Over the past two decades, societies worldwide have experienced a series of disruptions to what was at the time perceived as the regular way of life: the COVID-19 pandemic, global financial crisis, increasing global population mobility, 9/11. European continent has experiences additional cross-border disruptions: the UK’s departure from the EU, the so-called refugee crisis, EU enlargement, to name but a few. Each global region has had a fair share of its own challenges in the past, and the true social, cultural, economic, and political effects of the COVID pandemic are likely to be long lasting. How have international organisations, national, regional, local level authorities innovated in response to acute challenges; and have these actually made a difference in dealing with these new challenges? How have democratic institutions responded to citizens’ needs over the succession of disruptions, and what differences can be observed between democratic and non-democratic responses, and between local, regional and national level policies?

The online conference will provide an opportunity to examine the role of local, national, regional, and international actors in the changing role of democratic governance over the past two decades. We welcome contributions that focus on moments of disruption to the “way of life BC (before corona)” as critical junctures in policy, political and institutional developments globally, and as such have had ripples across the globe. Moreover, the US under President Trump, Russia under President Putin, and cash-stripped countries in the Global South have had to develop their own coping strategies to the current crisis. How has this affected their governance mechanisms, institutions and political elites? Has there been a substantial impact on the role of trust that citizens have in their elites? Are we witnessing an authoritarian revival in the wake of the current pandemic, as some have predicted, quoting Hungary and Israel as examples? To what extent has the current crisis, and previous crises, exposed state weakness in parts of the world, and how have regional and international organisations reacted?

We invite proposals for individual paper contributions and/or panels that engage empirically, conceptually and normatively with these issues. We aim to feature the best of contemporary research on democratic governance under conditions of uncertainty or galvanised by moments of radical and unanticipated challenge, including new research by established academics as well as by early career scholars. Papers that focus on the social, economic and legal challenges posed by crises, past and ongoing, how they have affected or are likely to affect the future direction of politics in diverse settings are particularly welcome. We welcome proposals that develop case studies or compare the effects of crises on popular societal response, policy change, political innovation, institutional design, and/or accommodation of novel approaches to delivering governance in response to the ongoing pandemic.

In addition, we welcome proposals for roundtable discussions on current themes, which may include the outcome of the US elections, the political consequences of economic strain in MENA, or the impact of Coronavirus on ethnic minorities’ rights and equality, the future of Hong Kong or any other topic deemed relevant. Roundtables should consist of one chair and up to four discussants. The chair shall prepare some questions for the discussants before a wider debate with the audience opens.

If you (or your colleague) have recently published (or are about to publish) a book, we are happy to include your book panels as part of the programme. This should include a chair of the panel, the author(s), and at least three discussants.

Furthermore, the conference will feature several panels to the benefit of early career academics, including on “How to get published” which will bring together leading journal and book series editors. These will provide insights into how to draft, write and see a paper to publication in leading academic outlets. Another expert panel will bring together academics with experience of applying for and managing research funding from different sources. The panellists will help early, mid- and senior career academics evaluate their opportunities to maximise their chances of getting funding for their research projects.

The conference will take place online, there is no charge for participation. We however encourage all participants to join the sponsoring IPSA RCs, and would welcome any donations to the RCs organising the conference.

While we will use Brussels time as the time of the organisation, we encourage scholars from all parts of the world to participate and will be flexible in accommodating timing requests for panels from other time zones. A certificate of attendance can be provided by the organising committee.

The final deadline for the electronic submission of paper and panel proposals is 23:59 Brussels time, October 11 2020. Notices of acceptance will be sent out the weekend of October 17 2020. Proposals should be submitted online here.

All participants will be required to register for the conference whereupon they will be receiving a personal link for participation.