What is the relation of science to society?
Why should the general public trust science?

We invite doctoral candidates from all doctoral schools at the University of Vienna to join us for an interdisciplinary discussion on the role of science in society, followed by an informal meet-up with the speakers and the other students on gather.town.


Tuesday, 15 June 2021, 3.00PM | Online event (Zoom/gather.town)

Registration closed


It seems that mistrust or scepticism about scientific findings, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change, are taking a more prominent spot in the public discussion. This naturally raises the question whether the general public should even trust science, and if so, why and to what extent?
We as scientists are often quick to assume that the scientific process is the ultimate way of answering questions, often listing its perks such as objectivity, reproducibility, falsifiability and the peer-review process. However, this view is not set in stone, which is why we want to open the discussion about the limitations and the potential of science, especially in relation to society.
In particular, we would like to discuss questions such as

  • How would science be defined by scientists, the public and philosophers?
  • What questions should be answered by science and with what certainty?
  • Why should anyone trust science and its findings?
  • What is the right way to communicate scientific findings to the public and what is our responsibility as scientists to reach out to society?
  • Is our education system with its current curriculum up for the challenges of a world in which critical thinking and differentiating between fact and opinion is more important than ever?

Moderated by Maximilian Fochler, University of Vienna, associate Professor at the Department of Science and Technology Studies with focus on science and knowledge cultures.

Organized by VDSP PhD students Anne-Catherine de la Hamette, Viktoria Kabel and Ksenija Simonović, with help from VDSP and VSM PhD students Clara Conrad-Billroth (VDSP), Flavio Del Santo (VDSP), Mateusz Piorkowski (VSM), Steffen Plunder (VSM) and Jakob Reiffenstein (VSM).