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The Schuler Democracy Forum

The Schuler Democracy Forum applies Trinity's research in the Arts and Humanities to questions relating to democracy and the media.

Based in the Trinity Long Room Hub, the Forum draws on the unique strengths and expertise of the Arts and Humanities: interpretative skills, nuance, long-term perspectives, critical analysis, empathy, and imagination. It puts questions related to identities, societies and cultures at the centre of its work, responds to the importance of lived experience, and recognises the ‘human factor’ in technology, media communication, and political administration.

Working with media practitioners and civil society organisations, and hosting a pioneering media fellow programme, the Forum is committed to translating research into real-world practice and activity.

The Forum is generously supported by Dr Beate Schuler, scientist and education philanthropist.

We invite you to join us virtually for the Forum launch event at 4 pm on 15 September, the United Nations International Day of Democracy 2021. Our inaugural Media Fellow, Mark Little, will give a talk on 'Media for Humanity - a brief history of the future of journalism' BOOK HERE


The Schuler Democracy Forum has three key aims: 

1. To engage Arts and Humanities research in order to deepen understanding of the various connections between the media and democratic systems;

2. To act as an innovative centre of knowledge exchange, bridging the divides between academia, media, enterprise, government and civic society, and engaging diverse audiences through a dynamic public humanities programme.

3. To translate Arts and Humanities research into real-world practice and activity, in collaboration with new participatory networks and communities.

While these aims run throughout the project, each year is weighted to focus on one area.


Year 1 (2021-2)

Interrogate connections between the media and democratic systems.

Year 2 (2022-3)

Activate insights, through collaboration with practitioners, enterprise and policymakers.

Year 3 (2023-4)

Empower individuals through engaged and participatory research.

Are you interested in collaborating with us? We'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with Dr Elspeth Payne, Schuler Democracy Forum Coordinator (

Media Fellow Scheme

The Schuler Democracy Forum has established a new Media Fellow scheme to bring practitioners into the university research environment. 

In partnership with the Forum Coordinator, the Media Fellow will explore how Arts and Humanities research can deepen and develop our understanding of the complex intersection of democracy and media. Each Media Fellow will identify a specific challenge, related to this topic, on which to focus during their residency.

2021-22 Media Fellow: Mark Little 

Mark Little is an entrepreneur, journalist and Trinity College graduate. He spent 20 years in broadcast news, as a reporter and presenter for RTÉ. He was the station's first Washington Correspondent. In 2001, he won the Irish TV Journalist of the Year award for his reporting from Afghanistan. He was also anchor of the current affairs programme Prime Time, and wrote three books about US and world affairs. In 2010, he founded the world's first social news agency Storyful, which was eventually sold to News Corp. He worked for Twitter, as Vice President for Media in Europe and Managing Director of its International Headquarters. In 2017, he co-founded Kinzen, which combines editorial skills and artificial intelligence to protect online conversations and communities. Mark also served on the Future of Media Commission, established by the Irish government in 2020 to provide a strategy for the future of public media in Ireland.

Mark will look back on three decades of media disruption and build the optimist's case for a new era of purpose-driven journalism in his talk' Media for Humanity - a brief history of the future of journalism' on 15 September 2021 at 4 pm. BOOK HERE

To mark the announcement of the Forum, a special panel event was held on 27 April 2021 at which journalists and academics considered the present function of the ‘fourth estate’ and asked how the media can effectively support democracy. Listen back to ‘Revisiting the Fourth Estate: does the media still serve democracy?’ here.

Related Initiatives

Community Engagement Praxis for Research in the Arts and Humanities (CEPRAH): a project led by the Trinity Long Room Hub in partnership with AONTAS, Ireland's National Adult Learning Organisation, and funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant (Strand 1a). The project aims to improve collaboration between the Arts and Humanities and civic and community organisations. CEPRAH will run until December 2021.

Trinity Long Room Hub Policy Initiative: a project which seeks to support Arts Humanities engagement in the policy sphere. It aims to develop expertise in the communication skills required for evidence-based policy engagement and to highlight the potential and relevance of the Arts and Humanities to professional policy-making bodies. 

Past Projects 

CHCI-Mellon Global Humanities Institute (GHI) on the Crises of Democracy: an 18-month project funded by the Consortium of Humanities and Centres institutes and the A.W. Mellon Foundation involving five international partners and producing an open access multi-modal curriculum.

Rethinking Democracy in an Age of Pandemic: a six-part series which ran across April and May 2020 exploring the impact of the pandemic on democracies worldwide organised in partnership with the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University. A free online curriculum exploring these issues was launched in December 2020.

Rethinking Democracy Podcast: a series of three audio podcasts with panellists from the 'Rethinking Democracy' series organised in partnership with the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University.


Please direct all queries to Dr Elspeth Payne, Schuler Democracy Forum Coordinator in the Trinity Long Room Hub.

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