Trust and its discontents

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 09:30 to 17:00
RMIT University, City Campus, Building 08, level 04, room 13 Megaflex,
360 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC

A free, one-day workshop convened by the Australian Academy of the Humanities

Convenors: Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham AM FAHA (Queensland University of Technology), Professor Julian Thomas FAHA (RMIT University) and Professor Jean Burgess (Queensland University of Technology)

Overview: The Banking Royal Commission and the crisis in governance of world-spanning digital platforms such as Facebook have focused public discussion in Australia and elsewhere on falling levels of public trust in business, media, social media and government. The Edelman Trust Barometer, a widely-cited, survey-based report on the topic, is one example of a host of recent studies reporting an ongoing decline in trust for all institutions. Edelman’s 2017 report notes a particularly sharp fall in trust in the media, reflecting growing concern over disinformation, or “fake news”. Some of the basic systems by which we entrust others — such as the commonplace agreements in which we give “informed consent” — are said to be broken by new digital technologies of control and surveillance. The question of trust is now centre stage in our hyper-sceptical, highly-mediated and globalised world, and the humanities and social sciences should play a central role in explicating the challenges for, and mitigating the risks to, the social, cultural and democratic fabric arising from the erosion of trust.

The proposed workshop aims to illuminate critical aspects of the current problem and future prospects of trust, drawing on recent work in the humanities and related disciplines. We aim to foster a deeper examination of what trust involves, engaging with the complexity of its cultural practices, and the forms of technological and institutional design it relies upon. We propose to consider the remedies for mistrust in public institutions and the media, and the emergence of specialised systems of exchange designed to radically reframe the issue of trust. The workshop will contribute to an exciting, interdisciplinary field, involving contributions from anthropology, cultural and communication studies, ethics, philosophy, history, economics and finance, and law.

The Australian Academy of the Humanities is a proud sponsor of the Cultural and Communication Studies Section's workshop on 'Trust and its discontents'

Download the flyer to promote to through your networks.


Confirmed speakers:

Professor Genevieve Bell, Director, Autonomy, Agency & Assurance Innovation Institute and Florence Violet McKenzie Chair, Engineering & Computer Science, Australian National University

Steven Spurr, Chief Executive Officer, Edelman Australia

Professor Frank Bongiorno FASSA, History, Australian National University

Associate Professor Nic Suzor, Law, Queensland University of Technology

Professor Justin O'Brien, Australian Centre for Financial Studies, Monash Business School

Dr Karen Jones, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Melbourne

Emeritus Professor Tim Rowse FAHA FASSA, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University

Professor Bronwyn Carlson, Head, Department of Indigenous Studies, Macquarie University

Professor Jason Potts FASSA, Director, Blockchain Innovation Hub, Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT University

Professor Julian Thomas FAHA, Director, Social Change Research Platform, RMIT University

Associate Professor Ellie Rennie, Principal Research Fellow, Digital Ethnography Research Centre, RMIT University

Professor Jean Burgess, Director, Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology

Workshop proceedings will be developed for a special issue of a journal.

Transport and access: 

Public transport: To reach RMIT catch a City Loop train to nearby Melbourne Central train station or to Flinders Street. From Flinders Street, you can take a connecting City Loop train or Yarra Tram along Swanston Street. Trams running along Swanston Street include routes 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 16, 64, 67 and 72. Tram routes 24, 30 and 35 run along La Trobe Street. Visit the Public Transport Victoria website for more information and connecting services in your area.

Parking: No on-campus parking is available for visitors, but you’ll find many commercial car parks a short walk away. Metered street parking is also available nearby, but note the time limits and clearway restrictions.

Access: Download the RMIT City Campus access and mobility map.

Registration: This is a free public event and places are limited. 


RMIT phone: +61 3 9925 2000