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Digital Ethics Certificate Programme: Trustworthy Conduct in the Online Environment

2022-06-15 How can one deal ethically with digital technologies? At present, it is becoming increasingly important for the success of a digital company that its digital strategy can be trusted. The certificate programme "Digital Ethics" will start for the first time in October 2022 at the Professional School.

"Most of the time we behave morally, but in the field of digital technologies it gets fuzzy," explains programme director Dr Nicolas Dierks. ©Leuphana
"Most of the time we behave morally, but in the field of digital technologies it gets fuzzy," explains programme director Dr Nicolas Dierks.

"The upcoming EU regulations will catch many companies cold," says programme director Dr Nicolas Dierks. The EU Parliament recently agreed on the Digital Market Act and the Digital Services Act, an addition to existing competition law. Among other things, this act will limit the power of dominant digital companies, for example Amazon. Furthermore, a code of conduct will apply to large digital companies to create a safe and trustworthy digital space.

Therefore, it is already important for companies to ensure a good relationship with customers, employees, and business partners in the online environment - also when dealing with data, artificial intelligence, and digital design. The public is also becoming increasingly sensitive to this topic. The trustworthy use of digital technologies will be a mega-trend in the coming years.

"Most of the time we behave morally, but in the field of digital technologies it gets fuzzy," explains Dierks. The digital space holds new challenges. Therefore, a sharpened sense of judgement and new, resilient definitions of terms are needed to understand the challenges and respond to them appropriately. For example, it is important to clarify how so-called "dark patterns", which are used to manipulate users into making purchases online, will be dealt with in the future. "Such things can restrict the legitimate freedom of choice of users," says Dierks, "but in companies it is often the case that those who implement the technical aspects have little connection to the management level, where the values are anchored.” This creates a communication gap.

Participants in the part-time certificate programme are prepared for these questions and trends. The programme consists of two semesters and focuses on the training of ethical judgement, creates an overview of the fields of application of ethical questions and addresses how the digital transformation in organisations can take place ethically.

"Workers who can bridge the communication gap between strategy and technological implementation in questions of ethics are very valuable for companies," says Dierks. The programme is therefore especially suitable for executives and for employees from digital-technical fields who want to train for leadership positions.