Applying Ethics in Digital Innovation

Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
Course Level
Advanced Bachelor

Technology is not neutral. In this course we discuss and practice how to recognise and address moral questions in digital innovation. How do you respect personal and public values such as security, autonomy, well-being or distributive justice in technological designs? And how do your own values and norms influence the choices you make or would like to make? We introduce various ethical tools and techniques and show how their application leads to more value-sensitive choices. This will be very much a hands-on course.

Every digital application stimulates some behaviour while discouraging other behaviour. These effects may be immediate, but they may also occur much later in time. They may affect direct users of the applications, but also other, indirect, stakeholders. As the huge implications of digitalisation become ever more apparent, we see an increase in moral awareness concerning digital innovation. In this course we provide product owners, designers, developers and implementers of digital solutions the instruments to recognise and address moral questions and dilemmas. The aim is to use the great opportunities digitalisation offers in a responsible manner that respects individual and societal values.

We address the following topics:

  • Why ethics is important in relation to digital innovation;
  • The relation between legal, ethical and social dimensions in questions concerning digitalisation;
  • The rise of responsible innovation;
  • Ethical schools, such as deontology, utilitarianism and virtue ethics, and how they help to address moral dilemmas;
  • The occurrence of ethical blindness;
  • The use of persuasion and nudging;
  • Implications of digitalisation and datafication;
  • Value Sensitive Design as an approach to take human values into account;
  • Practical instruments such as the ethical matrix and the intention outcome matrix to identify impact on the values of direct and indirect stakeholders;
  • How to conduct a philosophical dialogue to investigate personal norms;
  • The use of Ethical guidelines and Codes of conduct.

The course contains brief introductions of ethical theory and explanations of practical ethical tools, with a focus on applying these theories and tools in actual cases. In this way the participants will get hands-on experience of how to apply the theory to their own work and life.

This course will only be provided on location in Utrecht. 

Day-to-Day programme Applying Ethics in Digital Innovation 2023.pdf
Course director
Dr. ir. Marlies van Steenbergen


  • Dr. ir. Marlies van Steenbergen 
  • Drs. Cathelijn Timmers

Target audience

Students or practitioners who are involved or interested in digitalisation and want to learn more about the impact of digitalisation on human values and how to take this into account during design and implementation of digital solutions.

Aim of the course

Provide participants with insights and practical experience in recognising, addressing and dealing with moral questions in digital innovation.

Study load

Five days, six to eight contact hours per day, one to two hours of self-study per day.


Course fee:
Fee covers
Course + course materials
Housing fee:
Housing cost
Housing provider:
Utrecht Summer School

Contact details

Marlies van Steenbergen | E:


Application deadline: 
Registration deadline
12 June 2023