March 29, 2021

Digital self-determination cohort

The Digital Asia Hub and Berkman Klein Center are launching a Spring 2021 “Research Sprint” this week with a global cohort of 25 students participating from 21 different countries spread over 6 continents, in collaboration with the Global Network of Internet & Society Centers (NoC). It brings together collaborators from the two co-hosting organizations and their global partners to explore the evolving normative concept of digital self-determination as an enabler of—or at least contributor—to the exercise of autonomy and agency in the face of shrinking choices in a world that is increasingly constructed, mediated and at times even dominated by digital technologies and digital media, including the underlying infrastructures, questions of control, power and equity become more critical.

DAH Research Sprint Collage

The Research Sprint will examine how the notion of digital self-determination is invoked as a term to describe the possibility and realization of human flourishing as it relates to the use of digital technologies and their affordances. While questions of control over personal data will be a cross-cutting theme throughout the Sprint, other important dimensions of self-determination in the digitally networked will be examined as well, for instance with regard to self-expression and participation in civic life and the digital economy, or relationship-building and well-being, to name just a few application areas.

Participants will work collaboratively with peers and experts from around the globe to produce a living repository that highlights the personal, social, cultural, and technical contexts that includes readings, case studies, examples, and narratives that together provide a thick description of the evolving notion of digital self-determination and its normative context. The outputs will be open access and also serve as a resource for an emerging thematic network on digital self-determination led by the Directorate of International Law at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Office for Communications of the Swiss Federal Department of Environment Transport, Energy and Communications.

The Sprint follows earlier efforts, including BKC’s Fall 2020 Sprint on COVID-19 and Access to Education and Learning Spaces, and contributes to the NoC’s Ethics of Digitalisation initiative under the patronage of the German Federal President and with support by Stiftung Mercator. The Research Sprint is one program out of many that the Berkman Klein Center hosts to engage and train students as co-designers and leaders exploring the impact of digital technologies. Other programs at the Center that also embody our interdisciplinary educational efforts include Assembly, Summer Institute, and the Youth and Media Project.

About the Ethics of Digitalization Project
Led by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), the Berkman Klein Center, and the Digital Asia Hub, and in collaboration with the Global Network of Internet & Society Centers (NoC), the ”The Ethics of Digitalisation: From Principles to Practice” project advances dialogue and action at the intersection of science, politics, digital economy, and civil society.