The kick-off MEDem Conference & Workshop took place on 30 and 31 March 2023 at the University of Vienna, bringing together researchers from all over Europe to discuss the future of democracy research and the development of the MEDem research infrastructure.

“The easier it is to connect data, the easier we can make more out of the great resources and the great datasets that everyone is already producing.” Ruth Dassonneville points out why we need MEDem as an evolving European research infrastructure that brings together and links data objects on the functioning of democracies to better understand democratic processes . 

On March 30th and 31st, around 50 people gathered at the Sky Lounge at the University of Vienna to discuss the future of democracy research while enjoying the clear sky and view all over the city. The event brought together researchers from 34 institutions and 23 countries, along with representatives from the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the organizing team from the MEDem Headquarters. The participants engaged in a lively discussion on challenges and opportunities in comparative democracy research, data linkage, and the development of an interdisciplinary data research infrastructure in the field.

MEDem Community at the MEDem Conference 2023 © MEDem Headquarters
Hajo Boomgaarden and Sylvia Kritzinger with Martin Polaschek and Sebastian Schütze © BKA/Christopher Dunker

Conference Agenda

On Thursday morning, the Austrian Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research Martin Polaschek and the Rector of the University of Vienna, Sebastian Schütze, delivered welcome speeches at the conference, expressing their support for MEDem.

The conference featured presentations and talks on the future of comparative democracy research, including discussions of opportunities and challenges. Additionally, there were discussions on OPEN Science and FAIR data, as well as an introduction to the ESFRI Roadmap process.

In the moderated workshop discussions, current MEDem developments were aligned with future expectations and needs of different stakeholders and the MEDem Community.

“We need these combined data efforts to really understand the entire processes of democracy, and we need a strong central organization to take the initiative, and bring communities together in order to have a concerted effort of understanding democracy”, stated Claes de Vreese, professor at the University of Amsterdam, after the event.

Supporting Research Community

One main takeaway from the event is the importance of building a strong MEDem Community across countries and disciplines that supports each other and is open to sharing knowhow, insights, and data. Ruth Dassonneville sums up the meaning of the Community-get-together and exchange at the MEDem Conference 2023: “I really think we need more data linkage, we need more collaboration, and we need a community of scholars who believe that by collaborating we can get further.”

We extend our gratitude to the City of Vienna and the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science, and Research for their financial support towards the successful organization of the event. We are also grateful to all the attendees who actively participated in the discussions and helped in the development of the MEDem research infrastructure. In the upcoming two weeks, we will focus our efforts on garnering additional political support and coordination the country consortia to further promote MEDem and its vision. Thank you for your support and commitment to our shared cause.

MEDem Workshop © MEDem Headquarters
©BKA/Christopher Dunker
Ruth Dassonneville at the MEDem Conference 2023 © BKA/Christopher Dunker

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