Can Truth Save Democracy? We’re Trying in Science Court

Curiosity Drives Progress Lecture Series: Impacting Communities

featuring talks by CSE distinguished professors Saif Benjaafar (Industrial and Systems Engineering), Lucy Fortson (Physics and Astronomy), and Ellad Tadmor (Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics)

Thursday, October 8, 2020
6:30–8 p.m. – 
Lecture, followed by Q&A session
This event will be held as a webinar via Zoom

Register today!

Instructions to join the Zoom webinar will be included in the registration confirmation email. If you have questions, please contact

By Ellad B. Tadmor, Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

Some say we live in a "post truth" world, but there is no such thing. Humans would not have survived as a species if they were not able to rationally assess the world about them and make sensible decisions. In “Science Court” we are trying to apply this common sense thinking to tackle controversial societal issues that divide us as Americans. The students participating in this Honors Seminar pick the topic, spend a semester researching the facts, and argue the pros and cons in a mock trial in front of a diverse jury of citizens.

Science Court draws on the traditions of the U.S. jury system, but adapts the process based on understanding from scientific research on how people reason and collaborate to maximize the likelihood of reaching consensus. The hope is that by spreading this model to other universities, Science Court will help to reduce polarization and help our democracy function in a time when trust in all institutions (including democracy itself) are at historical lows.

Read more about his class in Inventing Tomorrow, Winter 2020.