United Kingdom, London

Global Digital Futures: Decolonizing the Digital Economy

when 22 July 2019 - 9 August 2019
language English
duration 3 weeks
fee GBP 1600

This course critically explores the contemporary global digital economy with an emphasis on social impact startups as drivers for positive economic and social change. Situated at the Centre for Global Media and Communication in the school of Interdisciplinary Studies at SOAS, it provides a unique combination of critical approaches to the emerging digital economy from the perspective of the Global South with practical hands-on knowledge of how to design and develop alternative business models for using digital technology for social change.

The course is structured around three parts. The first week explores the history of post-World War II digital economy and the emergence of the technology startup model as a driver for economic growth, the business and investment “ecosystem” associated with it, and its economic, political and social ramifications. It will draw on case studies from the global digital economy in themes such as big data, smart cities, e-health, mobile banking and AI. During the second week, students will engage with these academic and policy debates on the global digital economy to develop their own projects using digital technology for social good. During the final week, then, the students will, with the help of course convenors and mentors, develop business plans and presentations based on their critical ideas. This will culminate in a social impact incubator-style “pitch day” where students present their project ideas to a group of mock funders in order to get feedback and suggestions on their ideas and its sustainability in real world situations.

Course leader

Dr. Matti Pohjonen

Target group

You will have completed one year of undergraduate study at the time of joining the Academic Summer School. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.

Course aim

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

-Understand and assess key emerging trends in the global digital economy and critical debates around them.
-Understand the different business models used in the global digital economy including start-ups, innovation labs and incubators and alternatives to these (such as social enterprises or commons-based peer production).
-Gain knowledge on how to develop ideas for social change into concrete project proposals and sustainable business plans and present them to potential funders and investors.

Credits info

Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Fee info

GBP 1600: There is a 10% early bird discount for applications received by 31st March 2019


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