
Other confirmed speakers
- Professor Helen Sullivan, Crawford School, Australian National University
- Professor Colin Wight, University of Sydney
- Richard Denniss, Australia Institute
- Gordon De Brouwer (former public servant)
- Professor Brian Head, University of Queensland
- Professor Matthew Kearnes, University of New South Wales
- Professor Kathryn Davidson, The University of Melbourne
- Professor Kerry Arabena, The University of Melbourne
- Professor Joan Leach, Australian National University
Registration for this conference has now closed.
Please send any enquiries to email@example.com
- $150 full price
- $50 student concession
Registration fee includes refreshments, lunches and a conference dinner on the evening of 15 February (GST incl).
Please note: Only members of the Organising Committee and invited speakers are eligible to attend the conference free of charge as a part of their role in the Conference Contribution Committee. All other registrants should select either the full price or student concession fee as applicable.
Please contact us directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 3 9035 4836 if you have any queries.
Cancellation and Substitution Policy
All cancellation requests must be made in writing to the Conference Coordinator at the Melbourne School of Government. Cancellations received on or prior to Friday 2 February 2018 will receive a full refund.
Cancellations received from Saturday 3 February 2018 will incur a $50 administration fee.
Delegates who find themselves unable to attend the conference after submitting a registration form are most welcome to nominate a substitute. Your registration may be transferred to another name at no cost prior to 4.00pm, Tuesday 12 February 2018. Substitutions after this date or on the days of the conference will not be allowed except at the discretion of the Conference Coordinator.
Acknowledgement of Registration
Your registration and payment will be acknowledged via email with confirmation of your requirements according to your registration form. Your letter of acknowledgment will include any further advice necessary prior to your arrival at the conference and this website will be updated regularly in the lead up to the conference.
Further information may be sent out by email prior to the conference, especially if there have been major changes to the program or venue. At the conference you will receive the final program and a list of delegates.
Every effort will be made to ensure that people with special requirements are catered for. Should you require any specific assistance, catering or arrangements to be made on your behalf, please include a notation on your registration form under the section "Special Requirements".
Photography and Filming
Please note that the University may record aspects of the conference, using audio recording, photography and film.
Conference Catering and Dietary Requirements
Morning tea, afternoon tea and lunch will be served each day of the conference with vegetarian options included. Lunch will be catered and will provide attendees with the opportunity to network and build relationships.
We are happy to provide special catering. Catering will be provided for you in a specially marked section if you have indicated special dietary requirements other than vegetarian on your registration form. Please make yourself known to either catering or conference staff.
The Conference Dinner will be held at a venue TO BE CONFIRMED and is included in the registration.
The dinner will include a two-course meal, drinks and speaker.
Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements for the dinner.
Registration for the conference will take place on Thursday 15 February from 9.30am to 9.55am. Coffee and tea will be available.
Delegates will be issued with name tags upon registration. Name tags must be clearly visible at all times during the conference. If you misplace your name tag, please advise the conference staff who will provide you with another. Please be aware that if you are not wearing a name tag, you may be denied entry to conference sessions.
The information collected in the registration form or on the online registration is being collected by the Melbourne School of Government. You can contact us on +61 3 9035 4444 or email@example.com
The information collected is for your registration for this event.
On registering for this conference, relevant details will be incorporated into a delegate list for the benefit of all delegates (name, job title, organisation and email).
The information on the registration form is being collected by The University of Melbourne in order to register you for the event/program listed above, and to contact you regarding this event. If you wish to contact us regarding the collection and usage of this information, you can reach us using the contact information listed on the main event/program page.
The University of Melbourne may also use this information to contact you regarding similar events in future, or for relevant solicitation purposes. The information will be used by authorised staff for the purpose for which it was collected, and will be protected against unauthorised access and use. Your information will not be disclosed to any third parties, with the exception of the delegates list.
The invitation for submission of abstracts on topics pertinent to the conference themes is now closed.
The conference themes examine the apparent rise of scepticism towards experts and expertise and its impact on policymaking in Australia and beyond. We are keen to explore how publics are thought about by policymakers and how expertise is engaged with in a diverse range of challenging policy areas including health, environment, social policy, emerging technologies and so on. We will engage with insights and research emerging from and across a variety of disciplines. We will promote engagement between scholars and practitioners trained in both the social sciences and the physical sciences.
Abstracts and/or poster proposals should relate to one or more of the conference themes, namely:
- Expertise, knowledge and society
- Expertise and policymaking in practice
- Innovation and experimentation related to re-thinking expertise and policymaking
Call for Papers
In addition to specially-invited contributions, the organising committee made an open call for papers. We invited the submission of abstracts on topics pertinent to the conference themes and particularly welcomed the submission of explicitly interdisciplinary work.
We note that the call for papers is now closed.
- Paper abstract submission deadline: NOW CLOSED
- Conference organisers’ response to proposal: 20 November 2017
- Poster proposal deadline: 15 January 2018
- Author paper acceptance: 27 November 2017
- Author registration for conference: 15 December 2017
- Conference Dates: 15-16 February 2018
Note to Authors
All costs of attending the conference, including the registration fee, must be met by presenters. A commitment by accepted presenters to attend the conference must be received in the form of payment and registration before 15 December 2017. A fee waiver by a presenter may be applied for.
The preparation and supply of any handouts or other materials used in any presentation will be the responsibility of the presenter(s).
The conference language will be English.
Forum Theatre, Level 1, Arts West
The University of Melbourne, Parkville campus
The University has negotiated discounted rates with a number of accommodation providers within walking distance of the conference. Please click links in the table below for more information on each provider. Some providers require that you email to receive the negotiated discount (links provided). Please inform your desired hotel that you will take part in the Melbourne School of Government Conference on Expertise at the University of Melbourne.
Please note that these prices may change and are determined by the provider.
Accommodation Single room rate
Wi-Fi Walking distance
Arrow on Swanston
(direct booking link)
From $97 Included with direct
19 mins Ibis Melbourne Swanston St
(search for this hotel name)
From $125 Free for Accor le Club members
16 mins Ibis Melbourne Hotel and Apartments
(search for this hotel name)
From $140 Free for Accor le Club members
16 mins Lygon Lodge
(Email hotel for discount rate)
Please check availability first
From $150 Included 17 mins Best Western Plus Travel Inn Hotel
(Email hotel for discount rate)
Please check availability first
From $155 Included 17 mins Quest on Finlay
(Email hotel for discount rate)
Please check availability first
From $175 Included 19 mins Rydges on Swanston
(direct booking link)
Included 13 mins
There are many public transport options for access to The University of Melbourne campus. Details can be found in the How to travel to The University of Melbourne Parkville campus (150kb pdf).
Ticketed parking is available at three locations within the Parkville campus, details can be found on the About us Parking web page. A number of other public car parks are also available within walking distance from the Parkville campus.