IGLP-CIGI Advanced Research Colloquium: Knowledge as Power in Today's World

Thursday, May 16, 2024 9:00 AM - Saturday, May 18, 2024 3:00 PM EDT (UTC–04:00)
Private Event: Workshop (In Person)
IGLP - web

The Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) hosted a three-day advanced research colloquium, “Knowledge as Power in Today’s World,” for faculty on May 16–18, 2024, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. This invitation-only colloquium was an opportunity to step back from the many current debates about science and technology policy to deepen our intellectual resources for thinking about the powers of knowledge in society.

The authority of knowledge is widely felt but poorly understood. The expertise of technical specialists of all kinds — economists, lawyers, scientists and soldiers alike — impacts our world, alongside the “expertise” of those who claim to speak for the layperson. Knowledge underwrites the authority of all these people. But how do ideas about what is natural, right or true become powerful, commonsensical or hegemonic? Discussions at the conference looked back to social theory and forward toward the potential of today’s new technologies in the search for answers.

Policy experts vie to assert, channel and harness their technocratic authority and to manage its relationship with the authority of democratic voices. Nefarious actors may seek to undermine “science policy” via disinformation as well as efforts to use science to support policy decisions. The conference aimed to examine the potential — and the dark sides — of “science policy,” interrogating its possibilities from the vantage point of alternative disciplines and adjacent fields of inquiry not usually brought to the table when matters of “technical” or “scientific” authority are under discussion.