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Join the first meeting of the Societal Trust Research Group!

27 September 2023

Prof Leah Henderson: ‘Trust serves as the linchpin that binds our communities and fosters cooperation among individuals and social entities. When trust thrives, the need for constant vigilance and surveillance diminishes, making it a precious resource.’ At this inaugural meeting of the Societal Trust Research Group we will explore the vital role of trust in our society.

  •  Date: 19 October

  • Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

  • Location: House of Connections, Grote Markt 21

Leah Henderson is Endowed Professor of Societal Trust at the University of Groningen, sponsored by the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (KHMW) in collaboration with the Rudolf Agricola School for Sustainable Development of the UG.

Henderson: Our research group embraces diverse disciplines such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, communication studies, law, and political science. We extend a warm invitation to all who share our interest.

The focus of our research group is shaped by the collective interests of its participants, with a few key areas of concentration:

 1. Trust and Distrust in Science.

Trust not only underpins collective actions but also fuels the sharing and dissemination of information, particularly crucial in a knowledge-driven society. We examine the multifaceted relationship between science and the public, encompassing media, the internet, education, and public engagement, as well as its connection to policymaking. How can these channels be harnessed effectively for science communication and to instill appropriate trust in scientific endeavors?

 2. Disinformation

Disinformation campaigns wield significant influence over the interface between science and the public. Campaigns targeting climate change skepticism, for instance, have been disturbingly effective, eroding trust in scientific and authoritative sources. We delve into the mechanics of such campaigns and explore strategies to counteract their impact.

 3. Polarization in Society

Disinformation campaigns often lead certain groups to adopt alternative worldviews, fueled by distrust in mainstream information sources and the emergence of trust in alternative voices. This divergence in perspectives exacerbates societal polarization and disagreements. We investigate the role of trust in fostering or mitigating polarization and explore ways to rebuild the trust necessary for community cohesion.

 Within this group, our mission extends beyond the analysis of trust erosion; we actively seek concrete solutions to cultivate a society rooted in robust and healthy trust. 

This Meeting is part of the Rudolf Agricola Conference 'Connecting for Sustainability'

Contact:  Leah Henderson

Email:  l.henderson 

Last modified:27 September 2023 2.37 p.m.

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