Applying Ethics in Digital Innovation

Technology is not neutral. In this course we discuss and practice how to recognise and address moral questions in digital innovation. This will be very much a hands-on course.

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Course Level
Advanced Bachelor
ECTS credits
Course location(s)
Utrecht, The Netherlands


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.

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 which digitalisation offers in a responsible manner that respects individual and societal values.

The following topics will be addressed:

  • Why ethics is important in relation to digital innovation;
  • The relation between legal, ethical and social dimensions in questions concerning digitalisation;
  • 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 Documents

Day-to-day programme Applying Ethics in Digital Innovation 2024.docx


  • Dr. ir. Marlies van Steenbergen 
  • Drs. Cathelijn Timmers
  • Prof. dr. ir. Johan Versendaal

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.

Starting time on Monday is 10.00 am, all other days 9.00 am. End time is 17.00 hours on all days. 


  • Course fee: €600.00
  • Included: Course + course materials

Additional information

Housing for July 8 to July 12 is fully booked for new applications. For hotel and hostel options click here.

The housing costs do not include a Utrecht Summer School sleeping bag. This is a separate product on the invoice. If you wish to bring your own bedding, please deselect or remove the sleeping bag from your order.