Teaching a seminar on digital campaigning in local elections

In the winter semester 2017/2018, I tought a block seminar on “Digital Campaigning and Big Data in Local Elections” at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, together with Franz Knoppe. The research seminar sought to explore new digital tools in political campaigns and their applicability to the German municipal context.

The participants were predominantly bachelor students of information and library sciences. Thus, we had to include basics of political science without diverting from the actual seminar topic.

The seminar consisted of three parts: In the first block, we explored topics such as changes in media consumption and the history of political campaigning in Germany, differences in user groups as well as communication and attention patterns among different digital platforms, and which messages work well in social media. In a second part, we examined “new” digital tools, such as microtargeting, data sources for campaign managers, social bots, social media, and user profiling. Additionally, lectures by activist Katharina Nocun, journalist Christian Gesellmann, and social media campaign manager Robin Mesarosch gave a practitioner’s perspective on our topic.

The third part of the seminar focussed on selecting and preparing the contributions to a reader on digital campaigning in German local elections, which the students will produce as their exam.


Photo credit: "Berlin Humboldt-Universität Juristische Fakultät" by NoRud

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