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Honoursmodule: Towards Digital Freedom

Honoursmodule: Towards Digital Freedom

In this interdisciplinary course you will relate your personal concerns about digital dependencies to larger social patterns and theories about digital politics. Through literature study, group discussions, field trips, hands-on experimentation and a self-selected case study, you explore what digital freedom means to you and what it can mean for society at large.


A.D. Zandbergen & Z. Kripe

Learning objectives:

After this module, students are able to:

  • Engage in empirically, historically and theoretically informed discussions about the politics of the digital;
  • Apply conceptual tools, basic technological expertise and critical awareness to come to terms with a fast-changing and unequal digital world;
  • Explain key theories and approaches in the field of digital politics and apply these across different digital contexts and settings;
  • Reflect on their own personal digital practices and to identify how and when these practices restrain or enable their own physical and mental well-being;
  • Use philosophical perspectives for the differentiation of different interpretations of “digital freedom”;
  • Creatively use art, literature, hands-on practice and experimental self-exploration to further their capacity to envision and realize alternative digital futures;


For almost every small or large thing that matters to us, we rely on digital tools to help us. They give us access to a world of jobs, romance, friendship and material goods. Yet, one could say there is a flip-side to our collective attachment to the digital. Many feel that our physical and mental well-being suffers from permanent exposure to large amounts of information and from the constant pressure of having to perform and inform ourselves digitally. Also opinion-makers across the world have argued how group profiling, filter-bubbles, fake-news and behavioral nudging impact democratic values negatively.

Yet, even if we acknowledge the exploitative, anti-democratic and health-depriving aspects of our digital lives, our busy and demanding schedules require an ongoing engagement with the digital. We feel we can’t simply disconnect ourselves from what is most important to us. And even if we know theoretically what digital freedom means to us, we feel little power to make this tangible within our own lives. Our relationship to the digital, in other words, is unfree. 

This course seeks to move towards “digital freedom” by exploring how to make our individual and collective engagement with the digital more conscious, relaxed and playful. The course offers basic technological understanding of digital infrastructures, insight into the key ethical, political, social and psychological issues that are at stake in their functioning, and a way of approaching these issues in a creative, hands-on and open-minded way. This will add to students’ personal sense of well-being, but also offers opportunities for those who like to build a career on these insights. 

Teaching format:

  •  Lecture
  •  Seminar
  •  (Computer)practicum
  •  Fieldwork / excursion
  •  Presentation / symposium
  •  Selfstudie
  •  Work independently on project/ thesis
  •  Guidance / feedback moment
  • Hands-on excercises and experiments
  • Group discussions


  1. Active participation in weekly student-led discussions that involve critical evaluation of the literature: 20% of final grade
  2. Active participation in weekly practical hands on exercises: 40% of final grade
  3. Active participation in and completion of ‘Hacking Digital Society’ project: 40% of final grade

Study material:

Academic articles, book chapters, opinion pieces and newspaper articles which will be made available through Canvas at the beginning of the module.

Number of participants:

Max. 25

Recommended prior knowledge:

The course will be relevant to techno-optimists as well as techno-sceptics and is accessible to students with as well as without prior technical knowledge.

The most important requirement is that you bring your curiosity and a willingness to relate your everyday digital experiences to overarching political, sociological and technological questions.


  • Start Sept-Dec / Tuesdays 19-21h / Location go to Datanose


Registration is possible for 2nd year (of higher) students participating in an Honours programme from 7 June 2018 10.00 till 11 June 2018 23.00 through the online registration form that will appear on Honoursmodules IIS.

Placement will be at random. If there are still spots open after the application deadline, students will still be able to register.

Honoursmodule: Towards Digital Freedom
Vorm Honoursonderwijs
Studielast 6 EC,
Voertaal Engels
Start September