Establishment of the »Future Democracies« real laboratory

with Karlshochschule International University and ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

People sit at an illuminated table and work together

How do we want to shape the basic rules of our coexistence in the future? What does democracy mean in the 21st century?

For these essential questions, the ZKM | Karlsruhe and the Karlshochschule have developed a new place – the reallaboratory Future Democracies. A Reallabor means: We turn the scientific laboratory into a real place and we bring reality into the laboratory. Questions that people in Karlsruhe and the global village are asking of future democracies are being negotiated at ZKM and Karlshochschule in dialogue with science and art, politics and economics. At the same time, ZKM is strengthening its scientific competence: Björn Bohnenkamp, Professor of Marketing, Media and Consumer Culture, will be the first Scientist in Residence at ZKM and will push ahead with independent research – among other things in an independent publication series by Karlshochschule and ZKM.

As a cultural institution, ZKM asks what role culture can play in a sustainable society. In addition to the three dimensions of the triple bottom line, social, ecological and economic, is there also a dimension of cultural sustainability? As a place of media reflection, the ZKM is also dedicated to digitalization and its technological, cultural, social and political implications. In the Reallabor, too, we will trace digitization, what effects it has on our coexistence, on the digital ecosystems in which we reside. Karlshochschule complements the ZKM's artistic perspective with a scientific one. It brings science to the table of civil society and culture - and at the same time it questions the role of science in a future democracy. How do we construct knowledge through research, how do we separate different kinds of knowledge, and how do we make it so that in times of fake news societies organize a consensus of knowledge on the basis of which they can make decisions about living together? The setting of the laboratory will take its place alongside the space of the museum, we will play through experimental arrangements with visitors, welcome Scientists in Residence on site as a source of inspiration, and issue scientific publications. As a management university, Karlshochschule also asks in its teaching what role economics can play in a future sustainable democracy. Which future economies will democracy lead us to in the future, which rules of the markets dictate our game – how can we define rules of the game in the future? But people are also not only citizens in a democracy, but consumers in markets. The Reallabor therefore also wants to understand how cultures of consumption function and what transformation potential they have. When we ask how we want to live as citizens in democracy, it is also always about ethical trade-offs, about the question of what is the right thing to do - as can be discussed theoretically-philosophically on the one hand, but which can also be a deeply embodied emotional experience on the other. We would like to discuss this kind of an Embodied Ethicality and its role for the challenges of the future with people from Karlsruhe, the region and the world as an open forum.

Last but not least, we also have to ask ourselves: When we talk about the future of our democracy – what possibilities do we have at all to bring the future into the present and make it describable? How can we make the future visible at all? For this and for all the other questions, we want to enter into an exchange, with you and with all organizations, institutions, companies that are interested.

Organization / Institution
Karlshochschule International University and ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe