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The Democracy Forum

The Trinity Long Room Hub’s Democracy Forum applies Trinity's research in the Arts and Humanities to questions at the interface of media, technology, and democracy.

Based in the Trinity Long Room Hub, the Forum draws on the unique strengths and expertise of the Arts and Humanities: long-term perspectives, critical analysis, 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 the Forum is committed to translating research into real-world practice and activity. 

With thanks to Dr Beate Schuler, scientists and educational philanthropist, for generously supporting research and engagement activities between 2019 and 2023.  


Ellie Payne is the Coordinator of The Democracy Forum. She previously worked on the crises of democracy and Rethinking Democracy in an Age of Pandemic projects in the Trinity Long Room Hub. Ellie holds a PhD and MPhil from Trinity College Dublin and a BA from the University of Oxford. 

Ellie is currently working with The Democracy Forum Media Fellow to explore how Arts and Humanities research can deepen and develop our understanding of the complex intersection of democracy, media, and technology. 

Media Fellow 

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. He co-founded Kinzen in 2017, which combines editorial skills and artificial intelligence to protect online conversations and communities, which was acquired by Spotify in 2022. Mark served on the Irish Future of Media Commission in 2020 and is currently Head of Product Safety Strategy at Spotify. 

Podcast: The History of the Future  

How do we prepare for the future in an era when the only constant is change? Join Mark Little and Ellie Payne as they go on a journey along the interface of media, technology, and democracy. Each episode brings together leading arts and humanities researchers and media practitioners to discuss critical themes around how we navigate tomorrow.  

Forum Events

History of the Future podcast launch | 8 February 2023  
The History of the Future was officially launched by the Provost of Trinity College Dublin at this in-person event which featured reflections from the podcast hosts  and a discussion with series guests. 
Read more here.

Censorship, media, and conflict: the case of Northern Ireland | 15 December 2022 
A panel discussion examining the broadcasting bans introduced by the governments in London and Dublin as violence escalated in the Northern Irish conflict in the 1970s and 1980s. The event was organised in partnership with Boston College.  
Read more and listen back here.

President Zelenskyy's address to students in Ireland | 18 November 2022 
The broadcast of Ukraine President Zelenskyy's address followed by an in-person discussion on democracy, EU support for Ukraine, and European values led by the German Ambassador to Ireland and the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ireland. The event was organised in partnership with Trinity Research in Social Sciences (TRiSS).
Read more here.

Ukraine – changing how we bear witness to war | 11 April 2022
A panel discussion examining the role of the war correspondent, uses of social media, and the underlying motivations behind the war against Ukraine as part of the Trinity Long Room Hub ‘Behind the Headlines’ series
Read more and listen back here.

Frances Haugen in conversation with Jess Kelly | 21 March 2022
Facebook whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, discusses how to make social media platforms safer with Newstalk's Jess Kelly in an event co-hosted by the School of Law's Technologies, Law and Society Research Group and the Schuler Democracy Forum.
Read more and listen back here.

‘New Year, New Media’? | 15 February 2022
In this virtual event, Adrian Bingham (University of Sheffield) and Mark Little sit down with Elspeth Payne to discuss the big questions facing the media in 2022.
Listen back here.

‘Media for Humanity - a brief history of the future of journalism' |  15 September 2021
In this talk, organised to mark the launch of the Schuler Democracy Forum, Mark Little looks back on three decades of media disruption and builds the optimist's case for a new era of purpose-driven journalism.
Read more and listen back here.

‘Revisiting the Fourth Estate: does the media still serve democracy?’| 27 April 2021
A panel discussion with journalists and academics considering the present function of the ‘fourth estate’ and asking how the media can effectively support democracy
Listen back here.

Related Initiatives

Critical ChangeLab is an EU-funded project to develop and deliver a transdisciplinary learning programme to foster young people's agency and active citizenship in Ireland and across Europe. The programme will use creative technologies and draw on diverse practices from storytelling, science, theatre, and visual arts, with the first outputs exhibited at the inaugural  Beta Festival in Dublin in November 2023. The Critical ChangeLab also involves the development of the democracy health index for assessing everyday democracy in different learning environments. Researchers from Trinity's School of Education and the Trinity Long Room Hub are part of a consortium of 10 European research and practice partners.   

Community Engagement Praxis for Research in the Arts and Humanities (CEPRAH): a project led by the Trinity Long Room Hub in partnership with AONTAS and funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant (Strand 1a). An open access portfolio documenting the key findings of the project was launched on 15 June 2022 and is available at

Trinity Long Room Hub Policy Initiative: a project which seeks to support Arts Humanities engagement in the policy sphere. A position paper emerging from the findings of the Policy Initiative 2020-1 is available at

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 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. 

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.


Dr Elspeth Payne, The Democracy Forum Coordinator (

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