NCA Preconference 2017

ARSTM Preconference on Trust in Science

NCA Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX
Preconference date: November 15, 2017
Submission deadline: April 21, 2017

A recurring issue in public engagements with science is trust. We see, for example, “trust” invoked as grounds for challenging science when publics question the findings and products of science (on issues like vaccine safety, nuclear power, or GMO crops), when the processes of science are challenged (in cases like frequently changing dietary recommendations or so-called “clean-coal” science), or when the motivations of scientists are impugned (in debates like those over the objectivity of climate science or the appropriateness of scientific expertise to end-of-life care). In each of these cases, the condition of trust is central to the practices of knowledge-production.

In his work on high modernity, Anthony Giddens (1991) argued that the “[institutional] disembedding mechanisms” that make modernity work—namely, symbolic tokens and expert systems—”depend in an essential way on trust”; trust is what both demands and makes possible reflexivity as a continual and inescapable state through which the “circumstances of social life” are organized and transformed (pp. 18–20). Trust challenges or affirms the legitimacy of facts and processes, it arbitrates questions of appropriate expertise, it opens or closes off spaces for controversy, it builds the foundation for effective public communication, it questions or grants authority, and it expands or limits who gets to participate in technical decision-making. “Trust,” in all these senses, is rhetorical, both in its social functions and in how it is framed and constituted.

We invite projects and panel discussions that aim to directly address and advance our conceptual understanding of the rhetorical dimensions of trust as a condition for the production and sharing of knowledge. Submissions may be in the form of individual abstracts or panel proposals. Each abstract should detail in 300 words or less (not including references) how the project will further a rhetorical understanding of trust. Panel proposals may group up to four abstracts together, and should include a 100-word rationale for the panel along with the individual abstracts. Authors might consider topical lines of inquiry (specific cases or discourses that revolved around trust), theoretical lines of inquiry (where trust relates to conceptually connected areas like expertise, reason(ing), or ethos), methodological lines of inquiry (how humanistic, social scientific, and/or computational methods of rhetorical analysis can address questions of and about trust), and pragmatic lines of inquiry (how rhetorical practices can help scientists create better frames, narratives, and engagements for publics). Please do not include any identifying information in the abstracts.

Submissions should be sent as an attachment to by April 21, 2017. Please use “ARSTM Preconference Submission” as your email subject, and provide preferred contact information in the email. Any questions about this CFP and the ARSTM preconference at NCA may be addressed to