Press Release 27 February 2023

Democracy in progress. Launch Event “Futures of Democracy” at Futurium

From 16 to 18 March 2023, Futurium will be launching its new thematic focus “Futures of Democracy”. Visitors can discover new ideas and create their own visions in the exhibition. In the Futurium Lab, they can experiment with the opportunities and risks digital developments hold for democracy. To this end, the Forum is offering a series of events that – in the spirit of a living democracy – invite visitors to an exchange of ideas. The launch event will also be taking in a panel discussion and a concert by Ukrainian singer Jerry Heil, as well as guided tours, audio walks, a discussion game and workshops on the future of democracy.

Democracy – You can choose the future

The idea of democracy is more than 2,000 years old. Much has changed over this course of time, including our concept of what constitutes a democratic state. And what does the future have in store? At Futurium, visitors can discover how democracy can continue to develop. After all, pressure on fundamental democratic values is growing. Minority rights, the freedom of expression, and the freedom of assembly are under threat all over the world. Global challenges – such as the climate crisis, social inequality, ageing societies, and life in a networked world – demand solutions.

“Of course, we’ll also be making it clear that change comes at a price – and not everything that sounds promising has the potential to be a game changer.”

Futurium Director Dr Stefan Brandt

Futurium Director Dr Stefan Brandt: “Under the central theme ‘Democracy in progress’, we’ll be presenting a variety of thought-provoking ideas on how democracies might continue to develop. Of course, we’ll also be making it clear that change comes at a price – and not everything that sounds promising has the potential to be a game changer. It’s an enormously demanding task to strengthen democracy’s ability to act in the face of global challenges while at the same time preserving civil liberties. At Futurium, we want to make our own contribution to this important discourse.”

Over three festival days (16 to 18 March 2023), Futurium wants to celebrate democracy, while also questioning it. The topic of democracy will remain the focus of the House of Futures for a full year – until March 2024.

Programme highlights

On the evening of 16 March, Futurium Director Dr Stefan Brandt will be starting off the thematic year together with journalist and moderator Louis Klamroth. The subsequent panel discussion with international experts from science and civil society will be focusing on how democracies must change and develop in the face of global challenges and how democratic futures might be secured and defended. Among our discussion guests will be Dr Irina Scherbakowa, founding member of the human rights organization Memorial, and Nathan Law, human rights activist from Hong Kong. Another highlight of the first day of the festival will be a concert by Jerry Heil – Ukrainian singer, YouTuber and winner of the public choice award in the Music Moves Europe Awards. Visitors can also venture through the government district in a fictional and interactive audio expedition into the future or play the specially developed intergenerational discussion game “Krasse Kompromisse. Streiten bis zur Lösung” (“Clear Compromises – Arguing Till a Solution Is Reached”).

Admission to Futurium is free of charge. Here’s the complete launch programme.

New exhibits in the Futurium exhibition

In the exhibition’s Thinking Space Human, an expansive artistic installation playfully invites visitors to consider their own democratic actions and possibilities for participation. Short videos “with democracy itself” will be guiding visitors through the theme and the new part of the exhibition. Comics with fictional scenarios will be showing how different types of democracies – in comparison to autocratic systems – might deal with the challenges thrown up by the future. And when it comes to concrete solutions – for example, voting by lot instead of traditional elections, or new participatory formats – visitors can explore the advantages and disadvantages at interactive points. An introduction to the complex topic of media and democracies will be provided by the “Broadcasting Centre” with its films and interviews.

New exhibits in the Lab

The Futurium Lab will be featuring four interactive media stations and installations revolving around the theme of “Digital Democracy”. The interactive exhibits will enable visitors to experience both the future possibilities of digital democracy as well as the risks of new technologies. The installation “Opinionator”, for example, explores data, privacy, and the relationship we humans have with the technologies and platforms that have become so commonplace in our everyday lives. What happens to this data when our democracy – and thus our freedom of expression – is threatened?

New talk series “Dating Democracy”

In the nine episodes of Futurium’s new event series “Dating Democracy”, guests from science, politics and civil society are invited to reflect on and discuss with the audience innovative and alternative approaches for a sustainable democracy. Dr Ute Frevert from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development will be kicking off the event series on 27 April 2023 with the topic “Hello democracy! How are you doing?”, followed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Undersecretary Jennifer Morgan on “Dealing with Climate Change – Do we need a fast-moving politics of action?” on 29 June 2023. The individual episodes of the series will subsequently be made available on our YouTube channel.

Educational material

The new Future Box “Democracy” will enable pupils to look critically at specific behaviours, wishes for the future and negative views concerning the topic. The Future Box supports teachers in anchoring future-relevant methods and contents in their lessons in the long term. The boxes are available in the Futurium Shop (printed, subject to a charge) or as PDF download (free of charge). More information here.

The themed booklet on the focus: “Our Democracy – Ten Encounters”

Between crisis mode and a spirit of awakening: where is democracy in Germany heading? Our new themed booklet is about democracy in progress: what experiences do people in Germany have with our democracy? How do they themselves advocate for co-determination and participation? What are their wishes and desires? Among other people, a city-school spokesperson in Frankfurt/Main, a blind musician in Berlin, a former GDR civil rights activist in Leipzig, a local politician of Cameroonian origin who lives in a village near Munich, and a young Muslim woman in Mönchengladbach who is committed to diversity tell us their views. A journey in ten encounters through Germany. From person to person. Available in the Futurium Shop and in bookshops.