Workshop

Visual media is a complex language that is able to invoke deep and meaningful reactions in the viewer. It can be used as a tool to communicate information to the masses, make complex scientific concepts accessible to the layperson, or preserve powerful and inspirational moments in history.

Animal rights documentaries have influenced the day to day decisions of thousands of people by uncovering hidden truths about the meat industry through confronting images. Powerful use of photography and video has influenced the outcome of the Vietnam war. More recently, phone camera videos have brought human rights violations to the forefront of the media and day to day discussions of millions.

However, with the advent of modern software and editing techniques, also comes the possibility of creating deep fakes, and misinformed videos. The power of film, video and photography is diverse and far reaching; so what role does it play in preserving, conveying and creating knowledge in the 21st century?

In a time with overwhelming amounts of data and news, scientific studies are often considered a reliable source to confirm or debunk facts. However, how trustworthy is a scientific study when Coca Cola funds research to shift the blame from bad diets in causing obesity? For research to be truly unbiased it must be objective, independent and reproducible. Public health and government policies are often based on scientific studies, but if such studies are funded by companies with a vested economic or political interest, then how should this factor into our decision making? Every researcher wants their work to be meaningful and impact the world so can research ever truly be 100% unbiased? Should it be regulated further than the peer review system, and if so, how?

With the social media revolution in the 21st century also came the largest increase in expressive capability in human history. Social media can be a tool for spreading awareness around objectively good causes such as charities or human rights movements. However, it can also be a tool to spread misinformation, form hate groups, fear mongering and divide populations. In many countries freedom of speech is a constitutional right, however the laws regarding social media are in the early stages of development. It is unclear whether or not the same freedom of expression should also extend to social media platforms.

It is clear that social media has a strong grip on society and politics. In this workshop we will discuss how social media can be used to spread information and knowledge, whether it be for good or bad. Possible topics include: Social media movements: #metoo, #blacklivesmatter etc., using social media as a tool for activism, freedom of speech on social media, social media and politics, social media and discrimination, echo chambers, collecting data, spreading propaganda to target certain demographics, social media algorithms.

For thousands of years, religion has played a central role in what it means to be a human, it offers meaning to what can be considered a confusing life and gives people a hope for beyond our time on Earth. It filled in gaps in our understanding of the natural world and answered, in part, the hows and whys. In recent years, religion has adopted a slightly different role in society. How has the advent of modern science and technology affected the role of religion in society? Religion has claimed to be an objective source of norms and values. While this is still believed to be true to some extent, many governments are becoming increasingly secular, whilst some are not. How should religion be integrated into the educational system and policy making? Religion can be seen as a way of storytelling and offers many valuable lessons that humanity can benefit from. What is the role of religion in the transfer of knowledge between generations? In this workshop, we will be discussing the role of religion in today’s society and it’s relation to creating knowledge.
Human rights evolve over time. It is now universally agreed upon that slavery is objectively immoral, but why did it take as long as it did to reach this conclusion? At some point a cultural norm can be considered immoral. But the converse can also be true, for example the LGBT community have been given increasingly more rights in a movement that is slowly becoming a universal norm. However, even this is still under debate in countries such as Poland. Clearly there is a large difference in opinion as to what is considered a right and what isn’t. In as recently as 2018, the women of Saudi Arabia were only just given the right to drive. In this workshop, we will discuss topics related to human rights and creating knowledge. Some potential questions that could be addressed are: What makes us break social norms, and where does the concept of immorality come from? Is there such a thing as a universal and objective morality? If so, should laws still differ so vastly between countries? What role should religion play in what is considered right and wrong? What rights should animals have? Are there activities that are considered “normal” by today’s standards, that in the future would be considered immoral?
Activists have through the times been the ones to challenge the status quo, spreading knowledge, fight for justice and spread awareness. Had it not been for activists many societies would probably not look the same today, but these changes often come with a cost. There are many ways to do activism. Organizations like Greenpeace actively use civil disobedience as a strategy, which has proved itself to be a notable way to protest and fight for change. Students are often central in the activist movements, and in fact - ISFiT gives out the Student Peace Prize every second year to a student or student organization that has made a significant contribution in activism. However, not all cases are fought for with a pacifist philosophy. In some cases less peaceful approaches are used to achieve progress. Activists can be labeled as terrorists by the opponents of the case fought for, and in some situations the border between non peaceful protests and terrorism or vandalism is vague. Fighting for change is certainly not easy, and may result in situations that initially were not wanted. By having a look at some of the countries that were a part of The Arab Spring, it's obvious that change is not necessarily for the better. How can activists in the best way organize and perform activism to achieve change? In what situations may non peaceful activism be justified, if ever? What are the alternatives to activism for making an impact on society?
Modern technology has revolutionized the way we acquire knowledge. The world's biggest library is now in our back pocket; all of human knowledge is located in one location making it possible to learn any language, any skill etc. This technology opens the door for countless opportunities and has been embraced all over the world. However even though knowledge is becoming increasingly accessible on a global level, only 60% of the world has access to the internet. This leaves the lower 40% with undiscovered potential, which contributes to the increasing gap between rich and poor countries. Furthermore, with an increasing amount of technology and information: what is considered common knowledge by today's standards? Are we becoming too reliant on technology for our knowledge? In this workshop we will discuss how modern technology has influenced how knowledge is accessed, distributed and discovered and its implications
Throughout time certain versions of the “truth” have been brought out into light, adopted into our curriculums and generalized as common knowledge, whilst others have been hidden, excluded from the history books. The words history and knowledge are in some sense associated with objectivity. However, it can be argued that both these are highly subjective concepts. The winner has the power to write the history, but at what expense? You might have heard of the terrible happenings in the nazi concentration camps during WW2, but have you heard of the Metgethen massacre (1945) where more than 3 000 german civilians was massacred by the Red Army (Soviet Union)? This brings questions to what the history books of the future may look like. Will Poland’s anti-gay campaigns, Chinese “re-education” camps and todays discrimination of indigenous groups in various countries make the cut? The main question to be discussed in this workshop will be: How does knowledge work as a tool for both empowerment and suppression, who uses it and how? Is the way you view the world affected by a biased version of the truth? What biased history is being written at this very moment? How can we contribute to passing on a correct version of today’s happenings to our ancestors?
Fake news, conspiracy theories, clickbait. Before the rise of the technological era, journalism used to be reported exclusively by qualified journalists and communicated through the printing press: a one-way channel of information from the reporter to the audience. Then social media is introduced at the beginning of the 21st century, where for the first time, the audience can now participate in the mass spread of information. Corrupt and oppressive political leaders, conspiracy theorists and fear mongers can present “news" on equal footing as objective journalism. Who, if anyone, should be responsible for regulating or fact checking information? Knowledge is increasingly being delegitimised and scientific consensus is being dismissed. What are the implications of the spread of misinformation and how can we, if we should, combat it? In this workshop we will discuss themes related to misinformation. Possible topics could include:Confirmation biases in news reporting, Mass media, Fact checking in media, Partisan media channels, Free speech, Hate speech, The influence of social media on the spread of misinformation, Censorship
"You can't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree" - All around the world educational systems differ in teaching styles. While some education systems focuses on individualism e.g., Finland, others focuses on teaching the students a collectivist mindset e.g., China. How do these differences help or hinder fostering a student's potential and finding their place in a society? It is well documented that students respond differently to different learning styles, yet many classrooms are not so adapted to such a wide range of styles. Should schools adopt a more varied approach to education? Should more emphasis be placed on practical knowledge, as opposed to theoretical? In Japan, the cultural norm is built upon respect and this is reflected in their clean well functioning society. How do different educational system shape the society they are educating? Many countries are not afforded the same level of technology or equal access to information. How can an ideal education system be constructed given limited resources? What would you consider to be the ideal educational system and why? Other possible discussion topics include but are not limited to: specialized/general studies, private/public education, selective/forced socialization, biased curriculums, education systems and society, and government
Academia has traditionally been dominated by white men. There is a vast and growing body of research suggesting that increasing diversity in universities is beneficial for teaching and research. However, with these benefits comes challenges that universities and academic institutes also need to face. Even though academic institutions have progressed very far, minorities are often underrepresented in academia both as the researcher and as the subject of study. One implication of this is an increased rate of misdiagnosis in women and people of color in medicine. How important is representation of different backgrounds in research, education and academia in general? How has this shaped academia and research fields of interest? If it is beneficial to have diverse research groups, how should we approach it to increase interest in different fields amongst people with less representation in a fair manner?

Possible discussion topics include but are not limited to: Consequences and benefits of homogenous teams, the use of incentives and quotas in the hiring process, gender roles in academia, representation of minority groups in academia, brain drain and migration due to academia, decolonisation of academia.

“Mankind invented the atomic bomb, but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.” - Albert Einstein on the creation of the Atomic bomb

Humans have been using the scientific method systematically for years, and with this opened up a world of nearly endless possibilities.

Gene technology is a field that has had huge progress - and now allows us to understand and manipulate all living creature’s DNA. This has applications like curing diseases, and maybe it could be used to improve human beings as well?

Artificial intelligence allows machines to do any task a human could do, faster and more accurately. This can improve production, remove the need for humans to work and probably solve many more so called problems. It also allows states to surveil their citizens, giving complete control over criminals, law abiding citizens and political opponents.

The knowledge unlocked by research in these sciences, among many others has given mankind power in ways that earlier was not possible. As more technological breakthroughs are found, our power grows.

There is a need for a discussion on the interplay between scientific breakthroughs and their ethical implications. Knowledge is power, but is there such a thing as too much knowledge? Too much power? Can we make appropriate laws and regulations for technology that’s constantly in development? Is it ethically justifiable to enable research on humans that may have destructive consequences? Is it ethically justifiable to impede it? Where do we draw the line?