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Rathenau Instituut and Amsterdam University of Applied Science launch design research track Hybrid Democracy

09 March 2022
Hybrid Democracy
The digital transformation of democracy is at the heart of the new collaboration between Rathenau Instituut and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences Digital Society School (DSS). The title of the new track “Hybrid Democracy” signifies the challenge society faces in democratically governing the hybrid online and physical world. The goal is to design tools for stimulating the public discourse on overcoming this challenge.

The Rathenau Instituut’s mission is to support the formation of public and political opinion on socially relevant aspects of science and technology. "By starting the Hybrid Democracy track both Digital Society School and the Rathenau Institute recognize digitalisation is truly transforming our democracy,” said Linda Kool, research coordinator Digital Society at the Rathenau Instituut. “Therefore, we believe democratic institutions need an urgent upgrade”.

The new track will build upon recent publications of the Rathenau Instituut. This research includes an international comparison of initiatives that support digital democracy, such as online deliberation, agenda setting and decision-making tools. Simultaneously, the track draws from foresight studies on technological developments that pose a threat to democracy, such as disinformation and political micro-targeting.

“We expect the outcomes of this collaboration will emancipate members of the public as well as digital technology designers to participate in public discourse, address societal issues and reflect on their role and responsibility”, said Henk de Jong, director of the Rathenau Instituut. ”Working together with the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences also contributes to our understanding of the practice of digital transformations and our capability to develop options on science, technology and innovation policy”.

Digital Society School’s (DSS) mission is to research the impact of technology on society, develop the skills necessary to guide the transformation and pass on this knowledge and these skills to a new generation of professionals, aiming to fulfil the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. “By launching this track we aim to ensure that digital transformation of democracy contributes to well-being, prosperity and resilience in society”, said Gijs Gootjes, co-founder of DSS. “Together, we will train the architects of transformation in understanding, harnessing and strengthening democracy.”

Pieter van Boheemen, researcher at the Rathenau Instituut, coordinates the track. The research agenda initially focuses on technological citizenship, the future of digital media and democratic control over technology. “I am very excited about using the imaginative power of design to contribute to future-proofing democratic societies.”