“Science · Peace · Security 2023” took place in Darmstadt

From September 20-22, international scholars discussed Technology and Transformations of Political Violence


Titled "Technology and the Transformation of Political Violence", the third interdisciplinary conference "Science · Peace · Security '23" took place in Darmstadt from Wednesday, September 20 to Friday, September 22. During the three day conference, nearly 120 scholars enaged in more talks, workshops and panels on current developments in technical peace research at the Georg-Lichtenberg-Haus in Darmstadt. The program consisted of more than 40 talks and idea pitches, poster presentations, panel sessions, one workshop and one dialogue panel connecting research and practice. In addition to scholars from Germany, participants arrived from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the USA, Colombia, India Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Czech Republic, Iraq, Austria and the Netherlands.

The conference was co-organized by PEASEC in cooperation with the Research Center "Transformations of Political Violence" (TraCe). 

The conference kicked-off on Wednesday, September 20, with the official welcome by PEASEC chair and TraCe scholar Prof. Dr Dr Christian Reuter. Afterwards, the first keynote by Dr Oliver Meier (Europan Leadership Network) focused on the possibilities for peace and conflict researchers to become active and support political pro­cesses for arms control and disarmament.

The consecutive days of the conference were entirely de­dicated to lectures, workshops and panel discussions. After being officially welcomed by the Vice-Pre­sident of TU Darmstadt Prof. Dr.-Ing. Matthias Oechsner as well as the organizers, the second day started with another keynote by Prof. Dr Alice Mattoni (University of Bologna). In her talk, Prof. Mattoni pre­sented her research in the context of the project "BIT-ACT" and discussed the trans­formative potential of digital technologies in fighting corruption by high­lighting the democratic ideals em­bedded in these technologies.

In the following presentations and discussions, speakers addressed multiple topics such as geopo­litical issues and (critical) infrastrucutres, the normative power of state actions or the Europan cyber security strategy. Additionally, speakers high­lighted the current developments  and paradigm shifts in relation to cyber-security and cyber-operations by dis­cussing autonomous weapon systems, human-machine interactions, missile technology or security policy against the background of the so-called Tech War between the USA and China. During a poster session on Thursday, 14 scholars pre­sented their research covering a broad spectrum from digital media use during social move­ments, critical infrastructures,  hate speech, to information warfare as well as disarmament and arms control.

Several TraCe scholars also con­tributed to these disccusions by presenting their research. Whereas Prof. Dr Markus Lederer presented on "Solar geopolitics - the shining rise of India", new TraCe Research Fellow Miyerlandy Cabanzo presented a critical perspective on issues in the context of protest and technologies. TraCe researcher Laura Guntrum, Verena Lasso Mena and Dr Kaya de Wolff also exhibited posters pre­senting their current research projects. Whereas Laura Guntrum and Verena Lasso Mena presented their re­search on "Unmasking Digital Threats in the Pursuit of Human Rights and Environmental Defense in La Guajira and Cesar, North Colombia", Dr Kaya de Wolff gave an in­sight into "Political Violence, Populism and Social Media in Brazil".

Dialogue Panel "ICT4Peace - The Role of Information and Communication Technology in (Digital) Peacebuilding"

A particular highlight during the se­cond conference day was the TraCe dialogue panel titled "ICT4Peace - The Role of Information and Communication Technology in (Digital) Peacebuilding". Mo­derated by Prof. Dr Markus Lederer and Laura Guntrum, who also participated as a panelist, the dialogue panel speci­fically addressed the interested pu­blic beyond the academic sphere.

The panelists examined the possibi­lities and risks of digital peacebuilding and high­lighted different aspects in regard to the needs of prac­tictioners and scientific re­search. As such, panelists emphasized the potential of digital tech­nologies in increasing access to peacuilding processes. Whereas Kerem Tugberk Capraz (Berghof Foundation) pointed to how even common technological products simplify connecting with stake­holders in peacebuilding processes by collecting stories and archiving them, Laura Guntrum adopted a gender perspective and highlighted how technology can en­able larger community engage­ment particularly for women and margina­lized communiites. Charles Martin-Shields (German Institute of Development and Sustainability) also stressed the in­clusive potential of technology when working with refugees and displaced persons, yet also pointed towards the diffi­culties in bridging the gap between limitations at the institutional level and the creative and often very specific ways and needs of communities. Lastly, Fabian Hofmann (Geneva Graduate Institute) stressed the im­portance of gaining a critical distance to the appeal of digital technology. He pointed towards the materiality of techno­logy that often already incorporates conflicts such as the environ­mental costs or human rights violations during production. 

A re­cording of the dialogue panel is available on the TraCe YouTube Channel.

The "Science Peace Security" Conference was organized for the third time and aims to strengthen scientific and technical peace and conflict research. 
More information on this year's programm can be found here.

To the press release (in german)