Transparency and Society - Between Promise and Peril

Beginn: Uhr
Ende: Uhr
Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW)

The Herrenhausen Conference on June 12 - 14, 2018, in Berlin focuses on transparency within society between democratization and surveillance, security and freedom, public interest and private sphere.

Society between democratization and surveillance. (Photo: Jan Kickinger / EyeEm –
Society between democratization and surveillance. (Photo: Jan Kickinger / EyeEm –

For several decades now, "transparency" has become an omnipresent concept in the public discourse. At the same time, however, it manifests as both hope and danger, medium of democratization and of surveillance, as augmentation of freedom and a threat to privacy. In the face of this ambivalence, the study of transparency and its role in the development and transformation of modern societies has increasingly become a field of research in the humanities and social sciences in its own right. The Herrenhausen Conference will debate discourses and practices, as well as the borders and ambiguities of transparency within the context of broader social and cultural change, in particular with regard to publicity, open government, institutional environments, the individual, and the digital age. The conference aims to promote a deeper understanding of transparency and identify approaches to handle the different and diverging demands and expectations on transparency within society. A major goal will be to contribute to answering the question of how a socially accepted balance between security and freedom, between public interest and private sphere can be achieved. The conference provides a forum for debate between researchers in the humanities and the social sciences, experts from NGOs, civil society, and the media.

"Transparency and Society" is part of the Herrenhausen Conference Series initiated by the Volkswagen Foundation. The steering committee consists of Stefan Berger, Dimitrij Owetschkin (both Institute for Social Movements, University of Bochum), Susanne Fengler (Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, TU Dortmund University) and Ute Schneider (Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI), Essen).

Herrenhausen Conference: "Transparency and Society - Between Promise and Peril"
June 12-14, 2018
Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin, Germany


A detailed program for the conference "Transparency and Society" can be found in the column on the right.

Session 1: Transparency and Public Policy - Historical and Methodological Perspectives
Session 2: Transparency and Open Government 
Session 3: Transparency and Institutional Environment
Session 4: Transparency in the Digital Age
Session 5: Transparency and the Individual - the End of Privacy?
Session 6: Towards a "Transparent Society"?

Confirmed Speakers Include

Padideh Ala'i, Washington; Patrick Bahners, Frankfurt/Main; Sandrine Baume, Lausanne; Günter Bentele, Leipzig; Rogério Christofoletti, Florianópolis; Thomas Docherty, Warwick; Mark Fenster, Gainesville; Ann Florini, Singapore; Jens Forssbaeck, Lund; David Heald, Glasgow; Martin Hartmann, Lucerne; Christopher Hood, Oxford; Vincent Kaufmann, St. Gallen; Ivan Krastev, Sofia; Claus Leggewie, Essen; Beate Rössler, Amsterdam; Michael Schudson, New York; Nico Stehr, Friedrichshafen; Siva Vaidhyanathan, Charlottesville.

Following workshop "Media and Transparency - A Global Perspective" on June 15

The one-day workshop "Media and Transparency - A Global Perspective" on June 15, 2018, following the Herrenhausen Conference "Transparency and Society", focuses on accountability of journalism. The workshop is organized by Susanne Fengler (Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, TU Dortmund University), Matthias Karmasin and Tobias Eberwein (Austrian Academy of Sciences). For more information and registration go to


There are no fees for attendance but registration is essential. If you would like to attend the conference, please register by clicking on the registration link in the column on the right.


The conference language is English.

Venue and public transport

The conference is held at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin, Germany. The venue is best reached by public transport. Directions can be downloaded in the column on the right.

Accommodation for participants

Please note that you are responsible for booking your accommodation. As Berlin is a city that hosts many events, we recommend booking a hotel as soon as you register.


Please cancel your registration if you cannot attend the conference. We can offer your place to another person if you cannot attend. Simply use the registration tool to cancel or send us an email.

Herrenhausen Conferences

With its Herrenhausen Conferences the Volkswagen Foundation provides international experts as well as junior researchers with a platform for an intense interdisciplinary dialogue on exciting new areas of research and innovative methodological approaches. The main focus of the conferences does lie on the current challenges faced by each research area rather than on further in-depth discussions and analyses of individual well-established topics. We are interested in unanswered questions and unsolved problems - and in the respective research field's relevance for society.