Democracy in a Digital Society: Trust, Evidence and Public Discourse in a Changing Media Environment

Conference organised by ALLEA and Re-Imagine Europa (RIE)

This full day conference aimed to address some of the most pressing questions around the impact of digital transformations on democratic institutions in Europe and beyond. Considering recent events and the urgency to understand this complex relationship, renowned speakers from policy, academia, journalism and civil society came together in Berlin to reflect on different aspects of political legitimation, societal trust, scientific evidence and public discourse in a rapidly changing media environment.

The communication ecosystem is central to a well-functioning society. Its influence in shaping minds – and thus reality – has been emphasised by its enormous impact on recent political events, underlining the fact that the control and ownership of the internet is one of the most important battles of our time. The European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel, president of Re-Imagine Europa and former President of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing,  ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno, sociologist Manuel Castells and former president of the British Academy Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve were among the speakers of the event.

Hosted by the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the forum brought together leading experts from academia, politics, industry, civil society organisations and media to come-up with proposals of how a European model for a digital society could look like and which values should guide this process. The discussions built on the work developed by the ALLEA Working Group Truth, Trust and Expertise and acted as the starting point for Re-Imagine Europa’s task force on Democracy in a Digital Society.

Questions addressed during the conference included:

  • How can we maintain a healthy media ecosystem in a digital world?
  • How does disinformation spread on social media?
  • What is the role of narratives in creating shared world views?
  • What is the value of societal trust in scientific evidence?
  • How can we deal with big data in an ethical way?


24 January 2019

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Open to the public; registration mandatory

To register, please send an e-mail to


Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities,
Jaegerstr. 22/23, 10117 Berlin, Germany




Daniel Kaiser
Scientific Policy Officer