2015 - Internet Governance, Civil Society and Communication Policy Advocacy

Academic Program: CEU Summer University 2015

Course Directors:

Susan Abbott 
Cross-Pollinate Consulting Solutions, Denver, CO, USA

Kate Coyer
Center for Media, Data and Society, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Course Faculty

Renata Avila 
Web We Want

Joan Barata
OSCE, Vienna, Austria

Elery Biddle
Global Voices Advocacy

Marius Dragomir
Open Society Foundations, Independent Journalism, London, UK

Laurent Giacobino
Independent consultant

Sam Gregory
Witness, UK

Philip Howard
Center for Media, Data and Society, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Eric King
Privacy International, London, UK

Djordje Krivokapic
SHARE Foundation

Dunja Mijatovic
OSCE, Vienna, Austria

Attila Mong

Sameer Padania
Open Society Foundations, Media Programme, London, UK

Sejal Parmar
Department of Legal Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Gill Phillips
The Guardian, UK

Monroe Price
Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania / Center for Media, Data and Society, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Lisa Quinn
International Center for Policy Advocacy (ICPA), Potsdam, Germany

Eva Simon
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Budapest, Hungary

Eoin Young
International Center for Policy Advocacy (ICPA)m Potsdam, Germany

Course Coordinator:

Eva Bognar
Center for Media, Data and Society, Central European University, Hungary

If the future of the internet is to be that of a free and open platform, civil society must be at the forefront of internet policy making. But communication policy can be overwhelmed by complex technical protocol, corporate interests, and a lack of civil society capacity to take on communication policy advocacy. The development of the internet as a global, free and open resource stands at a perpetual crossroads. The dynamic and decentralized nature of the internet continually offers new avenues for open communication and free expression as well as new challenges and threats, including the role of commercial internet providers. For those working at the nexus of media, communication, development and technology, it has become essential to develop a better grasp of how to research the political economy of the internet, the impact of the role of corporate social media companies and internet intermediaries and and the nexus between companies, privacy, security and free expression.

The aim of this course is to help build that capacity and to provide civil society with necessary knowledge, advocacy training and digital tools to play a leading role in advancing internet freedom and communication rights, and to help human rights advocates and researchers gain knowledge of the issues around internet governance. For all the efforts that donors, agencies, governments, and NGOs put into understanding how to use communications and media for the social good, more needs to be done to critically examine the communication dynamics that are at play when it comes to the role of commercial internet providers and social media companies. This course will overview of the current state of play surrounding internet governance, freedom of expression norms, and the relationship between the policies of internet companies, surveillance, and content take down and data requests by governments. The course aims to bring together internet policy experts, civil society strategists, and security and international relations specialists as well as freedom of expression experts both seeking to understand freedom of expression norms and internet freedom experts seeking to understand both how activists engage online as well as how online extremists have adapted to the digital age and use online and mobile communications to advance their mission, gain a popular following, and insert their agendas into mainstream discourse. 

Sessions will feature a mix of lectures, group discussions, hands-on practicums, as well as two field trips within Budapest to meet with organizations engaged with work in this field. The course will be organized thematically across each day, building from macro issues and broad conceptual overviews, to specific target topics and case studies, including introduction to different research methods and technologies. The teaching style will be interactive and participatory. Participants will come away with a deeper understanding of key literature, scholars, networks, and research projects that are going on in the field of internet governance and intermediary liability, which will be of use to them in their scholarship and applied work back home.