Third interdisciplinary and international Speak Up! conference: Fake News and Hate Speech – a Challenge for Society

Fake news and hate speech have gained significant attention in public discourse, particularly in recent years. Unfortunately, many individuals unquestioningly accept fake news as truth. And a growing number of people face various forms of hate speech in their daily lives, ranging from offensive remarks to violent acts. This is also the case in the German-speaking Community of Belgium. In response, several organizations within the German-speaking civil society came together in the Speak Up! alliance during the late summer of 2020, aiming to tackle these pressing issues.

In 2021, the Institut für Demokratiepädagogik (Institute for Civic Education) at the Autonomous University Eupen and the Speak Up! alliance jointly organized an inaugural interdisciplinary and international conference in Eupen. This event brought together academics, practitioners, and members of civil society, fostering a valuable exchange of ideas and perspectives.

The conference prompted numerous attendees to express their interest in joining the alliance. Consequently, the alliance evolved into an interdisciplinary and international network, enabling collaboration and cooperation on a broader scale. Building upon this momentum, a second interdisciplinary and international conference took place in the fall of 2022, further solidifying the network’s commitment to combating fake news and hate speech.

Conference Format

Building upon our previous conferences, we are thrilled to announce that we will be organizing another event this year. The upcoming conference will take place online from October 6th to 8th, 2023, via Zoom, in the Central European time zone.

Our conference is open to academics and practitioners who engage in academic research or voluntary activities related to fake news or hate speech, exploring their causes, manifestations, and consequences in the past, present, and future. Our interdisciplinary conference aims to provide a safe space for participants to gain insights into current research and best practices, build new networks and, most importantly, contemplate how we can contribute to fostering a more open, tolerant, and democratic society.

For this purpose, we have organized panels where academics and practitioners from various disciplines will present their research findings and/or share their best practices concerning fake news and hate speech. These panels will serve as a platform for knowledge exchange and encourage further discussions.

This year, our conference will be accompanied by an exciting addition, the Speak Up! lab, designed specifically for young individuals (18-30 years). Participants in the lab will work alongside mentors to produce podcasts based on each presentation. These podcasts will provide an opportunity for Lab participants to engage with the conference speakers, discussing the content before and after the event. To facilitate this, we plan to record the conference lectures as audio tracks, allowing the Lab participants to use relevant portions of the lectures, with the speakers’ consent, for their podcast episodes.

Who can apply?

We encourage in particular – but not exclusively – graduate students, K-12 teachers, employees at colleges and universities (postdocs, lecturers, professors), social workers, lawyers, artists, police officers, journalists, psychologists, representatives of NGOs, as well to share their research and/or best practices to tackle fake news and/or hate speech.

While our main conference languages are German and English, we also welcome contributions in French and Dutch for presentations on best practices. However, please note that we will not be able to provide simultaneous translations.

How to apply?

We invite interested scientists and practitioners to send their abstracts together with a CV detailing their language skills and time zone by Juli 31, 2023 Submissions should be sent via email to Sabrina Kirschner at sabrina.kirschner[at]ahs-ostbelgien[dot]be. Following the submission deadline, all applicants will be notified of the acceptance of their contributions by August 7, 2023 whether their contribution has been accepted.