Category Teaching

Syllabus: Digital Media in Politics

Later this week starts my course on the role of Digital Media in Politics at the Department of Political Science at the University of Zurich. The course aims to give an overview of various debates on different uses and effects digital media have had in politics:

The course examines the impact of digital media on politics in international comparison. Digital media play an increasingly important role in politics. Be it political communication, the coverage of politics in the news, campaigning, public discourse, or collective action, various political fields are changing due to digital media. This makes it paramount to identify, assess, and understand the role of digital media in politics. Over the course, students will be introduced to important approaches in conceptualizing and measuring the effects of digital media on politics. In this, we will focus on the role of digital media in helping political actors fulfill specific tasks in their work, such as gaining representation in the political information space, reaching people, convincing and mobilizing people, coordination, organizing, and measuring and evaluating the impact of their actions.

In the course we will talk about:

  • Media systems,
  • Publics and counterpublics,
  • Polarization,
  • Election campaigns,
  • Political participation and collective action,
  • Data-driven campaigning,
  • Modes of control,
  • Disinformation and manipulation, and
  • Platforms as political actors.


Course Material: Summer Semester 2018

Spring is sadly taking its time but the summer semester starts rolling into sight. This summer, I will be teaching two courses at the University of Konstanz. The first is an introductory course to political psychology. The second is a methods course on how to use digital trace data in the social sciences illustrated by working with Twitter data. If you are interested in taking the courses have a look at the course material:

The Impact of Technology on Political Communication: The Printing Press, Newspapers, Television, and the Internet (Syllabus, Konstanz 2017)

Another spring, another spring semester! Once again, I am very happy to be teaching a topic very close to my current work. This semester, I offer a course on the role of technological innovation for politics and political communication. The goal of the course is to introduce students to a theoretical toolkit allowing them to conceptualize and empirically analyze interlinked processes of technological innovation and political change.

In this, I see the course as part of the current development in the field of trying to take the exceptionalism out of research on political and social consequences of digital innovation. Here, much is to be gained by increasing the sophistication in the theoretical debate and the conceptualization of underlying phenomena, effects, and trends. At least in political science, this means extending the canon of commonly used theories. This is what we will attempt in this course.

Description: Changes in media technology have historically impacted political processes, structures, and patterns of political communication. Currently, we are living through one of these transitions in form of the digitalization. This makes it paramount to understand its likely impact on politics. During the course, students will be introduced to central approaches in conceptualizing and measuring the effects of technological change on politics. In the first part of the course, we will focus on conceptualizing the relationship between technology, communication, and politics. Following this, we will focus on specific technologies and their relationship with politics. In the last section of the course, we will discuss the use of digital technology in specific areas of politics.

Syllabus: The Impact of Technology on Political Communication: The Printing Press, Newspapers, Television, and the Internet

Syllabus: Conceptualizing and Measuring Effects of Political Communication in International Comparison

This upcoming semester in Konstanz, I will be taking my political communication course for another spin. In Konstanz, I will focus the course more strongly on the conceptual and comparative aspects of political communication research. Also, I slightly redesigned the syllabus to account for some of the current concerns in the field.

The course starts with introducing students to central issues of comparative research and conceptualization. Following this, we will discuss central ideas on how and why people are using media. Here, we will focus on the uses & gratifications approach, selective exposure and potentially resulting political polarization, and the two step flow of communication and opinion leaders. Building on this, we will discuss a small selection of central models of potential communication effects. Here we will focus on agenda setting, framing effects, cultivation, and the spiral of silence. The course will close with a discussion of a small selection of prominent research areas of political communication research: media frames, the connection between media systems and political knowledge, election campaigns, and mobilization and persuasion.

Let me know if you feel I am missing something!