Digital Constitutionalism Network Teaching Partnership

The digital constitutionalism teaching partnership brings together students from partner universities to study and contribute to the field of law and technology governance.

Digital constitutionalism describes the political process of entrenching rights and principles into the global governance of digital technologies, specifically the Internet. Digital constitutionalism does not describe actual legal constitutions but normative conversations about which rights and principles should govern the Internet – locally, nationally and globally. Documents of digital constitutionalism have been proposed by different kinds of actors – including civil society, business, governments, national parliaments, political parties, international organizations – and have emerged from a national level or transnationally.

In the spring semester 2020, Claudia Padovani (Università degli Studi di Padova), Mauro Santaniello (Università degli Studi di Salerno), Edoardo Celeste (Dublin City University) and Dennis Redeker (Universität Bremen) came together and brought together students from three universities, and from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, in order to create a diverse digitally connected learning space centered around digital constitutionalism. This common experience was designed as a pilot for future broader partnerships.

The goals of this pilot were manifold:

  1. Providing students with a truly transnational experience – partly mediated by digital technologies – learning about the rights-based global governance of the Internet as entailed in the study of digital constitutionalism.
  2. Fostering a conversation among students from different fields and backgrounds so as to articulate a common understanding of digital constitutionalism as a necessarily trans-disciplinary area of knowledge and practice.
  3. For students at the universities of Padova and Salerno: Engaging in common practical tasks between the two groups (contribution to the Italian translation of the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet).
  4. Developing a new toolkit for teachers interested in the field of digital constitutionalism, potentially aiming to establish an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership.
  5. Investigating the possibility of a massive open online course (MOOC) as a future format to accompany common on-site teaching activities.

In 2022, this teaching partnership was extended and now include joint projects, joint seminars, collaboration between classes and students from Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland and Italy. This will bring together students from across Europe into virtual classrooms to share ideas and further the values of human rights and the digital constitutionalism network.

This year, students will collaborate to build Wikipedia entries around digital constitutionalism to enable easier access to the fundamental principles of digital constitutionalism. At the end of the semester, in late June, a symposium will be held by the digital constitutionalism network where each student will have the opportunity to present their work from across the semester.