The 2022 Holberg Symposium: Expertise and World-Making

Experts are usually seen as skilled in understanding and explaining how the world works, but they do not only represent the world: they help make it.

Modern societies have increasingly turned to experts for guidance on solutions to social problems on issues ranging from economics and national security to health, safety and the environment. The social sciences traditionally posited a sharp boundary between the facts that experts control and the norms that guide collective decisions. The symposium presents a more complex picture of the relations between experts and society, showing how facts and norms are co-produced in making social choices.

The symposium is held in honour of the 2022 Holberg Prize Laureate Sheila Jasanoff. There will be an introduction of the topic by the 2022 Holberg Prize Laureate, followed by presentations by four invited guests, a panel discussion and an open Q&A session. 

We invite everyone to ask questions for the participants during the Q&A session. Advance questions may be submitted here:

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by Professor Kjersti Fløttum, Chair of the Holberg Prize

Introduction of the 2022 Holberg Laureate

by Professor Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, Academic Director of the Holberg Prize.

Sheila Jasanoff
Photo: Martha Stewart

Sheila Jasanoff: Introduction of the topic

Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. A pioneer in the social sciences, she explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies. Jasanoff founded and directs the STS Program at Harvard University. Her books include The Fifth Branch (1990), Science at the Bar (1995), Designs on Nature (2005), The Ethics of Invention (2016), and Can Science Make Sense of Life? (2019).

Sheila Jasanoff is awarded the Holberg Prize in 2022 for her groundbreaking reserach in science and technology studies.


Silke Beck
Photo: UFZ / Walter

Silke Beck: "Constitutional Moments for Rediscovering Climate?"

Jasanoff’s pioneering work invites us to journey through the landscape of global environmental and sustainability politics. Following the iconic image of Earth from space, I explore the role of imagination in navigating scales and discovering the global arena as a space of constitution-making. Turning from past to future, can we see how crises like the Ukraine War and the Pandemic will contribute to reframing climate risks and reconstituting relations between citizens, experts, and states?

Silke Beck is Professor of Sociology of Science at the STS Department, Technical University of Munich. Her research focuses on the role of expertise in the field of climate change, biodiversity and sustainability transformation. She contributed to a variety of recent assessment activities, including IPCC and IPBES. 

Andrew Lang
Photo: Private

Andrew Lang: "Expertise, Ignorance and International Governance"

This presentation will trace the formative role that science and technology studies has played in our understanding of the politics and practice of expertise in international economic institutions in the post-Cold War era.

Andrew Lang is Professor of Law at University of Edinburgh Law School, where he holds the Chair in International Law and Global Governance. His research focuses on international knowledge practices in the constitution of global markets and global market governance.


Ben Hurlbut
Photo: Private

Ben Hurlbut: "Science, Progress and Other Reasons"

Calls for resolving democratic disagreement by deferring to “the science” have reached a fever pitch. Science is held up as arbiter of secular reason and protector of progress, even as expertise is a site of intensifying political division. Sheila Jasanoff has shown how the politics of expertise, far from inimical to democracy, are fundamental to it. Her pioneering work offers a pathway to reconceiving—and renewing—the place of science within the project of democracy.

J. Benjamin Hurlbut, Ph.D. is associate professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He is author of Experiments in Democracy: Human Embryo Research and the Politics of Bioethics. He holds a PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University.

Patricia Williams
Photo: Private

Patricia Williams: "The Regulation of Hubris"

The sudden Promethean power to edit our own genes has seemingly inspired a disinhibited techno-optimism, whose ambition for immortality and guaranteed future outcomes knows few bounds. Professor Sheila Jasanoff's career has focused on the urgent necessity for collective governance, recognition of ecological entanglement, and infinitely complex ethical reflection.

Patricia Williams holds appointments in both the School of Law and the Department of Philosophy at Northeastern University. She has authored six books, and hundreds of professional articles. Williams is the recipient of seven honorary degrees and of a MacArthur «genius» grant.


by Holberg Laureate Sheila Jasanoff

Panel discussion and Q&A

Closing remarks

by Professor Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, Academic Director of the Holberg Prize.

This event is a part of the Holberg Week, which this year takes place 7—10 June.


to 13:00, CEST.

03:00 AM to 07:00 AM, EDT

University Aula, Bergen
Practical information
Free admittance.
No pre-registration needed.