Welcome to the blog of the Digital Constitutionalism Network (DCN), an interdisciplinary network of scholars committed to research, teaching and advocacy at the intersection of law, the social sciences and technology. We will use this blog to share news about the network’s activities in these areas, one of which is a Teaching Partnership that involves students and courses from several universities across Europe. Since this is such an important activity, as it contributes to engaging young people with the core themes addressed by the network,we start this blog with an overview of our common teaching activities brought together in the Digital Constitutionalism Teaching Partnership. Following blog posts will include writings by groups of students who participated in this experiential learning, narrating their work, main findings and reflections.
A transnational teaching and learning space
The Digital Constitutionalism Teaching Partnership started as a pilot project following the network’s founding (at CAIS in Bochum in the fall of 2019). Members of the DCN saw in the initial focus on common teaching activities a productive way to learn about each other’s research, and to involve students in the academic knowledge production concerning fundamental rights online, the role of constitutional law and constitutionalization in the digital age and other interests of the network. The first time around, the Teaching Partnership brought together over 100 students from four European universities (University of Salerno, University of Padova, Dublin City University and the University of Bremen) through video conference sessions, and a shared core reading list. This experience was strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that went global in the first half of 2020. While envisioned physical meetings between scholars and students from the various universities had to be cancelled, the quick adoption of digital learning tools – first and foremost more effective video conferences – allowed us to carry on with the core idea of bringing students together for discussions of concepts and issues. The spring 2020 instalment of the Teaching Partnership entailed a collaboration between the universities in Salerno and Padova and their students with DCU’s Edoardo Celeste to translate the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet into Italian (see here for the Italian version of the document).
Working across universities and involving groups of students allowed the network to meet several goals: providing students with a truly transnational experience focused on rights-based global governance of the Internet; fostering a conversation among students from different fields and backgrounds so as to articulate a common understanding of digital constitutionalism as a trans-disciplinary area of knowledge and practice; developing a new toolkit for teachers interested in the field of digital constitutionalism, so that the experiential learning can be strengthened. It has proven a great experience, and we can say all participants have learned a lot, through a virtual exchange approach, while having fun.
We hope you enjoy our students’ work!