Data Ethics Outreach Lab 2022

Study project and interdisciplinary course for CogSci M.Sc and Lehramt students

University of Osnabrück, Summer Term 2022 & Winter Term 2022/23

Wednesdays 9–12, room: 50/E07 (Institute of Cognitive Sciene, Wachsbleiche). Starting 13 April, 2022

Prof. Dr. Rainer Mühlhoff, Nora Lindemann, Paul Schütze, Jan Siebold and Annemarie Witschas

Course description

Why does the data collected by Instagram or YouTube lead to social inequality? How do Snapchat, TikTok and Co. (re)structure social relationships and restrict the identity performances available to young people online? What does PayPal do with all the data they collect from payment transactions? Why do chat bots perpetuate stereotypical gender norms? And how does riding a bus without a ticket relate to being denied a loan?

These questions represent only a handful of possible vantage points from which to explore and critically reflect on key issues in the field of digital consumer culture. Many of these issues relate to big data and AI services we use every day. In most cases, users are not aware that these services have harmful effects on our societies, democracies and well-being.

Within this study project we will discuss the risks and societal implications of networked digital services to develop strategies and formats for public awareness raising. Participants will form small teams to choose their own topics – along the technologies and issues they perceive most pressing. There is also a wide range of possible outreach formats that teams can choose from: Developing and testing Open Educational Resources for school lessons with high school students; organising workshop (Lehrer:innen-Fortbildung) for school teachers in autumn; recording explainer videos to circulate on the web; creating public websites, social media channels and other public interventions.

As part of the course, students will be introduced to relevant knowledge on the topics of data protection, fairness, social inequality, anti-discrimination and critical theory. Putting theory into practice, the course will apply this knowledge to tangible problems from the life-worlds of young internet users.


This is an interdisciplinary course that aims to bring together students from M.Sc. Cognitive Science and from relevant didactic fields (Lehramt, including KCL and Master Didaktik der Informatik). Accordingly, the course can be accredited for a range of degree programs and modules at the University of Osnabrück:

  • M.Sc. students at the Institute of Cognitive Science at UOS can take the course as a Study Project (2 semesters starting SoSe 2022, 6 hrs/week, 12 ECTS points).
  • M.Sc. students at the Institute of Cognitive Science at UOS can take the course as an Interdisciplinary Course (1 semester, either SoSe 2022 or WiSe 2022/23, 4 hrs/week, 6 ECTS points).
  • Master students of Lehramt can take the course as part of the KCL module “Medienbildung und Mediensozialisation” (1 semester, either SoSe 2022 or WiSe 2022/23, 4 hrs/week, 4–6 ECTS points). We have 10 places for Lehramt students.
  • We also have limited places for students from other disciplines and other institutions. Please contact us in this case.


Plenum sessions and seminar readings will be in English to also include international participants. However, the course will largely work in small project groups which can also work in German (especially if you want to develop teaching material for German schools). Students who do not reside in Osnabrück can also participate online (hybrid course), although it is practical for project teams to work either entirely in person or online.

Getting in touch

There will be an orientation session in the first session of the semester (Wednesday, 13 April 2022, 9:15 am), in which we will introduce the project in more detail and where you can ask questions. If you have questions now, please send an email to outreachlab .::at: