Holger Hermanns had the idea to import ethics into the curriculum of computer science students. At the chair for Practical Philosophy of Ulla Wessels and Christoph Fehige, he encountered Kevin Baum, a young scientist with a solid background in both, Informatics and Philosophy. Together, they started Ethics for Nerds.
Trial Balloon: the Proseminar "Ethik für Nerds"
In order to find out how such a course would be received by computer science students, Holger Hermanns and Kevin Baum taught an introductory seminar (Proseminar) undergraduate students in German. And it worked!
First Media Reports
Even the very small “Ethik für Nerds”-Prosemiar with only about 20 participants already caught the media’s attention. There were radio reports by the SR and Deutschlandfunk.
The Real Thing Takes Off: The 1st Iteration of the Lecture
After being successful as a proseminar, nothing stood in the way of Ethics for Nerds becoming a full-fledged computer science course, open to all undergraduate and Master’s students of computer science and related subjects. The first iteration of Ethics for Nerds was held!
More Media Coverage
Now being a lecture, the course attracted more media attention. This time, heise.de and dpa were interested in the course. There also was a feature-length podcast by Zündfunk Generator, which later was awarded the Journalist Prize for Informatics.
After a succesful first iteration, a second one is not long in coming. Consequently, Ethics for Nerds went to the second round, with even more students attending the course.
Dagstuhl Teacher Training Day
Not only students of computer science should learn about ethics. So, Kevin and Ulla Wessels gave a workshop for teachers on a selection of topics covered by Ethics for Nerds. The workshop aimed at informatics teachers from the entire south-west of the federal republic.
One of the features of Ethics for Nerds is that it always tries to be up-to-date. In a fast-moving digital world, this means that a new iteration of the course is a lot more than simply recycling old slides. Every new iteration comes with a lot of changes. New material = new slides, new examples, new topics!
Hochschulperle of January 2019
In January 2019, Ethics for Nerds was awarded the Stifterverband’s Hochschulperle of the Month.
Article in the FAZ
More than four years after the initial idea, Ethics for Nerds is now more relevant and interesting than ever for the public (or so we think). We even made it into the FAZ.
The course went into its now fourth iteration and has had some major changes. Not only did Sarah Sterz now lecture most of the course, it also was a block course this year.
Thanks to many voters, we were awarded the Hochschulperle 2019!