Conference „Revitalising Democracy in Times of Division”

28-29 October 2020, Bonn | Democracies in Europe are challenged by declining trust in democratic institutions, the rise of populism, and an increasing polarization of societies. Social sciences and humanities research is needed to better understand the characteristics, origins and consequences of these developments.

Plenary Room

Adobe Stock/Anton Gvozdikov

The German EU council presidency conference “Revitalising Democracy in Times of Division” seeks to shed light on the vast amount of research results already in existence in the thematic area of democracy, while also discussing and identifying how these results can be transferred and taken up into practice. On the other hand, the conference will also debate new, exciting, and pressing research questions that need to be addressed on a European level in the future. In this regard, the following questions will be at the heart of the conference:

  • What are the contributions made by the social sciences and humanities with regard to analysing social divisions and challenges to democracy? How can these contributions support the development of solutions? What perspectives, in particular, do the humanities have to offer?
  • What results from these contributions for research funding programmes with regard to future funding topics under Horizon Europe, the next European Research and Innovation Framework Programme, 2021-2027?
  • Which recent research projects on the above mentioned topics can serve as a means of demonstrating how research performed by the social sciences and humanities suggest solutions to complex social issues?
  • How can the societal impact of research results be increased?

This international conference will engage up to 300 participants from research, research policy, research management and funding organisations, as well as participants from civil society. It will utilize an interactive approach to facilitate exchange and stimulate debate on how research can strengthen the knowledge base on democracy. Also to be addressed during the conference is the role of transdisciplinary research and the cooperation between researchers and societal stakeholders as a means of increasing the potential societal impact of funded research.

Aims of the conference – what we would like to achieve:

The overall mission of the conference will be to provide an international platform for academia, research policy/management, and stakeholders from civil society to discuss the contributions of social sciences and humanities with regard to addressing the above described challenges to European democracies. A specific focus of the conference will be on the identification of future research topics.

To help address this mission, the conference will work to meet the following specific objectives:

  • An increased awareness amongst (research) policy makers of the social relevance of research projects on the conference topics.
  • A better understanding of how to support science-based policy making in regard to challenges to democracy.
  • A list of prioritized potential research topics for the upcoming Horizon Europe programme within each of the three defined focus areas of the conference.

The conference is organised by DLR Projektträger on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the European Commission.