Oxford Training Sessions on the Modern Information Society
Session No. 3: Cyberspace and Society: New Threats and Opportunities for Welfare
|When||September 30 - October 2, 2016|
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The Oxford Training Sessions discuss innovative uses of information technology in Estonia and elsewhere to identify, clarify, and model how changing configurations in cyberspace influence the structures and processes of political systems within and across national borders. Classroom lectures and discussion are designed to allow students to relate information society issues with their primary studies in other fields. Practical simulation exercises enable students to translate this new knowledge into concrete insights and recommendations for professional action.
The course is specifically designed for university students working in non-IT fields at all levels of instruction (BA, Diploma, Masters, PhD). No previous IT or computer science training is required to enrol. Students specializing in IT fields are also welcome to attend the course. Non-students may be allowed to enroll subject to space limitations.
The challenges and opportunities of the information society are not solely or even primarily technical in nature – they also involve elemental questions of political culture and institutions, public policy, ethics, law, and diplomacy. The course will merge technical insights with theoretical and empirical knowledge in the political and social sciences to clarify the nontechnical aspects of cyber security and e-government issues.
Instructors will draw from and apply social science research to clarify how innovations in information technology affect the security and welfare of states and citizens. Classroom lectures seek to demystify the technical rudiments of cyberspace while developing students’ theoretical and applied understanding of the workings of the information society.
Training Session No.3 will consist of eight lectures on the following topics:
- Computing and Networks—The Basics
- Computer Security: Authentication and Biometrics
- New Threat Landscapes: Aviation Security
- National and International Security in the Cyber Age
- European e-Health
- E-Prescriptions: Benefits and Success Factors
- Social Media Analytics: Propagation of Information and Influence
- Proxy Cyber Actors: Implications for State Strategy
The final day of the course comprises a cyber crisis simulation exercise. The exercise will apply classroom understandings to the management of a major practical event, such as an international cyber conflict or a breakdown in state information systems, requiring a coordinated response across government agencies, the public and private sectors, as well as foreign governments and international organizations.
The Oxford training sessions will provide the following learning outcomes
- a basic technical understanding of the origins, structure, and workings of cyberspace generally and of state information systems specifically
- a historical grasp of the emergence of the information society – especially the political and institutional factors that produced its rapid growth in Estonia or that impede its expansion elsewhere
- a broad understanding of the benefits and opportunities of the information society for public health, welfare, national security, and international influence
- a strong grasp of the nature, sources, and categories of cyber threats to national and international security as well as political stability
- a comprehensive knowledge of the variety of policy and organizational responses to those threats within public and private industry as well as in national and international society
The simulation exercise will provide the following learning outcomes
- a basic familiarity of the operations and management of critical computer systems
- an understanding of how theoretical knowledge in the political and social sciences may apply to the resolution of practical challenges facing the information society
- an awareness of shortcomings in current capacities as a basis for developing new and improved information service
The course’s teaching staff comprises faculty and researchers based at Oxford University’s Department of Politics and International Relations, Department of Computer Science, and Oxford Internet Institute. Lecturers from Tallinn University of Technology will also participate in the course.
Course Credits and Research Opportunities
Students who successfully complete the training session will be offered
- a formal accreditation of participation from Oxford University
- 2 ECTS credits from Tallinn University of Technology
Moreover, upon completion of the course, a small number of students will be invited to participate in the research and publication activities of Oxford University’s Cyber Studies Programme.
The course is provided on a Pass/Fail basis. Students will be expected to complete two short written assignments, demonstrating a general grasp of the issues and problems discussed in the readings and lectures. Full attendance is necessary to receive the course accreditation and credits (but registered students are not required to attend all lectures and the exercise).
The Oxford Training Sessions have received extremely high ratings from students. Below is a selection of comments from previous participants.
On the course generally
- “Very inspirational instructors!“
- “The presentations were remarkably high-class when it comes to quality”
- "Haven't had any experience about cyber security or such an interest in politics...So, this course really was very interesting and gave me a lot of new information, thank you!"
- "I am very pleased and thankful for all the lectures. Well-structured, understandable and broadened my views a lot"
- “As a lawyer, I found the interdisciplinary approach very useful and would definitely recommend to continue with the approach as well as with training sessions in general, since there have not been any similar cyber-related events organised in the past”
- “Excellen charisma!“
- “All in all, the course is perfect“
- "Interesting course, bravo!"
- “The experience was so enriching! Keep up the good work!“
- “What an awesome presentation! Relevant and very straightforward“
- “Even though I did [the course] the second time, it was very different and interesing“
On the simulation exercise:
- “Totally loved the simulation exercise“
- "Something very new and exciting to me"
- "I have never experienced something so practical before, very well organized"
- “Very interesting experience! Great opportunity to be in the role of a ministry advisor“
- “That was like a real-life situation“
- "I have never had this kind of exercise, but I sure hope I will [again] in future"
- "Questions that were asked [were] amazing, they were related to events that were happening. I loved it"
- “The simulation was also a fun experience, which illustrated perfectly the complexity of the problems at hand”
- “Fantastic game“
- “No matter how many times this simulation gets repeated, I will always attend it“
A course funded by the European Social Fund and offered by Oxford University’s Cyber Studies Programme in collaboration with the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and Tallinn University of Technology.