Spring 2023

Course Syllabus

New Media and Changing Communities

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:



Major Disciplines:

Communication, Media Studies, Social Entrepreneurship



Faculty Member:

Brendan Sweeney (current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays, 10.05-11.25 in V10-D11

How do new media facilitate or challenge collaboration and community building? The ambition of this course is to understand the historical and contemporary importance of media in creating communities and new forms of collaboration. We draw on European and US theories of communication to hone your critical media literacy and examine how both new and existing communities are imagined, constructed and represented in online media. You will also consider who may be excluded or missing from the social media landscape.

We will also question the popular contemporary belief that an increased use of the internet may decrease social contact and intimate relationships, and investigate the kinds of community and collaboration that are thriving thanks to to online culture. During the semester, you will be encouraged to reflect on and analyze differences in new media use in the United States, Europe and Scandinavia. 

The internet gives us the opportunity to search for information and entertainment, connect with friends and distant family, engage in new communities, share data, laugh and stay curious. On the other hand, internet content, and the activities people engage in online, may challenge norms and expose behaviors and points of views we may not agree with, or find disturbing or problematic. This course also aims to sheds light on the dark side of the web.

During our week-long study tour, we will explore how new communities form around and utilize digital media. We will also learn about contemporary culture in Denmark and how new media encourages new forms of interactions and new practices in Danish society today.

Learning Objectives   

In this course, you will:

  1. Trace changes in both available media and theoretical frames to understand “media” 
  2. Explore, compare, and contrast Denmark, the US and other European countries as case studies for critical analysis of new media, communities and collaboration
  3. Reflect on the relationship between new media, collaboration and community in relation to specific contexts/examples, including your own experiences and hands-on activities
  4. Demonstrate mastery of course material and reflect on how it applies to your lived reality

Teaching Methods 

This course will be taught using a combination of methods. There is a strong emphasis on participation and class discussions and while I am responsible for the overall structure of the class, all of us will contribute to the production of knowledge. Although there are some lectures and guest lectures, the class will mainly be student driven through (small and large) group work and debates. 

Your own engagement with new media platforms play an important role and you are encouraged to reflect actively on the affordances/limitations of these forms of social media in relation to creating our own “community” as a class.

Overall, the aim is to create a classroom space characterized by respect and willingness to listen/consider others’ perspectives, where it is safe to explore ideas together and individually, even when they are not fully conceptualized or thought through. This requires a great amount of trust in each other and a willingness and curiosity to consider each other’s arguments.

Field Studies

  • Wednesday, 22 February: 8:30-12:30
  • Wednesday, 3 May: 13:00-17:00

Required Readings 

Course readings are found on Canvas. Before each class, you are expected to read the texts and watch the films/videos assigned for the class.

Canvas discussions

Before most classes you are required to post at least one entry to our Canvas discussions page. You are required to complete thoughtful canvas responses to readings, guest lectures, study tour visits, and field studies. Your instructor will provide you with more information. Please post relevant links, images, videos, texts, discussion questions etc.


**To be eligible for a passing grade in this class you must complete all of the assigned work**

Media production 40%
Participation and engagement 30%
Final project 30%
Total 100%

A word about grades 

I realize that grades are important to you, but try not to let your anxiety about grades deter you from taking intellectual risks and learning just for the joy of learning. I do not grade to punish or reward you just as my grade is not an indication of my evaluation of you as a person. I grade you to give you my honest assessment of your academic performance. 


Please note that this list may change during the semester

  • Chun & Keenan (2005) excerpt from “New Media, Old Media” 
  • Jeffries (2011) “Friedrich Kittler obituary”
  • Siapera (2011) McLuhan and Kittler excerpt from “Understanding New Media”
  • McLuhan (1964) excerpt from "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man"
  • IFTF (2015) “Human+Machine Futures forecasts map”
  • Matthew Flisfjeder (2021) excerpts from "Algorithmic Desire: Toward a New Structuralist Theory of Social Media." 
  • Lewis (2017) "'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia"
  • Tristan Harris (2017) "How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day" (
  • Kosinski et al. (2013) "Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior"
  • Cadwalladr (2018) Cambridge Analytica: "‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower"
  • Fagan (2018) "A viral video that appeared to show Obama calling Trump a 'dips---' shows a disturbing new trend called 'deepfakes'" 
  • Gupta (2020) "How to Handle a Crowd - The Art of Creating Healthy & Dynamic Online Communities"
  • Ruiz (2018) "Deepfakes are about to make revenge porn so much worse"
  • "Breaking News" (podcast by Radiolab, 2017)
  • Botsman (2017) "Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens"
  • Gary Liu (2018) "The rapid growth of the Chinese internet" (
  • Turkle (2015) excerpt from “Reclaiming Conversation”
  • Aral Balkan (2016) "Beyond The Clouds" and "Ethical Design and Democracy"
  • Tracy Chou (2017) "Without the humanities, great tech cannot exist. Here's why"
  • Ulanoff (2018) "Did Google Duplex just pass the Turing Test?"
  • Lomas (2018) "Duplex shows Google failing at ethical and creative AI design"
  • Raynolds & Lewis (2017) "Teams Solve Problems Faster When They’re More Cognitively Diverse"
  • Frontier Strategy: Whitepaper #1 (2009) & Whitepaper #4 (2012)
  • “Collaboration - On the edge of a new paradigm?” (documentary, 2015)
  • Birkegaard & Martiny (2016) ”Open Media Science”
  • Cooper (2012) “Not Fats, No Fems” (Huffpost, blog)
  • Michael Hobbes (2017) "Together Alone"
  • Norman (1999) “Affordance, Conventions, and Design”
  • Kelley (2013) excerpt from ”Creative Confidence”
  • Bearman (2015) "The Untold Story of the Silk Road 1+2"
  • Beyer (2014) "Expect Us - Online Communities & Political Mobilization"
  • Danish Media Development (2018)
  • Lundby (2009) excerpt from “Mediatization as Key”
  • Citizenfour (documentary, 2014)
  • Snowden’s Great Escape (documentary, 2015)
  • Foucault (1975) excerpt from “Discipline and Punish”
  • Jabbar & Bjørn (2017) “Growing the Blockchain information infrastructure”
  • Sims Bainbridge (2020) "The Social Structure of Online Communities"
  • Spracklen (2015) "Digital Leisure, the Internet & Popular Culture"
  • Susskind (2018) "Future Politics - Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech"
  • Zuboff (2019) "'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism"
  • Zuboff (2016) "The Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism" 

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

Date Details Due