Official course description:
AbstractThis course examines the socio-political, ethical and legal contexts of data by investigating a range of recent data controversies. In this course students will learn to critically reflect upon the multiple ways data is articulated as a controversial legal and ethical object.
Our contemporary moment is increasingly characterized by and through data. Data is said to be the new oil or currency, perhaps even a new vehicle of societal growth. From quantified-self movements to new forms of economics (such as bitcoin and platform capitalism) and sensing-based environments (the internet of things), data continues to proliferate and multiply. In this process, data is transforming people, organizations and societies. This ‘data moment’ poses important empirical, theoretical, legal and ethical challenges. It is an opportunity to take stock of how we might engage and think with data.
This course will examine the socio-political, ethical and legal contexts of data. In highlighting the various modes and forms through which data emerges, the course will encourage students to engage critically and reflexively with how data is generated, circulated, stored, analyzed and consumed. We will guide students in this endeavor by adopting a social scientific approach, focused on analyzing, interpreting, and understanding the meaning of contemporary data practices in organizations, society and government. At the same time, the course will also feature legal and ethical perspectives on data and data protection, focusing particularly on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This will equip students to connect contemporary legal and ethical concerns with wider political and technical contexts.
There are no formal prerequisites for being admitted to the course.
Intended learning outcomes
After the course, the student should be able to:
- Describe the ways in which data is conceptualized within the course literature
- Situate and contextualize data in its historical, ethical, technical, legal and political contexts
- Develop a case study that generates empirical material on a contemporary data controversy
- Analyze the data controversy through selected perspectives from the course.
- Discuss and critically reflect upon the ethical and/or legal dimensions of this data controversy.
The course consists of 14 weeks of lectures and exercises. The lectures will primarily focus on presenting and discussing various social scientific approaches to data. During the exercises you will work in groups on the themes brought up in the lecture. Here you will carry out small case studies, training your analytical skills, ability to collaborate, give oral presentations and give constructive feedback.
The course literature is published in the course page in LearnIT.
Student Activity BudgetEstimated distribution of learning activities for the typical student
- Preparation for lectures and exercises: 30%
- Lectures: 20%
- Exercises: 25%
- Project work, supervision included: 10%
- Exam with preparation: 15%
Ordinary examExam type:
C: Submission of written work, Internal (7-point scale)
C1G: Submission of written work for groups
The final examination project is a written academic paper (12 pages) on a selected case study.
The paper can be written either individually or in groups (2 pages added per group member).
Group and individual