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Global Affairs

Prestigious SNSF Sinergia grant for scientists from UZH and the University of Queensland

Professor Abraham Bernstein and partners from UZH and the University of Queensland have received a Sinergia grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) totaling 2,4 million Swiss Francs for their interdisciplinary project. 

The collaborative project “Large-Scale Political Participation: Issue Identification, Deliberation, and Co-creation” joins expertise from across disciplines. It is led by Abraham Bernstein (Department of Informatics IfI, University of Zurich), Gianluca Demartini (School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Queensland), Marco Stennbergen (Department of Political Science IPZ, University of Zurich) and Felix Uhlmann (Faculty of Law, University of Zurich). 

Impact of new media and AI on democratic mechanisms

In Switzerland, public consultation and popular initiatives are amongst the most impactful participatory mechanisms of direct democracy as they allow the Swiss public to influence the outcome of the political process and to set the political agenda. The grant will support research on how technology-based, crowd-computing approaches can be used to strengthen direct democratic mechanisms. 

Empowering citizens

In the project, researchers will develop novel, hybrid human-machine systems and test them in four environments, including the classroom, democratic settings in Switzerland and Germany, as well as in the Wikimedia community. Eventually, the research findings aim to promote democratic innovation and to enable citizens to become even more active, AI-empowered participants in the democratic process – ultimately ensuring democratic stability and welfare. 

The project is supported by postdoc Cristina Sarasua (IfI, UZH) and PhD students Fynn Bachmann (IfI, UZH), Miklovana Tuci (IfI, UZH), Valeria Vuk (IPZ, UZH), Catarina Pereira (IPZ, UZH), Marlene Schürch (Law, UZH), Serdar Bayana (Law, UZH), Shuo Yang (UQ), and Shangqian Li (UQ).

Anne Nuria Boekhout