Digital Technology & Social Change

Online course taught at the University of California

Official course enrollment at: &

All online lecture material is publicly available through

Official Course Website (incl. interactive lectures and accompanying readings)

Lecture Playlist (lecture videos only)

The two main concepts of the course are social change and technological change by digital means. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is not only an essential building block of a society, but currently also the driving force behind social development. Our generation has the luck to live through –and the responsibility to shape– an era in which mediated information and communication have become the catalyst of human progress. This course will deepen your understanding on how social and technological revolutions go hand in hand and how the digital revolution currently transforms society.

The course consists of 10 lessons. On average, each lesson consists of 1h 40min of online lectures.

Course Objectives. By the end of the course you will:

  • Be able to frame personal experiences and global trends of the digital age into a more formal theoretical framework about social- and technological change
  • Have a more structured understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and imminent threats of the digital age
  • Be able to articulate basic, but fundamental definitions of complex issues and dynamics that you encounter every day, such as technology, social progress, development, and digitization
  • Develop a basic appreciation of the complexities of social development, as well as the challenges that arise when intervening in social evolution (through public policy and private strategies), especially during times of fast-paced change
  • Gain insights into how authorities currently manage disruptive and problematic dynamics of digitally-driven social change



1st week– Introduction to the Digital Age: a dynamic interplay between technology, society and policy

2nd weekGlobal Digital Development: overview and state-of-the-art

3rd week– The nature of technological change and the theory of technological evolution: past trajectories and future visions of ICT.

4th weekSocial Evolution: long waves of human progress.

5th & 6th weekDigital Particularities: what happens to social processes when information and communication is being digitalized?

7th week– How digital means help us to understand society: e-Science. About Big Data and Agent-based computer simulations of artificial societies

8th weekGlobalization and Human Development. What is the global context of the digital age: What role does globalization play? What role does digitalization play in globalization?

9th week– The digital divide & the diffusion of innovations through social networks: origins, reality and outlook of a challenge far beyond access

10th weekPublic policies and private strategies for digital development: leapfrogging into the digital age