Internet and Global Society

Course (undergraduate): Jour 3552 Internet and Global Society

Department: School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota

Most recent syllabus: Fall 2014



This course examines how the Internet, as a decentralized and de-territorialized network, is connected with media and life in a globalized world. The course is both issue- and country-oriented, exploring how issues of digital technologies—such as social media and activism, copyright and piracy, and e-commerce and government regulation—intersect with politics, economics, technology, and society at the level of nation-states and cultures. A variety of theories or perspectives relevant or related to new media and global communication will be considered to help make sense of the interplay between Internet and society in a global setting.

This course is roughly divided into two parts: conceptual and practical perspectives on Internet governance, and critical issues facing states and citizens at the global level. The division is designed to examine the structure and processes of the Internet and global society in both the theoretical and practical space. Because of the rapid growth of the Internet-related technologies (e.g., smartphones, social networks, and SMS tools in the developing world), it is simply impossible to survey the current Internet conditions and developments in all countries. The readings and discussions thus place special emphasis on a few select countries, or a few select cases, that may help illustrate how and why the Internet is revolutionizing (or not) the world’s geopolitical and socio-cultural landscape. Specifically, we investigate (1) the political, cultural, social, technological, and economic conditions that shape and are shaped by the presence of the Internet at the national and cross-national levels; (2) the effects of the Internet on the form and content of mass communication at the global level; and (3) the implications of Internet use for human and social relations across national borders.



The fundamental goal of this course is to help students explore the social, economic, cultural and political impact of the Internet in a global context. Our purpose is to discuss, reflect upon, and make sense of digital issues facing the international community broadly, as well as the United States and students’ own lives specifically. Ultimately, this course aims to help students develop greater awareness and critical thinking skills to help them become productive citizens in a digital age.

Jour 3552 is structured to provide students not only with a body of knowledge about the Internet and globalization, but also, more fundamentally, with the tools and skills to assess that knowledge and use it when engaging pressing ethical and social issues. This course helps students reflect on the shared sense of responsibility required to build and maintain community—both locally and around the globe, and online as well as offline. Jour 3552 also presents students with timely and engaging questions to help them connect what they are learning to their own lives and to the world around them.

This course is structured such that students should be able to:

  1. Develop a critical understanding of the changing global media infrastructure in the digital information age.
  2. Develop the ability to identify the issues and problems concerning the form and content of the Internet in the global society.
  3. Develop the skills and knowledge to use the Internet as an important tool for gathering information about “real world” events and issues.
  4. Apply relevant theories and perspectives to the analysis of globalization and its consequences in relation to the role and function of the Internet.
  5. Conduct cross-national research on concepts, practices and structures related to the Internet and its surrounding technologies.
  6. Understand the interplay among the Internet, mass communication, and global society in a comparative context.



The Association of American Colleges and Universities defines liberal education not as a specific field of study but rather as a general philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of values, ethics and civic engagement. Jour 3552 is structured to provide students with the opportunity to engage in detailed analysis of and reflection on the internet and digital media technologies in a globalized world. Students will engage in critical evaluation of the internet, and will understand the social, economic, cultural and historical context within which this medium and its attendant features and implications have emerged. Moreover, students will examine pressing ethical and social issues surrounding media technologies and the political, economic and social forces that shape our digital media environment. These goals are in line with the objectives of the Global Perspectives theme within a liberal education, which this course is certified as fulfilling in the College of Liberal Arts.