Track A | Digital Communication, Policy and Innovation in Europe

Track A: Digital Communication, Policy and Innovation in Europe (VUB)

Module 3A: Specialization Module

EU Media and Communication Policy

This course follows an interactive and case study approach, focusing on several aspects of the EU policy initiatives in the media and communications related sector. The central question addressed is how the European Institutions are shaping policies for cultural diversity and freedom of expression.

The following topics are on the agenda:

  • Introduction and aim of the course
  • Getting the terms and concepts clear
  • Theories on EU policymaking

Three building blocks are then explored via case studies:

  • Institutions and their interinstitutional dialectics: can the EU create cultural diversity in (between) UNESCO & WTO
  • Can the EU create cultural diversity through Public Service Broadcasting and application of EU State Aid rules?
  • Can the EU create cultural diversity through national film subsidies and/or EU regulations and support schemes?

Lecture Series on European Information Society

Pending updates       

Summer Symposium II (incl. thesis outline)

The Summer Symposium is the yearly event held in Salzburg, in which the student attend a variety of different workshops and other activities. In their second participation, students have to present the concept of their master thesis to peer students and faculty members.

Module 4A: Competency Tracks   

Seminar 1: European Innovation Policy/Users and Innovation in Digital Media (“Digital Innovation Leadership”)

European Innovation Policy

The course will deal with the relationship between innovation and society, European Research and Innovation policies and strategies, the use of forward looking activities for policy as well as case studies based on the fields of ICT, biotech or health. We expect active participation from students in class who will work on the most recent documents the European Commission made available. Students will be asked to prepare their own presentation and contribution.

Users and Innovation in New Media

People as users of new media and communication technologies have since long been acknowledged as central stakeholders in the European information society. We therefore focus on the interplay between changes and design of media and technologies on the one hand and transitions in the way consumers and citizens in Europe adopt and use new media in their everyday life on the other hand. This generates a deeper understanding in the why, what and how of interdisciplinary user research in the new media field. First the course discusses the relevance of user research in the field of new media. This is framed within a broader understanding of theoretical traditions of user studies from an interdisciplinary perspective. We then sketch how users configure ICT as well as how ICT also configure user practices. Next we map out the ways that user types are differentiated in the scientific literature and business practice. Finally, we link this up with the different ways that user innovativeness is captured. All this is illustrated by a number of concrete case studies in new media industry and practice.

Module 3A: Specialization Module

Advanced Theoretical Debates: New Media and Society in Europe

Early theories on the information society already appeared in the 50 and 60s in the work of Machlup and Porat. These theories were mainly based on the growing role of informational work in society. A milestone in information society thinking was the seminal work of Daniël Bell on post-industrial society in 1973. However, it is only since the 1990s, with the rise of the Internet, mobile phones and the widespread introduction of ICTs, that concepts of the information society became part of common parlance and theories of the information society gained mainstream academic attention. The work of Castells has certainly played an important role in this. Content wise modern concepts of the information society focus more on the role of technology, knowledge, R&D and innovation in the social and economic structuring of society. This course introduces students to different strands of thinking within the field and combines this with a historical genealogy of the field. The course focuses on a critical engagement with the subject, it therefore also focuses on alternative and more critical conceptualizations of our current society as a surveillance society or a culture of speed and its negative consequences.  This course focuses on the joint reading and discussion of original texts. It expects active participation of students.

Internet Censorship, Control and Governance

In 1996 John Barlow wrote his famous Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace. The Internet would not be governed by governments or the industry, it would be governed by the Internet Community itself. That ideal seems a far way of now. Critical internet resources are managed by ICANN, but it’s legitimacy is still being challenged. Governments do regulate and control the internet in different fields. This course introduces students to Internet Governance. It focuses on the international debates on Internet Governance. It gives an overview of governments practices of controlling and regulating the internet. It discusses central themes such as human rights and the internet, censorship and repression, the democratic potential of the Internet, copyright and infringement, etc.

Seminar 2: Critical Issues in Media Economics/European Media and Communication Markets (“Critical Economic Issues in the European Digital Single Market”)

Critical Issues in Media Economics

This course will treat a number of current issues that are critical for the domain of New Media in Europe. They will be studied from a political economy point of view. The issues relate e.g. to Innovation and Diversity in Media, Advertising and Privacy, Competition and Bottlenecks in New Media Markets, Future Networks for New Media and Net Neutrality.

European Media and Communication Markets

This course provides an overview of European media markets. It provides an insight in the characteristics of media and communication goods and services; main revenue streams and main players; and new media trends. Topical issues/cases related to European media and communication markets, diverging interests of different players and strength/weaknesses/opportunities and threats receive special attention. The course relies in part on preparatory work of students, in particular on topical cases assigned to each student.