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Reflection and Responsibility - Berlin Ethics Certificate

Lupe

As our society plunges full speed into the future, interacting with rapid and radical technological change, dealing with ethics and figuring out how to shape responsible innovation is becoming an urgent matter. In our era of shared virtual environments, ‘next-generation’ smart technology, and machine intelligence that approximates the brain’s infrastructure, we are surrounded by tools that give us new ways to investigate and interrogate ideas around nature, culture, perception, and our very notion of the human. But how can we ensure our knowledge is reliable when digital artifacts frame the possibility to know?

 

While we grapple with the epistemic effects of innovation, complex ethical issues arise. As automated propaganda pervades our networks and health and biology become the latest facets of human behavior to be subsumed under capital, efforts at (self-)regulation are largely failing to intervene in AI-backed regimes of corporate and state power. How can we develop future technology in a way that respects our shared stake in its effects? How can we implement strategies that ensure emerging technologies do not reproduce a history of colonial relations inherited through datasets and system logics? Can we use ethical deliberation to seek health and balance not only for our generation, but for also future generations and for the land? In light of the multiple planetary-scale crises we face, what are our visions for a good future and how can we ensure that technological developments are in line with corresponding values? 

 

Students who wish to earn the certificate can register here.


You would like to receive news about the Berlin Ethics Certificate? You still have general questions? Then register in the Isis course and use our forum: https://isis.tu-berlin.de/course/search.php?search=Berliner+Ethik+zertifikat

 

 

 

 

Purpose

AI’s integration with (and transformation of) social, cultural, economic, logistical, environmental, and knowledge production systems poses complex ethical challenges that call for new interdisciplinary approaches to education. The newly established Berlin Ethics Certificate at the TU Berlin is an inter- and transdisciplinary certification program that offers you the chance to gain a specialization in ethics within your own course of study. The program understands ethics not as a tick-box exercise, but as a discipline and practice that seeks to dig deeper into the assumptions behind scientific and technological practice; strengthen responsibilities and self-reflection among us creators and thinkers; broaden the scope of action around technological development; and ultimately bring about a better world. By offering a highly interdisciplinary and participatory learning environment, the program aims to bridge the gap between discourses in the humanities, science and engineering and build an active community around ethics and technology. The idea is that through collaborative project-based work, you can collectively learn how to reflect upon ethical and social issues related to science and technology, and combine your disciplinary skills to figure out how to best address them.

 

 

Structure

Lupe

The Berlin Ethics Certificate is awarded by the president of the TU Berlin and is offered to bachelor and master students in all fields of study. The program is offered in both German and English, and does not require prior knowledge in ethics or philosophy. It is divided into a basic and advanced certificate and can be acquired during the entire course of study (bachelor/master only, or spread over both). After completing the Basic Certificate, you then have the option to complete the Advanced Certificate. The Basic Certificate consists of three modules worth 18 credit points in total; the Advanced Certificate consists of two modules worth 12 credit points in total (see graphic). The certificate can be acquired via electives within your regular course of study, meaning you don’t need to do additional credits. It is also possible to receive retroactive credit for completed modules that were acquired within your current study program. 

 

And here in more detail: 

 

To be awarded the Basic Certificate (18 ECTS) the following criteria have to be met:

- Completion of the 6 ECTS compulsory “Reflection and Responsibility - Berlin Ethics Certificate Foundational Module”

 > this module provides you with the necessary foundation of concepts and approaches 

at the intersections of ethics, science, technology and interdisciplinary studies. It is 

offered as an integrated course comprised of interactive project-based seminars, events, an excursion, and a final exhibition. 

 

- Completion of the 6 ECTS module “Ethics and Societal Responsibility”

 > this module functions as a ‘module sleeve’ (‘Modulhülse’), meaning the credit points 

can be achieved by completing any course(s) that offer(s) the appropriate content and 

competencies. Whether a specific course can be accredited within this modular sleeve is 

decided upon each semester by the coordinators of the Berlin Ethics Certificate. 

 

- Completion of the 6 ECTS module “Theory and Methods of Science”

 > this module functions as a ‘module sleeve’ (‘Modulhülse’), meaning the credit points 

can be achieved by completing any course(s) that offer(s) the appropriate content and 

competencies. Whether a specific course can be accredited within this modular sleeve is 

decided upon each semester by the coordinators of the Berlin Ethics Certificate.

 

After completing the Basic Module, you then have the option to complete the Advanced Module (12 ECTS), which requires you to meet the following criteria:

 

- Completion of the 6 ECTS module “Ethical Technology Assessment” 

 > this module functions as a ‘module sleeve’ (‘Modulhülse’), meaning the credit points 

can be achieved by completing any course(s) that offer(s) the appropriate content and 

competencies. Whether a course can be accredited within this modular sleeve is 

decided upon each semester by the coordinators of the Berlin Ethics Certificate.

 

- Completion of Bachelor’s/Master’s Thesis with specialization in a topic related to technology ethics/theory and methods of science (6 ECTS)

 

 

In terms of content, the modules focus on the interdependence between society, technology, and science, and explore concepts and discourses in overlapping fields of technology ethics, technology assessment, philosophy and history of science/technology, and sociological studies of science/technology. In many of the offered courses, you are required to develop case studies in order to critically reflect on possible consequences of real technical innovations with high societal relevance and explore ways of operationalizing ethical solutions. Practical knowledge surrounding applied ethics and responsible innovation is supplemented with the theoretical underpinnings of knowledge dynamics and critical theoretical perspectives on science and technology. A list of recommended courses is published [on the Berlin Ethics Certificate website] at the beginning of each semester. 

 

 

What you gain

The Berlin Ethics Certificate allows you to gain key qualifications for orienting your own disciplinary practice toward shaping responsible futures. These skills include the ability to apply ethical thinking in concrete contexts of research and development, communicate ethical issues, and think through alternative perspectives—competencies which are becoming increasingly important in both academic and non-academic professional fields. As a participant of the program, you will be part of a community of students and teachers rich in diversity and skills, and thus provided with a space to talk freely and informally about issues and possible solutions. You will also gain access to a larger transdisciplinary network of partner universities and non-academic groups, a community fostered by the coordinators of the Berlin Ethics Certificate, the Present Futures Forum and the Berlin Ethics Lab. As part of this transdisciplinary network, you will have the opportunity to take part in a range of community events/workshops, engage in knowledge exchange, and contribute to a larger effort to make moves toward ethical and socially responsible goals beyond the university.  

 

 

Profiles

Students can choose a profile on a voluntary basis in order to set an individual thematic focus within the Berlin Ethics Certificate program. Modules that can be accredited in the profile are listed in the course catalog of the Berlin Ethics Certificate each semester before the start of classes. Possible profiles are listed below.

 

 

Ethics of AI

The development and use of artificial intelligence in an ever-increasing range of societal spheres represents many opportunities, but also risks. AI raises novel questions about data protection, (legal) responsibility, the reliability of knowledge, regulation and discrimination, among many others. Therefore, ethical reflection and methodologies are needed to steer AI toward responsible and sustainable futures. In the Ethics of AI profile, students address the societal and ethical challenges posed by AI.

 

If you would like to choose the Ethics of AI profile, please indicate this when you register for the Berlin Ethics Certificate. If you are already registered and would like to choose the profile, please contact s.freund@tu-berlin.de.

 

Further profiles are planned and will appear here as soon as they are available.

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