Aspen Institute Science & Society Program Puts Forward Recommendations for Building Public Trust in Science

December 15, 2023

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading voices in science, business, policymaking, academia, and advocacy gathered to create a roadmap for encouraging individuals and communities to view science as a tool for public good.

December 15, 2023 – The Aspen Institute Science & Society Program today released a report, Building Bridges, Earning Trust: The WHY and the HOW of Public Trust in Science. The report summarizes the findings of two in-depth roundtables convened in April and October 2023 with a diverse group of multi-sector experts.  The first identified why trust in science is important and why levels of trust in science are variable, and the second focused on identifying concrete strategies to build and sustain trust in science. 

The report is available to read in full here.

Findings are synthesized in an executive summary, which emphasizes that trust in science has consequences for life and death as well as the state of democracy. Recommendations include increasing trustworthiness by emphasizing shared values that bind people, scientists, and institutions; embracing changing science as a sign of a continued knowledge acquisition within a field that is responsive; combating deliberate disinformation by connecting scientists with local journalists; creating the conditions for retention, not just entry, for underrepresented voices in the sciences; maintaining awareness of the historical harms inflicted by science and scientists; and steering clear of a “one size fits all” approach by acknowledging that different groups (by race, religion, etc) have their own reasons for not trusting science.

Roundtable Participants:

  • Lori Rose Benson, Dr.P.H. candidate – Executive Director and CEO, Hip Hop Public Health
  • Luciana Borio, M.D. – Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations; Venture Partner, ARCH Venture Partners; former acting Chief Scientist, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Dorothy Chou, M.St. – Head of Public Affairs, DeepMind
  • Elizabeth Christopherson – President and CEO, Rita Allen Foundation
  • Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. – former Director, National Institutes of Health; Acting Science Advisor to the President, The White House
  • Cary Funk, Ph.D. – former Director of Science and Society Research, Pew Research Center
  • Melissa Heidelberg, M.S. – Global Bioethics Lead, Takeda
  • Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. – Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Julia MacKenzie, Ph.D. – Chief Program Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Shirley Malcom, Ph.D. – Senior Advisor and Director of SEA Change, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Lee McIntyre, Ph.D. – Research Fellow, Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University; author of How to Talk to a Science Denier, The Scientific Attitude, and Post-Truth
  • Ted Peters, Ph.D., M.Div. – former Interim Dean, Graduate Theological Union; former Interim President, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
  • Phyllis Pettit Nassi, M.S.W. – Prevention & Outreach as Manager of Special Populations and Native American Outreach, Huntsman Cancer Institute
  • Bonnie Newsom, Ph.D. – Coordinator for Knowledge Transfer Co-Lead, Center for Braiding Indigenous Knowledges in Science; Associate Professor of Anthropology and Faculty Associate, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine
  • Jenny Reardon, Ph.D. – Professor of Sociology and Founding Director of the Science and Justice Research Center, Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Christopher Reddy, Ph.D. – Senior Scientist, Department of Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; author of Science Communication in a Crisis: An Insider’s Guide
  • Annette Schmid, Ph.D. – Senior Director, Global Science Policy, Takeda
  • Jayshree Seth, Ph.D. – Corporate Scientist and Chief Science Advocate, 3M
  • Nancy Shute, M.S.L. – Editor in Chief, Science News
  • Alec Tyson – Associate Director Science and Society, Pew Research Center
  • Chris Volpe, Ph.D. – Executive Director, ScienceCounts
  • Reuben Warren, D.D.S., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., M.Div. – former Professor and Director, National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care, Tuskegee University; former Associate Director for Minority Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Anonymous journalist specializing in health reporting

For News Media: To request an interview on this report with Aaron Mertz, Director of the Science & Society Program, please contact Communications Coordinator Sejal Goud: 


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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