The Role of Experts in an Age of Populism

Our panel examines why a perceived antipathy towards experts has occurred if, indeed, it has.

Members event, Panel Recording
1 February 2018 — 6:00PM TO 7:15PM
Chatham House, London

During the UK’s 2016 EU referendum, the then secretary of state for justice, Michael Gove, stated ‘people in this country have had enough of experts.’ This assertion has become synonymous with debates on the current ‘crisis of expertise’ and growing public disillusionment with the global elite.

The correlation of this and the rise of populist rhetoric in the last year raises the question – what role is there for experts in this environment? What gave rise to this rejection of experts and expertise—and what, if anything, can be done to reverse it? And how can experts fight back in defence of reason, evidence-based thinking and professional authority?

  • Digital technologies have made it easier than ever for people to access information but have they also diluted the influence of genuinely informed voices in public debate?

  • To what extent have experts and established institutions such as universities brought this crisis on themselves, by cutting themselves off from the broader public and by becoming too narrowly focused on obscure issues?

  • And what role have the media played in the crisis?

This event is organized in association with Foreign Affairs.


Dr Will Davies, Reader, Politics and International Relations Department, Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Tom Nichols, National Security Affairs Department, US Naval War College; Author, The Death of Expertise

Justin Vogt, Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs

Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, Associate Fellow, US and the Americas Programme; Member of Council, Chatham House

Chair: Alan Philps, Editor, The World Today

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A member takes the opportunity to ask the panel a question at our event on the digital revolution.
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