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Leiden University & Elsevier Symposium on Digital Sovereignty

  • Jamal Shahin
  • Karen Maex
  • Azar Koulibaly
  • Giorgio Monti
  • Jan Wöpking
  •  Ron Augustus
  • Charon Duermeijer
Wednesday 29 November 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73 73
2311GJ Leiden
Telders Auditorium

Our ever-increasing reliance on software and technologies, out of convenience, necessity or otherwise, binds us to supranational and commercial companies that provide them. Is it essential that governments, universities, and researchers ensure that they continue to be in control of their data and software? Do we need to attain a greater level of digital sovereignty? What does digital sovereignty really mean and how can this be implemented? Which steps can be taken to transition to a higher level of control over technology and over data and how does this relate to our open science agenda? Do we need new infrastructure run by academics? Are there any examples that allow users a greater level of control? To answer these and other questions and to invite discussion of the core issues that are at stake, Leiden University Libraries hosts a symposium on Digital Sovereignty on the 29th of November 2023. This symposium is organised in partnership with Elsevier.

The symposium will take place in the Telders Auditorium, in the Academy Building of Leiden University. More information on how to reach this location can be found on the right side of this page. For more information about the speakers and topics, see the PDF- document below the location information. 


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Final programme

09.00 Doors will be opened 
09:30-09:35 Welcome

by Kurt De Belder, Director of Leiden University Libraries & Leiden University Press


Keynote lecture  

There continues to be a degree of confusion regarding the exact signification of the term ‘digital sovereignty’. The programme starts with a keynote lecture that aims to define the term. It will address several key questions: What is digital sovereignty precisely? How does the term differ from related terms such as academic freedom, data protection and digital ethics? What are the risks if digital sovereignty is fully embraced? What is at stake precisely? Why should academics and universities be interested in their digital sovereignty?

Keynote speaker: dr. Jamal Shahin, Free University Brussels/University of Amsterdam
10:30-11:00 Coffee break 

Guiding principles 

Which criteria can we use to evaluate the digital sovereignty offered on existing software platforms? Which activities can be initiated by the people who are responsible for software systems to make a transition towards a higher level of sovereignty? Would it be possible to define a roadmap for such a transition? This section of the program represents the perspectives of both private and public parties.  

How to redesign and govern a digitized global society?
Speaker: prof.dr. Karen Maex, University of Amsterdam

The Dimensions and Limits of the EU's Digital Sovereignty Policy
Speaker: prof.dr. Giorgio Monti, University of Tilburg

Public Values in the Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunities for the Netherlands
Speaker: Azar Koulibaly, JD, Microsoft

12:30-13:30  Lunch break

Examples of  implementation 

A large number of publishers and research groups have already implemented alternative technical infrastructures that allow their users a greater level of control over what happens to the data they supply. This final section of the symposium highlights a number of inspirational examples.

SURF’s roadmap to open science
Speaker: Ron Augustus, SURF


Current approaches to digital sovereignty in German academia
Speaker: dr. Jan Wöpking, Berlin University/German U-15


Governance to underline collaboration principles
Speaker: dr. Charon Duermeijer,  Elsevier


Panel discussion

The panel will discuss the concept of digital sovereignty from different perspectives. Some of the principles discussed earlier in the day can be further elaborated and critically questioned. The panel discussion is moderated by Karen Maes. The panelists are Jamal Shahin, Jan Wöpking, Ron Augustus and Azar Koulibaly. 
16:00-16:15 Wrap up


The symposium will be closed on drinks and bites at the Faculty Club. 

For any questions regarding the symposium, please contact the organising team:
Alenka Princic and Peter Verhaar via cds@library.leidenuniv.nl.

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