Our society is being digitalized at an unstoppable rate, which is presenting us with new challenges. An increasing amount of data are being recorded with new sensors and AI systems. This digitalization process lets us measure individual, organizational, and societal behavior with unprecedented resolution and very high precision. The availability of these new data forms requires individuals, organizations, and society to grapple with the effects of digitalization in our everyday lives, social systems, and the larger society.
This development offers great economic and social opportunities on the one hand, yet also poses a multitude of problems for society – making it necessary to continuously develop our understanding of complex social and digital systems. It raises questions of the responsible usage of personal data, the control of data, the development of a comprehensive data ethic, the social responsibility for data and algorithms, and our trust in so-called computational social systems.
Computational social systems are systems in which social and societal processes, procedures, and functions are digitally reproduced and formed through the dynamic interaction of algorithms and social behavior. The Master course of study Computational Social Systems at RWTH focuses on this area – a unique program in this specialization in Germany.
This interdisciplinary course of study features the areas of IT, social sciences, psychology, cognitive sciences, and ethics. It trains you in algorithms, data structures, and methods of automatic data processing, and also in theories of social interactions in technological contexts and ethical problems. This gives you a deep understanding of the development of technically integrated social systems, and the challenges for individuals and society and the ethical consequences this may have. This interdisciplinary approach is reflected in the diverse student body.
If you come from an IT background, you will learn to implement your technical skills in order to critically measure, reflect, and shape the effects of digitalization on individuals, organizations, and the larger society.
If you come from a social sciences or cognitive sciences background, you will acquire programming and data science skills, and be able to analyze social data and critically evaluate their relevance for individuals, organizations, and society.
Starting in the first semester, the basic courses give you a theoretical foundation in the areas of IT, psychology, ethics, and reflection. You will further enhance and develop your skills with additional advanced courses. You may choose from one of two specializations in this course of study:
In your third semester, you will take advanced courses alongside a Master project, which can either be a solo endeavor or an interdisciplinary group work. Finally, in your fourth semester, you will work on and submit your Master's thesis.
As a graduate of Computational Social Systems, you will be able to solve issues relating to the production and usage of data in individual, organizational, and societal contexts using data methods. You will also be able to systematically reflect on social and ethical issues.
Thanks to your in-depth knowledge of programming and your theoretical background, you will be able to use data masses to explore new fields of application for social and cognitive theories. You will also be able to analyze related normative issues and work on solutions to these. The job market is responding to this ever increasing digitalized world with a growing number of interesting positions for this type of work.
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