Linnaeus Knowledge Environment: A questioned democracy

The free world is facing its greatest challenge since the fall of the Berlin wall: the questioning of established democracy and the background to this. The purpose of the knowledge environment A questioned democracy is to tackle this societal challenge – to make sure that one of humanity’s greatest achievements, democracy, lives on.

Our society is facing great challenges within a number of different fields. Meeting these societal challenges with knowledge in creative environments that integrate education, research, and collaboration – knowledge environments – is something that permeates Linnaeus University’s vision and work.

Seven of the university’s knowledge environments have been appointed Linnaeus Knowledge Environment. These focus on the fields of education, materials, democracy, water, digitalisation, environment, and health. They all work interdisciplinary and link together subjects, departments, and faculties in order to get a broad take on the societal challenges within each field.

Societal challenge: A questioned democracy

Democracy is a common foundation for many countries. However, its ability to handle problems in society and welfare challenges is being increasingly questioned. More and more countries are moving in an undemocratic direction. Authoritarian values and parties are gaining ground. Alternative news outlets are challenging traditional journalism. Technology makes it easy to spread fake news.

School has one of the most important roles in society to counteract this trend. The work with democracy and values in school must be prioritised to give pupils the democratic values and skills needed to live in and take part in Swedish society.

The vision for the knowledge environment A questioned democracy is to contribute with ideas, meeting places, and new knowledge to meet the challenges the Swedish democracy is facing today, with the aim to make democratic values more well-anchored among the citizens.

Learn more about our research, courses and programmes, and collaboration below.



The knowledge environment A questioned democracy conducts extensive research within all aspects of the societal challenge, from three different central perspectives: representation, media, and citizen.

  • Representation: Democratic values as a common foundation for politics, participation and trust among citizens.
  • Media: The conditions for public dialogue and the reporting of political news.
  • Citizen perspective: Alienation and economic vulnerability as obstacles to inclusion in society and participation in the democracy.

The representation perspective

Based on the representation perspective, the environment conducts research on…

  • the ability of party politics to represent the citizens,
  • citizens’ and political leaders’ questioning of individuals’ and minorities’ rights for the benefit of populist, authoritarian, and nationalistic values,
  • citizens’, in particular young people’s, diminishing general trust and changes to civil society, and
  • corruption and abuse of power in the public sector.

Media perspective

Based on the media perspective, the environment conducts research on media’s possibility to act as the fourth estate. We study the connection between a questioned democracy and challenges for free and independent journalism by highlighting…

  • threats, hate and harassment that hamper journalists’ possibilities to give an account of society,
  • the retreat of the daily press from the local democracy,
  • alternative news outlets that challenge established mass media, in particular among young people, and
  • manipulation of opinion-forming, rumour-milling, mobilisation of authoritarian forces, and threats towards journalists and vulnerable groups from troll factories, fake accounts, and bots on social media.

Citizenship perspective

Based on the citizenship perspective, the environment conducts research on…

  • the ability and problems of civil society to mobilise citizens’ participation in politics and public dialogue,
  • their societal inclusion in different contexts of vulnerability, and
  • opportunities and risks with civil society developing parallel structures that replace authorities and other parts of the public sector, in particular in areas where many live in alienation.


The researchers that take part in A questioned democracy are active teachers who integrate their research in their teaching at Linnaeus University. On all academic levels, the teachers from the knowledge environment have developed new and revised established courses that problematise a questioned democracy. In connection to our students’ internships we collaborate with authorities and companies.

Management team