Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Charles Perkins Centre Annual Lecture 2023

Professor Sheila Jasanoff “Public health sovereignty and public reason: a comparative perspective”

Professor Sheila Jasanoff

Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies
Havard Kennedy School

Date: Wednesday 2 August 2023, 5.30 pm – 7.00 pm AEST 
Venue: University of Sydney, Camperdown Campus — venue to be confirmed
Registration:  Registration through the University of Sydney is required
Entry: Free
All are welcome

The 2023 Charles Perkins Centre Annual Lecture is presented jointly by the University of Sydney Charles Perkins Centre and the Sydney Law School.

Summary: Drawing on varied policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, Professor Jasanoff argues that national health policies reflect underlying social compacts regarding the mutual obligations of citizens, experts, and the state. This approach helps make sense of wide divergences in measures taken by states worldwide to combat Covid-19 and ensure recovery.

This talk challenges conventional understandings of modernity as the product of two trajectories that sustain each other and improve human futures: one of advances in science and technology and the other of social progress. Progress is here imagined as always in-the-making, riding on the wings of scientific enlightenment. There is no room for backsliding in this view, only the horizon of greater emancipation.

But what if this idea of modernity is itself an imaginary overlaid on less tidy epistemic and political commitments? What if, instead of perfection through knowledge and reason, modernity is a patchwork of opaque delegations whereby control over minds, bodies, and nature’s workings is handed over to experts with quasi-sovereign power to regulate their respective domains? Empirically exploring these questions provides insights into contemporary debates on populism and loss of trust in science.

Site by
Privacy policy |  Links to other societies
Editor Login
Disclaimer: Positions expressed on this website by authors of publications and
event presenters do not necessarily reflect those of the Society.
The Royal Society of New South Wales acknowledges the traditional custodians
of the lands on which we live and work, and we pay our respects to Elders past and present.
All rights reserved. Copyright © The Royal Society of NSW.
ABN: 76 470 896 415


We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.