2021: Rethinking the state: Democracy between Order and Chaos
The International PPE Conference is committed to explore every year a topic of recognized relevance in order to stimulate interest towards interdisciplinary research,
advance knowledge and arouse sensitivity towards burning contemporaneous issues.
The 6th PPE conference will explore the idea of the state and the concept of democratic rule. Since the beginning of civilization, states are the predominant entity in the political organization of society and the economy. Up until the present, states have evolved and transformed through an untold variety of forms. One outcome of this transformation is the rise of democracy to global prominence. A great share of scholarly discourse concerning the state analyses the object of democracy. Various political theories view democracy as the determinate outcome of social progress and economic development. Other proponents grasp democracy as a necessary precondition for local and global peace and the equitable and sustainable transformation of the state.
While democracy is positively associated with the purpose of ordering the state in a fair and just way, it is constantly threatened by decline into chaos. Democratic chaos emanates from a multitude of internal and external contradictions and criticism of the state. These criticisms confront the democratic state with different challenges against its effectiveness and legitimacy. The remedy often recommended by the critics is the imposing of constraints on democratic institutions and to empower the will of the people.
The birth of democracy marked the rise of the perhaps most controversial, but at the same time hugely popular idea of the democratic state: a state ruled by its people. Democratic politics embodies the contestation of the order of the state. Being a source as well as a destination of criticism, democratic states remain entangled in the chaos of uncertain events due to competing interests and asymmetric information.
There have been times when the democratic idea fell into existential crisis. The urgent questions, then, are: when and where this crisis will happen again, and what are its causes and consequences? How can democracy remain actionable in times of increasing polarization? Will democracies be able to adapt to changing environments and technologies? Can democracy preserve peace and justice under the pressure of populism?
The PPE conference 2021 aims to address these questions and related issues from diverse academic and practical angles. The main objective of the Conference is to shed light on some of these interrogatives and to stimulate further paths of inquiries. We
want to enable a conversation about the state and democracy to be enriched through advancements in future research and critical thinking. We hope to contribute to this advance by applying the lenses of interdisciplinary and international research, inviting scholars and students to exchange their perspectives.
2020: World-scale justice - beyond Global North & Global South?
Is the Global North – Global South concept still relevant? Does it explain inequalities and dependencies in our modern world? Who is going to carry the burden of climate change? Is development aid morally justifiable?
We critically analysed the divide between the so-called Global North and Global South, raising questions around world-scale justice and responsibility. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the PPE Conference was held - for the first time - as a digital conference.
We had great success with this new format as 211 students, young scholars and professors from 40 different countries registered!
Our interdisciplinary participants created a truly international atmosphere and thought-provoking discussions during the keynotes, workshops, paper presentations and during the digital social activities.
2019: [re]framing reality
The way of perceiving, organizing and communicating about reality is called “framing” and its role in the modern world – and in particular in the fields of politics, philosophy and economics – is what the PPE Conference 2019 at the Universität Witten/Herdecke focused on.
► Dr. Eric Wallis talked about the use of framing in politics and journalism. He works with Greenpeace and the regional RAA centre for democratic culture against right-wing extremism and right-wing populism.
►Dr. Gudrun Reijnierse gave a talk on the linguistic aspects of framing, covering the basic forms of framing, as well as focusing on metaphors and how they shape the way we perceive the world.
► Dr. Amanda Machin gave a talk on the relevance of framing in the climate change debate.
The student paper presentations were truly the heart of our conference. The topics were as diverse as the participants themselves, ranging from the biases of internet algorithms to the awareness of different frames in the work of occupational therapist with young people from disadvantaged communities.
2018: The Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Growth & Degrowth
Blessed by the first sunny, warm weekend of the year, around 70 students from 17 different countries participated in the conference, giving this event a truly international, interdisciplinary and diversified perspective.
This intense thought-provoking, action-inspiring weekend was enriched by the contribution of experts in degrowth, sustainable development and finance, but most importantly by student presentations.
►Mladen Domazet introduced the participants to the conference theme by explaining the basis from which to explore planetary energy transformations, diversity of life, cultural roots of growth veneration and sedimentation of expertise maladapted to the end of Cheap Nature.
►On Saturday, Jörg Rocholl highlighted the arguments in favor of sustainable and inclusive economic growth and illustrates its necessary requirements.
►Following, André Reichel outlined a political economy of postgrowth.
►On Saturday evening, Mar Michelle Häusler created a bridge between theory and practice by talking about her personal life journey, experiences and choices. How do we represent the change that we want to see in the world?
2017: Transformation - Knowledge, Power, Wealth
The 2017 International PPE Conference was filled with 15 student paper presentations that explored the links between knowledge, power and wealth and showed how rewarding it is to go after one’s own questions.
The conference was framed by 4 Keynote Lectures that gave valuable input on power-relations in the corporate as well as the academic world, on the evil nature of time and those who exploit our boredom and on the relevance of an historical embeddedness of economic theory.
The fish-bowl discussion format enabled all participants, experts and young scholars to engage debates and share their knowledge and thoughts.
Once again the lively exchange of students and scholars attending the conference showed the value of bringing together different perspectives and continuing to build the PPE network.
The conference was made possible by the support of many individuals but most importantly the Witten/Herdecke University once again showed their commitment to student research and initiatives. Sponsoring from INET (Institute for New Economic Thinking) enabled us to invite keynote speakers from afar and ensured that we could reach our objective; providing a diverse and top-class academic experience for students from around the world.