Why this program?
Understanding the impact of social media on democracies:
digital media has transformed the way we communicate, interact, and consume information, including political discourse. Social media technology is still young, but it has already played a crucial part in numerous turbulent protests and highly polarized elections in the United States and elsewhere. In this program, participants will explore the importance of social media for democracy, focusing in particular on how data science methods can help analyze data automatically collected from social media platforms.
Combination of evidence-based and practical knowledge about data science in political communication:
The course is unique in examining, in an evidence-based and practical way, the role of social media data to understand different critical social and political processes.
These include the enriching of individual political participation, changing collective action organization in civil society and social movements such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, transforming electoral campaigns via micro-targeting, and reshaping journalistic practices and political communication in general.
The program also invites participants to explore how social media data and associated methods are used to challenge democracy through, for example, the analysis of populist actors and authoritarian regimes. Topics assessing these developments include the normalization of trolling and uncivil communication, the proliferation of misinformation and fake news, the use of social media analytics for distraction, as well as the rise of filter bubbles and echo chambers and their contribution to political polarization.
Participants can apply what they learn directly to their daily job:
The combination of academic and practical input will enable participants to face the changing political information environment. The theoretical and practical knowledge gained in the program can be directly applied in the job market. The introduction to the programming language R enables participants to easily analyze data from social media platforms.
Learn from academic & practical experts and broaden your professional network:
Prof. Dr. phil. Yannis Theocharis is an expert on political behavior with a focus on how digital media impacts political participation, communication, governance and uncivil behavior in online spaces. Participants will benefit from his deep experience in executive education. The program also provides a diverse learning environment by complementing scientific experts with leading voices from corporate partners and industry. Participants will learn from one another and have the opportunity to broaden their network.
This program is also open to students from a range of European universities. The combination of working professionals and students does not only allow for the topic to be viewed from different perspectives but also enriches the program with an international perspective.
Module 1: Data science and the social scientific perspective (online sessions)
- Benefits & pitfalls of data science in the study of social media & democracy and beyond
- Understanding Data Science I: Introduction to R
- Understanding Data Science II: Creating effective visualizations
Module 2: How does social media empower democracy? (on campus)
- Social media-based political participation: What is it, why does it matter and what can social media data tell us about it
- Session 2: Elections: Understanding the role of data in electoral campaigns: A longitudinal perspective with a focus on data science applications
- Session 3: Collective action 2.0: Has social media transformed collective action and social movements? Theory and data science
- Keynote (external guest)
Module 3: How does social media undermine democracy? (on campus)
- Political polarization: Using data science methods to assess the fragmentation of public debates through echo chambers and filter bubbles
- Misinformation and disinformation: How do data science methods help us understand its impact on democracies and non-democracies
- Incivility as the new plague of public conversation? How social media data help us understand the dynamics of online harassment and abuse
- Wrap-up session: Social media and democracy
Participants should have a basic understanding of social media platforms and how they function in their jobs. Knowledge of basic principles in social science research is advantageous but not required.
Do you work in the field of political communication or consultation, social media management, digital marketing, public administration? Are you a political journalist interested in net policy? Or are you an IT expert (hardware expert) who would like to gain social science perspectives on the impact of data driven platforms? Then this program might be a good fit for you!