On 10 and 11 February 2022 the Department of Communication Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Brussel organized the online edition of the Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap. The Brussels Etmaal already started in 2021, with a webinar on diversity, algorithms and the role of public media with keynote speaker Jonathon Hutchinson and panellists from NPO, VRT and SMIT in 2021.
It was long unsure whether we were able to hold the Etmaal online or offline, but with restrictions still in place, the Brussels team now set up the academic conference fully online.
This Etmaal edition centred on the theme ‘Diversity, democracy & communication’, acknowledging that challenges related to diversity, and how these impact democratic societies, are closely interlinked with emerging and reconfigured media and communication infrastructures and practices.
The program kicked off with a keynote lecture by Prof. Natali Helberger, Distinguished University Professor of Law and Digital Technology, with a special focus on AI at the University of Amsterdam. Her talk, “Fireworks and democracy” focused emerging regulatory European frameworks. Afterwards, communication scholars from the Netherlands and Flanders presented their on-going work in no less than 14 parallel sessions. Besides the panels structured along the lines of NeFCA’s divisions, the Educational Network organized a special session and the Young Scholars Network organized a session on networking for young scholars: “Networking revised: how to successfully network (and enjoy it!)”. In total, 374 participants registered for the conference.
During the General Asssembly of NeFCA, several scholars were given awards for their contribution to the field. Sanne Kruikemeier (University of Amsterdam) received the NeFCA Young Scholar Award and Roel Lutkenhaus (Erasmus University Rotterdam) received the NeFCA Dissertation Award. Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap selected an article written by Willem Buyens and Peter Van Aelst (University of Antwerp) as ‘Best article by a junior author’ (2021). The Frieda Saeys Prize was awarded to Sofie Vranken (KU Leuven).
While colleagues of the University of Twente are already preparing the next big Etmaal conference (2-3 February 2023), the Brussels team remains active for the final ‘on-site’ part of this year’s Etmaal. On 9 September 2022, we are planning the ‘Dag van de Communicatiewetenschap’, an offline event in Brussels for the participants of the online conference. This day will include workshops, keynote speeches and panels and a long-awaited social event.
Organizing team at the Department of Communication Studies:
Prof. Dr. Tim Raats (imec-SMIT, VUB)
Prof. Dr. Kevin Smets (Echo, VUB)
Maximilian Grönegras (Echo, VUB)
Daniël Jurg (imec-SMIT, VUB)