News and information consumption has profoundly changed through the increasing digitalization of our media environment. Instead of following the news on TV at 8 pm in our home or reading the paper in the morning at the breakfast table, nowadays we are able to take in current news and information everywhere and at any given time through social media channels. This fosters the perception of being well-informed. But how much do we actually know about political events at the end of the day? This seminar will focus on political knowledge in digital media societies, taking into account different modes of reception (incidental and intentional news exposure) and practices (reading, sharing, commenting), as well as phenomena of algorithmic and social selection of news and information use. Expanding on the current state of research we will analyse and debate questions of political knowledge within digital media societies. The seminar is held by Interim Professor Sarah Geber.
The internet, at least theoretically, facilitates unprecedented possibilities for science communication – through science journalism, academic public relations, or through forums for (partially contested) science topics and blogs by individual scientists – allowing “enough space” for the public to participate in every discussion. Against this backdrop we will have a general introduction into science communication, after which we take inventory of “science in the web”. We will look for changes in science communication and public communication about science (including scientific desinformation) and discuss potential impacts on the relationship between science and society. The seminar is held by Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring.
The term “surveillance” refers to the collection and processing of personal data to be used for planning, controlling or behavior management. With the wide-ranging digitalization of communication this phenomenon gained new social relevance. Every online activity leads, to different degrees, to the collection and storage of individual traces, which can be linked up to predict future (individual) behavior. While surveillance used to be discussed in terms of state control (and public care), today commercial forms of surveillance and their risks for free societies and individual rights, e.g. the right to privacy, are at the center of attention.
In this seminar we aim to clarify central concepts, to take stock of the phenomenon “surveillance” and we debate how to evaluate the effects for individuals and society at large. Towards the end of the seminar we will discuss potential ideas for research, which can be carried out in the correspondent project seminar of the following two semesters. The seminar is held by Prof. Matthias Kohring.
After a phase of euphoric expectations regarding the renewal of democracies through internet communication, today scepticism prevails: Buzz words like Hate Speech, Fake News and Polarization feed doubts whether online communication can actually contribute to plural, respectful and fair public debate at all. This seminar first takes stock of what we already know about the democratic qualities of online debates – in comment sections on news websites, on Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp. We will then assess different possible solutions: How can individual user interventions, media regulations, or improved software solutions, respectively, contribute to increasing the quality of public discourse? The seminar is held by Prof. Hartmut Wessler.
Distrust has always played a minor role in the field of trust research. Recently, however, more attention has been paid to this concept – especially as regards politics and the media. It has become apparent, however, that the term is being interpreted and assessed differently. In the course of the seminar, students learn what distrust means and why this concept can be useful in addition to the concept of trust (or lack of trust). The title of the seminar is supposed to draw attention to the fact that, on the one hand, people tend to have less and less trust in the news and, on the other hand, that the news themselves can convey distrust to other areas of society. The seminar is held by Prof. Matthias Kohring and Prof. Angela Keppler.
In the course of this specialization seminar, students address the question of who reads what kinds of contents today (newspapers on the one hand and fiction on the other hand) as well as how thoroughly and why we read them. The aim of the seminar is to assess the current situation as well as changes compared to analog reading and to provide possible explanations for these changes. The seminar is held by Prof. Peter Vorderer.