Centre for Informed Futures: in evidence we trust

Countering the global rise of misinformation and declining public trust with robust research and evidence-based advice is the fundamental and timely goal of Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures.

Dr Anne Bardsley and Sir Peter Gluckman
Dr Anne Bardsley and Sir Peter Gluckman: time is perfect for new thinktank.

Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures is an independent and apolitical think tank and research centre founded at the University by Distinguished Professor Sir Peter Gluckman – former Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister. Deputy director is Dr Anne Bardsley.

It was launched at an event at Government House on 4 March at which Sir Peter told guests the idea was born out of a realisation that it has never been more important for community and local, national and global policy decisions to be informed by evidence.

“Society is searching for information it can trust. But unfortunately, we live in a world where the contest of ideas is increasingly taking place in an unhealthy environment of misinformation and, in many places, declining public trust in democratic, scientific and societal institution.”

Leading universities such as Auckland must evolve to engage better and be more impactful on the key issues that matter.

Scott St John, Chancellor University of Auckland

University of Auckland Chancellor Scott St John told the guests that Sir Peter has identified issues that society must confront.

“Leading universities such as Auckland must evolve to engage better and be more impactful on the key issues that matter. This initiative places us at the forefront of what a globally significant university should do. Research need not only be empirical.

“It must also involve deep reflection, analysis and communications and must take better advantage of crossing and integrating disciplines.”

St John also highlighted an issue created by the proliferation of social media.

The New York Times has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes but only has around 3 million circulation. Similarly, The Economist has a circulation of about 1.5 million. Meanwhile, two of the Kardashians have 127 million people reading their thoughts.”

Bardsley says the centre will offer thought leaders and researchers a way to engage with the community and inform the policy discussion, while also offering a pathway to policymakers to find the right advice.

“We combine the scientific disciplines to provide collaborative advice that can help policy makers and civil society better understand the issues.”

The timing, in light of Covid-19, couldn’t be better.

This article appeared in UniNews April 2020. Take a look at the whole magazine

Read more about the centre at informedfutures.org