From Alexa to CRISPR: Making Sense of Controversial Science in an Age of Polarized Politics

Speaking Science in Public Controversies
January 22, 2020 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Mississippi Room, Coffman Memorial Union

Dietram A. Scheufele, PhD

Taylor-Bascom Chair in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Morgridge Institute for Research

Modern science across disciplines is increasingly faced with often controversial public debates surrounding its societal applications. Genetically modified organisms, AI, and human genome editing are just a few recent examples. How do we all form policy stances about emerging technologies we know little about? Why are we as a society sometimes so divided in our interpretations of scientific facts and phenomena? What role do media, especially in online environments, play in this process? And what pathways, if any, are there toward better policy discourse around emerging science?


Emily K. Vraga, PhD
Associate Professor
Don and Carole Larson Professorship in Health Communication
Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Minnesota


Susan M. Wolf, JD
Chair, Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences
McKnight Presidential Professor of Law, Medicine & Public Policy
Faegre Baker Daniels Professor of Law
Professor of Medicine
University of Minnesota

Continuing Education Credits:

Continuing Medical Education 

Accreditation Statement
In support of improving patient care, University of Minnesota, Interprofessional Continuing Education is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Credit Designation Statements
American Medical Association (AMA)
The University of Minnesota, Interprofessional Continuing Education designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Other Healthcare Professionals
Other healthcare professionals who participate in this CE activity may submit their statement of participation to their appropriate accrediting organizations or state boards for consideration of credit. The participant is responsible for determining whether this activity meets the requirements for acceptable continuing education.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) for Attorneys
1.5 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits for attorneys have been approved. Event Code #279222

Following the completion of this activity, learners should be better able to:

  1. Describe how to analyze controversy over science and be better prepared to treat patients.
  2. Outline the scientific steps of appropriate science communication.
  3. Provide strategies for improving scientific understanding and public policy.
Dietram A. Scheufele

Dietram A. Scheufele, PhD, is the Taylor-Bascom Chair in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in the Morgridge Institute for Research. His research focuses on public attitudes and policy dynamics surrounding emerging science. He is an elected member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Communication Association, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. His consulting experience includes work for DeepMind, Porter Novelli, PBS, WHO, and the World Bank. Scheufele currently co-chairs the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Standing Committee on Advancing Science Communication Research and Practice, and serves on NASEM’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education Advisory Committee, the Board on Health Sciences Policy, and the Division on Earth and Life Studies Advisory Committee. From 2009-13, he co-chaired the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, a joint committee of the ABA and AAAS.

January 22, 2020