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Data Studies and Ethical Data Work – Two positions available

The Ethical Data Initiative at the chair of Philosophy and History of Science and Technology (est. September 2024) of Prof. Sabina Leonelli is a global coordinating hub for research on data ethics and related education and policy activities. We are looking forward to collaborate with a highly motivated postdoctoral researcher who shares our deep interest in exploring educational, social, and governance issues that emerge in the context of working with data (both within and beyond the realm of scientific research), as well as possible future scenarios and applications particularly in relation to Artificial Intelligence.
We are looking for fellows with a background in policy, governance or data science and a strong interest in data studies and practical applications.

We are a very interdisciplinary team and world-leading expertise in the philosophy, history and social studies of data, data ethics and the governance of data and AI. We invite the researcher taking on this position under the chair of Philosophy and History of Science and Technology to become a core contributor to the Ethical Data Initiative.

About the Ethical Data Initiative at the TUM Think Tank

The Ethical Data Initiative is a global coordinating hub for research on data ethics and related education and policy activities. It brings together a network of relevant partners with the aim to scale up available resources to foster just, ethical and responsible data production, trading, processing and use around the world. We are particularly interested in developing training resources and governance models for under-resourced parts of society, including research institutions as well as small and medium enterprises, civil society organizations, social services, public administrations and other public bodies – which do crucial data work across the globe yet do not typically have in-house resources to develop skills in responsible data management.

What we offer:


We look forward to receiving your application by 1st of April 2024!
We will review applications on a continuous basis thus, they should be submitted as early as possible via e-mail to:

Learn more and apply here.

Data is changing how we live and engage with and within our societies and our economies. As our digital footprints grow, how do we re-imagine ourselves in the digital world? How will we be able to determine the data-driven decisions that impact us?

Members of the  Munich School of Politics and Public Policy  (Hochschule für Politik, HfP) are participants in the International Digital Self-Determination Network, a collaborative multi-stakeholder effort that is defining and advancing the concept of digital self-determination. The concept aims to propose ways to create and engage in trustworthy data spaces and ensure human-centric approaches when living in a data-driven society. It aims to enable and bolster the digital self-determination of individuals.

As part of this collaboration, members of the  HfP contributed to a  co-organized conference on digital self-determination in June 2022 in collaboration with the Directorate of International Law (DIL) of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. At the conference, which took place in Lucerne, Switzerland, four studios presenting and exploring use cases were set up and learnings from these use cases were analyzed, compared, and discussed. HfP Rector Prof. Dr. Urs Gasser shared the collected insights with the audience and acted as a co-research partner, providing support during the conference. He organized and conducted several meetings with the DIL and the stakeholders of the studios to discuss progress made in the studios to ensure a common methodological approach and contributed to translating these findings into a draft report.

The network's research and outreach efforts were continuously supported by the team of the Professorship of Public Policy, Governance and Innovative Technologies, offering guidance, support, and mentoring to the expanding global network.

The other founding partners of the network are the Directorate of International Law, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs; the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Data Governance at Singapore Management University; the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; and The GovLab at New York University.

How can we make better use of the economic and social potential of data without losing sight of possible negative aspects? On 2. February 2023, we organized a panel discussion on the current state of the data policy in Germany.

Key insights from the discussion

The event was kicked-off by Moritz Hennemann (University of Passau) who put the efforts of German data policy into a larger European context. He stressed that data policy is one of the crucial cross-cutting issues of our time – as, for instance, weather data is crucial for planning your weekend travels to monitoring climate change or flight traffic and includes military purposes. He further noted that data usage always comes with trade-offs between various norms and decisions, e.g., between the economic usage of data and privacy rights. One way forward for an effective data policy according to Moritz Hennemann is to think in sectoral fields of applications and create sectoral data spaces which facilitate and foster the usage and sharing of data. Based on these experimentations, shared criteria and measures for data spaces can then be developed.

Based on this input the panel started with a discussion of the envisioned data institute to be set up by the German government. Andreas Peichl as member of the founding commission of the Data Institute gave an overview of the goals and structure of the data institute to be implemented. While the panelists agreed that the data institute is the right step in the right direction, it was stressed that the institute will need an agile structure and enough financial backing. Moreover, the panelists highlighted that its success will largely depend on the selection of effective areas of applications and use cases.

Another strand of the discussion focused on the question of what effective data policies for a common good need in the next 5 to 10 years. Here, Benjamin Adjei stressed the existing gaps in Bavaria which lacks appropriate strategies, laws, and infrastructures for an effective data policy. According to Amélie Heldt the state can play a crucial role here, e.g., by creating open data repositories that can be utilized by startups as well as actors from academia, civil society or the public sector. Moreover, she advocated for the creation of sandboxes and spaces for experimentation to create positive uses cases.

The last part of the discussion centered on the (perceived) tradeoffs between data protection and data usage. Here, the panelists agreed that data protection is frequently misused to shield off and block access to and usage of data. Amélie Heldt also stressed that the GDPR is crucial as it creates trust among citizens, whereas Andreas Peichl presented some examples for different treatments of GDPR requests depending on the local context. Benjamin Adjei criticized the simple “black-or-white” thinking when it comes to data protection versus data usage.

The panel discussion centered on strategies and narratives to facilitate data usage and sharing. The panel debated the added economic and societal benefits, while also addressing its related challenges for citizens, business and regulators touching upon topics linked to the data institute, data for common good and the necessary prerequisites for effective data usage for public interest.

The panelists strongly agreed that we need a shift of narratives and direction focusing more on a positive vision of data usage and what good can come out of data-driven projects for society at large. To this end, however, we need to invest more financial resources and build up organizational and infrastructural capacities that put us in the position of using data for the public interest.

Partners & organization

The panel discussion was part of the series "Governance by & of Technology" which was hosted in 2022 / 2023 at the TUM Think Tank. The public event attracted a broad audience who joined the three panelists Amélie Heldt (Digital Policy Officer at the Federal Chancellery), Benjamin Adjei (Member of the Bavarian State Parliament and Digital Policy Spokesperson for Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen), and Andreas Peichl (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Ifo Institute & Member of the Founding Commission of the Data Institute). The event was moderated by Sofie Schönborn (TU Munich).

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