Georgina Aboud: Join forces. Contribute. Take ownership.

Development Policy23 Aug 2009Georgina Aboud

Welcome, everyone, to the ‘Towards Knowledge Democracy’ conference and blog. I am Georgina and I will be blogging at this conference from 25th to 27th August 2009. We are expecting hundreds of participants and visitors, and over one hundred keynote and panel speakers to discuss, learn, network and be stimulated by the disciplines of, and nexuses between, science, politics, society and the media.

It feels fitting that such a conference centred around knowledge should be held in Leiden, both the home to the oldest university in the Netherlands and teaching ground to the extraordinary thinker Albert Einstein. Equally, while I am obviously biased, blogging seems like an ideal democratic medium on which to throw out ideas and continue discussions and debate for everyone. As the blogs grow, I am hoping people will be inspired to contribute both in the conference rooms and later online.

The conference’s essential concepts and ideas are covered in this short paper, entitled ‘Defining Challenges and Taking Next Steps towards Knowledge Democracy’. t outlines issues such as how the media and politics are dependent upon each other, and how this relationship has morphed the political debate into superficial promotion. It discusses transitional issues around moving from a knowledge economy to a knowledge democracy and asks us to consider: how will parliamentary and new direct forms of democracy mix? And which roles will knowledge play in the transition towards a knowledge democracy?

The actual conference is held over three days and will examine the idea of ‘knowledge democracy’ through different areas of study, in order to create understanding from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

This conference feels like a real opportunity to bridge gaps and learn from each others’ experiences. The short paper mentioned earlier in the blog has the byline ‘Join forces. Contribute. Take ownership.’, which seems like an ideal motto for all of us over the next few days. To end this first blog, Albert Einstein once said ‘imagination is more important than knowledge’. But I think the two are not mutually exclusive, and this week’s conference might just prove this.