An upcoming international symposium, scheduled for 13-15 September, will explore some key questions to help us map a more just digital future, a future that “increasingly calls for deeper reflection and new thinking in philosophy, ethics, jurisprudence, and theology,” said World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Rev. Prof Dr Ioan Sauca.
The symposium will center around questions such as:
What do social justice and social injustice look like in the digital era, especially for marginalized people and communities?
In what ways has the digital era changed the notion of public space?
What vision do we have of a more just digital – and human – society, and how do we help to bring it about?
With speakers ranging from prominent theologians to grassroots innovators, and case studies showing the impact of digital justice on people’s daily lives, the three-day event is being co-organised by the WCC and World Association for Christian Communication.
The public can follow through livestreamed and recorded sessions.
The aim of the symposium is to explore the challenges of digital communication with a social justice lens, and to identify opportunities for concerted and collaborative actions with faith communities and among faith, civil society, academic, media and technological organizations.
Participants will focus on the impact of digital transformation on communities and societies.
Co-organisers include Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World), Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (Evangelical Church in Germany), Evangelische Mission Weltweit (EMW) in Deutschland (Association of Protestant Churches and Missions in Germany), and World Student Christian Federation.
The compiled fruits from the symposium—research, experiences from different regions and marginalized communities, expert input on economic and political trends, and ethical and theological reflection—will serve as a contribution to the WCC 11th Assembly in September 2022.
In this pandemic, we at the WCC have had to reinvent our communications and even our programmatic work, chiefly through digital innovation, to continue to stay in touch with our constituencies and to nurture and nourish the spirituality and ecclesial lives of our fellowship,” said Sauca.
But access to digital communication is not equal across the world, he added. “Further concerns arise from the marginalization and dismissal that groups and communities experience because they lack the means for effective digital communication,” he said.
The tie between digital rights and human dignity is vital for our time, said Philip Lee, general secretary of the World Association for Christian Communication. “Digital rights are shorthand for any aspects of the digital technology landscape that can be bettered by bringing into the open or removing government, corporate, or ideological obstacles to freedom of expression,” he said. “Such obstacles relate to accessibility and affordability, but also to ownership and control of personal data and digital platforms, the secretive world of algorithms, and to the extent people understand how media work.”