Symposium on Renewing Democracy

Symposium Renewing Democracy | Borders to Cross

In connection with Borders to Cross, the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam, Network Democracy, the Institute for International and European Policy at KU Leuven, and the G1000 are organizing a symposium on Renewing Democracy. The symposium is also connected to the celebration of the Erasmus Prize, which will be awarded to Jürgen Habermas the following week. All participants in Borders to Cross are invited. The symposium will take place from 14:00-17:15 on Thursday, 31 October 2013. It is free of charge and will be held at a central and easily accessible location in Amsterdam. Please register with Rabia El Morabet Belhaj.

The symposium is designed as an interaction between researchers and practitioners who share an interest in the future of democracy. We will use the sessions and experiences of the Borders to Cross conference as starting point for our symposium and attempt to come to a synthesis during our afternoon session. During Borders to Cross representatives of 40 initiatives will present and discuss their work in the field of social and democratic innovation. These initiatives raise several questions that relate to their significance for the future of democracy:

  • How are relationships within civil society and the private sector changing and what implications does this have for how they relate to government?
  • What new forms of deliberation and democratic engagement do we see emerging? In what ways do experiments in self-governance by citizens undermine or strengthen social cohesion and social integration?
  • Do newly emerging forms of public-private collaboration and community organizing constitute a risk for attempts to make society more just and combat social inequalities?
  • How is the balance shifting between standing processes and more ad hoc practices organized around conflicts, controversies, and entrepreneurial initiatives?

In the Symposium we will examine how we can recognize these trends from within and gain sufficient understanding to follow and support their development. The broader list of questions sketched above can be summarized in two sets of questions: (1) to what extent are these initiatives and their proposed solutions/methods new? and (2) what broader social and political implications do they have?

The goal of the symposium is to explore such questions together and to develop a working summary and synthesis that will help us to draw on the experience as we move forward. The format will be interactive and designed to produce a summary that has practical meaning for both researchers and practitioners. External experts in social and democratic innovation will reflect on the discussions and offer their insights.


Welcome by prof. dr Jean Tillie (University of Amsterdam, Head of Department of Political Science) & Welcome by representative of the city of Amsterdam (to be announced)

14.10 -15.30
Discussion Borders to Cross – What did we see? To what extent was it new? And what are the implications?
Introduction and moderation David Laws (University of Amsterdam)
– Selected PhD students who were present during Borders to Cross reflect on conference using specific set of questions
– Participants of conference (practitioners, policy makers and academics) reflect on conference
– Discussion
– Summary by Peter Vermeersch (KU Leuven – University)

Coffee/tea break

Panel on new forms of democratic innovations
Chair: Marcel Maussen (University of Amsterdam)
Maarten Hajer (PBL/University of Amsterdam), David Van Reybrouck, Carsten Berg (ECI), Ségolène Pruvot (European Alternatives ; to be confirmed)

Drinks (provided by Erasmusstichting)

Location: Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond
Nes 45, 1012KD Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Date/time: Thursday, 31 October 2013, 14:00-17:15