State of the Community 2017 Program

State of the Community: Every Decision Counts will bring together academics, professionals and youth to investigate sustainable solutions, anchored in the knowledge provided by the social and human sciences, for our interconnected world. The conference takes place under the aegis of UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations (MOST) programme, and builds on the outcomes of the World Humanities Conference, held in Liège, Belgium, in August 2017.


The conference is organized around three interconnected areas in which well-identified threats go hand in hand with new opportunities to support societies in responding to the challenges of the 2030 Agenda for inclusive and sustainable development. The possibility of a civic culture based on democratic citizenship is often perceived to be undermined by technologies of surveillance, control and communication that trivialize public debate; by exclusive and aggressive identities that leave little space for social pluralism; and by the decline of traditional modes of political organization. At the same time, new technologies for networking and exchange, along with more horizontal forms of politics, offer the hope of alternative and more fluid identities that can underpin new forms of social solidarity, including across the borders of states and nations.


How these tensions play out, and whether extremism, discrimination and inequality become more or less prevalent, will depend on the ability to reconcile globalization and traditional structures, legitimate individualism and social solidarity, the pace of innovation and the need for social debate about technologies and their application. Democracy critically depends on the strength and viability of institutions as nurtured by the people they serve, and thus on the civic convictions of citizens themselves.


The title given to the conference derives from the 2016 State of the Community conference, also held in collaboration between UNESCO MOST and the Dhillon Marty Foundation, which organized a student competition for “Phrase of the Year”. “Every Decision Counts” was the winner of the 2016 competition, highlighting the significance of the impact of every decision each citizen makes on the individual and the well-being of society. The jury for the Dhillon Marty Competition: 2017 Phrase of the Year will also convene during the conference and announce the competition winner.


The conference will operate in English and French, with simultaneous translation.



Stephen Boucher


Managing Director of

Read more

Fabienne De Smet


Coordination Unit for the Major Events of the Province of Liège, Belgium.

Read more

Divina Frau-Meigs


Professor of American Studies and Mass Media Sociology at Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Read more

Erin Moore

Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon.

Read more

Bahjat Rizk


Cultural Attaché to the Lebanese delegation to UNESCO.

Read more

Lionel Veer


Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Netherlands to UNESCO.

Read more

John Crowley


Chief of Section of Research, Policy and Foresight and Sector for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO.

Read more

Eric Falt


Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Read more

Georges Kepenekian


Mayor of Lyon City and Vice-President of the Metropole of Lyon, France.

Read more

Go Okui

Intern within the secretariat of the MOST programme in UNESCO, as a part of the credited PhD course work at Graduate School of Advanced Integrated Studies of Human Survivability of Kyoto University. Read more

Andrés Roemer


Mexican writer and public figure & UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

Read more

Peter-Paul Verbeek


Professor of Philosophy of Technology and co-director of the DesignLab of the University of Twente, the Netherlands.

Read more

Valerie Ferret


Public Affairs & Sustainability Director at Dassault Systèmes.

Read more

Setsuko Klossowska de Rola

UNESCO Artist for Peace and Honorary President of Balthus Foundation, Switzerland.

Read more

Chief of Media Services, UNESCO.

Programme Specialist - ICT in Education, Science and Culture Section, UNESCO.

Chris White


Collections Manager at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, USA.

Read more

Vincent Defourny


Director of the Division of Public Information at UNESCO.

Read more

James S. Fishkin

Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication, Professor of Communication and (by courtesy) Professor of Political Science, and Director of Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford.

Read more

Louis Montagne


Entrepreneur, Open Source.

Read more

Marie-Helene Parizeau


Full Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Laval University (Québec, Canada).

Read more

Yves Sintomer


Senior fellow at the French University Institute (IUF), professor of political science and member of the “bureau” (president’s advisory council) of Paris 8 University.

Read more

(names in alphabetical order)


Tuesday, Sep 12, 2017

9:30- 10:00 Registration
10:00-10:10 Opening Remarks by Sonia Dhillon Marty, Dhillon Marty Foundation

10:10-10:20 Opening Remarks by John Crowley, UNESCO

10:20- 10:30 Presentation of Our: Collective Future Project
Erin Moore, University of Oregon
10:30-11:30 Keynote Address: Making Deliberative Democracy Practical
by James Fishkin, Stanford University
11:30-13:00 Competition: 2017 Phrase of the Year
13:00-14:30 Lunch Break
14:30-16:00 Panel I:  Technology: Opportunities and Challenges

Vin d’honneur


Wednesday, Sep 13, 2017

9:30-10:00 Registration
10:00-10:50 Keynote Address
10:50-11:00 Break
11:00-12:30 Panel II: Identity, Why and for What Good
12:30-13:00 Award Ceremony: 2017 Phrase of the Year Competition
13:00-14:30 Lunch Break
14:30-16:30 Panel III: Deliberative Democracy
16:30-16:40 Closing Remarks by John Crowley, UNESCO
16:40-16:50 Closing Remarks by Sonia Dhillon Marty, Dhillon Marty Foundation


Salle IV, UNESCO, Paris

Program subject to change without prior notice.



Technology: Opportunities and Challenges

The transformative and disruptive technologies of the 21st century – including robots, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, biotechnologies – do not just offer new ways of doing things, or even simply new things to do. As they provide rapidly changing options to address needs for security, food and shelter, and emotional contact, and reshape the spaces of democratic practice, disruptive technologies also raise questions – speculative and increasingly practical – about what it means to be human. Alongside analysis of technological transformations in areas such as energy, agriculture, transport and information, the resources of the social sciences and the humanities are required to make sense of a world in which technologies are available to enhance human potential – but not equally available everywhere and to all; in which some non-human entities may interact with us in ways that are difficult to distinguish from ordinary language; and in which important aspects of our identities are constructed through participation in algorithmically governed networks.


Identity, Why and for What Good

Identity plays a central role in contemporary social and political debate. We care about how others recognize and misrecognize us, both as individuals and as members of groups. Most people wish to be able to define the terms in which they are perceived, and may feel hurt or devalued when required to fit in to others’ preconceptions or stereotypes. On the other hand, overemphasis on ethno-religious understandings of group identity may foster political tensions. Finding a reasonable balance in this regard implies pluralizing identity: recognizing that who we are, how we are perceived, and how we categorize others, are processes with multiple dimensions that respond to diverse contexts and situations. It is important to elaborate a language in which the well-known results of research in the social and human sciences can be connected to public debate in order to provide a basis for an inclusive and civic public culture.


Deliberative Democracy

Can we have a democracy of thoughtful empowerment rather than a democracy of sound-bite manipulation that serves simply as an adjunct to technocratically conceived “governance”? “Deliberative democracy” summarizes a range of ideas and institutional developments that seek to engage the public in thoughtful and informed discussion oriented not just towards aggregation of interests but also, more ambitiously, towards the elucidation of the public interest. How can the normative idea of deliberative democracy, which reflects key democratic values of equal citizenship and public reason, be approximated in real-world conditions at various geographical scales? Can new technologies and new methods of organization, mobilization and discussion play a role in revitalizing really existing democracy?



Our: Collective Future Project

Installation and event, September 12-13, 2017

“Our" is an installation and event by architect Erin Moore, in collaboration with author and philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore. “Our" is a framework made of nesting space for the larvae of solitary bees that houses the collective ecological future of the city as written in the futures of 100 individuals. Deconstructed into 100 bee nesting blocks distributed throughout the city, “Our" embodies the boundlessness of the ecological design site in architecture, the biodiversity of the living city, and the indivisibility of our ecological future.

Erin Moore is the principal of FLOAT architectural research and design and Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon. Moore uses her teaching, research, and design practice for ecological interconnection and to explore ways that architecture reflects and reinforces cultural constructions of nature.

Kathleen Dean Moore
 is an author, moral philosopher, and environmental advocate. Formerly Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University, she is the author or co-editor of a dozen books, including Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril and Great Tide Rising: Toward Clarity and Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change.