Honors Program: Trust in the Information Age
Are you an ambitious student, ready to take on an extra challenge? Do you wish to broaden your acquaintance with other scientific disciplines? Sign up for the Honors Program Trust in the Information Age!
Trust is an indispensable element of our individual and social lives. In order to survive, we need to trust: other people, institutions, media and technology, the stories we tell each other, and the law. After all, most of what we know comes from the testimony of others, which only works if we deem these others competent and sincere, in short: reliable.
The program offers you four interdisciplinary courses – taught by lecturers from different schools within Tilburg University - in which multiple aspects of trust and reliability will be considered from political, cultural, legal, economic and media perspectives.
The courses are exclusively open to participants in the Honors Program and are designed to gratify the participants’ curiosity rather than simply extend their regular course programs.
What can I expect?
For more information, check out this short introduction video.
During the second and third year of your Bachelor’s program, you will take a total of four extra courses, one per semester. The courses are taught in the evening hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. The courses are interactive and stimulate discussion among students from various fields of study. For each session, there is a reading assignment, and the courses will be finalized with a written exam or paper (no re-sit). If you plan a semester abroad, an online module is an option.
Law: ‘You can trust me, I'm a lawyer’: cementing trust(worthiness) in law and institutions
- Prof. dr. Ronald Leenes, Prof. dr. Esther Keymolen (TLS-TILT), Dr. Irene Kamara (TLS-TILT)
- Coordinator: Prof. dr. Ronald Leenes (TLS-TILT)
This course offers an ethics (of technology) and legal perspective on trust in the information age. It provides a lens for understanding trust mediated by smart artefacts and internet platforms, Keymolen's four C model: context, curation, codifcation, construction, and provides an analysis of law as a means to 'cementing' trust and trustworthiness.
It explores a number of mechanisms (such as liability, rules, principles and standards, fiduciaries, and regulators). Examples will be drawn from areas such as product and service seals and marks, cybersecurity trustmarks, blockchain, social media platforms (fake news), AI (chatbots, deepfakes).
Communication & Cognition: (Dis)Trust in Connected Societies
- Dr. Frédéric Tomas (TSHD-DCC)
This course, titled "(Dis)Trust in Connected Societies," offers a comprehensive exploration of the multifaceted nature of trust and distrust in contemporary societies. Drawing from various disciplines including social and cognitive psychology, and communication sciences, this course delves into the origins, manifestations, and consequences of trust and distrust. Students will gain insights into the psychological, sociological, and media-related factors influencing trust formation.
Additionally, the course emphasizes the exploration of trust-building strategies through the analysis of real-world case studies. Students will investigate the implications of issues such as misinformation, conspiracy theories, and deception through the lens of frameworks such as the Truth-Default Theory or Game Theory.
Media Studies: Spot the Liar! Unreliable Narrators in Literature, Film, and Games (online module)*
The last decades, a whole range of unreliable narrators and characters have populated not just literary fiction, but also film (Gone Girl, American Beauty, Memento, Fight Club) and videogames (The Wolf Among Us, Spec-Op: The Line; Dear Esther; Telling Lies). Confronted with stories, how do we decide when to adopt a trusting, and when a vigilant reading attitude and strategy? Can we use this knowledge to mitigate the risks of misinformation?
This course focuses on unreliability in stories through the disciplinary frame of narratology, the study of narrative. We look at both the textual and narrative elements and cognitive processes involved. We analyze examples of unreliable narration in (digital) literature, film, picturebooks and videogames, and discuss how we can use narratology’s toolkit for detecting and interpreting unreliability in the context of prevalent challenges of misinformation today.
* This optional online module consists of video lectures and assignments and is meant for Honours students taking a semester abroad.
Artificial Intelligence: Assessing Trust in Artificial Intelligence System
Artificial intelligence (AI) systems have increased in sophistication in the past few years. Most noteworthy are advances with various large language models (e.g., ChatGPT, FLAN-T5, Sparrow) that have set new benchmarks for the sophistication of AI models. While this brings an exciting opportunity to harness these models, introducing large language models to the general public also creates dilemmas around fairness, transparency, and robustness. Such challenges are exacerbated by the models' size, complexity and opaque nature, making it unfeasible to explain in detail analytically how they arrived at a specific output.
This course will adopt a new perspective on studying such complex computational models by resorting to methods from social and behavioural research that allow us to make inferences about the (inner) processes and, ultimately, the behaviour of these models. Students will learn the basic principles of large language models, how to interact with them, and how a machine behaviour approach can be used to assess trust in these powerful models. This course does not require prior knowledge of machine learning, AI systems or programming.
Philosophy: Epistemologies of Trust and Vigilance in the Data Age
Since we are asked to place a significant degree of trust in the data-driven algorithms that regulate our lives, it is important to critically assess the conditions under which that trust is warranted. This course provides an interdisciplinary perspective and combines insights from virtue epistemology, economics and (popular) culture to examine fundamental questions about the nature of trust and trustworthiness, epistemic justification, and the epistemic virtues we should cultivate to use information technologies in responsible ways.
Drawing on critical and feminist theory, we also explore how our epistemic practices (of e.g. trust and vigilance) are mediated by power structures and can be a vector of racial, gender, and class-based injustice. This raises crucial questions about the Epistemology of (Big) Data under conditions of inequality, algorithmic bias, and (surveillance) capitalism, including barriers to trust for disadvantaged communities. To address these questions and highlight the multifaceted challenges facing epistemology in the Data Age, the course integrates philosophical theory with literature, film, (business) case studies and economics.
Upon successfully completing the four courses (6 ECTS each), you will receive a certificate signed by the Rector Magnificus at the time of awarding your Bachelor’s degree.
The credits obtained for the courses of the Honors Program cannot be used to meet the regular demands of the Bachelor’s program.
How to apply for the Honors Program?
Please be informed that this Honors Program is only available for Bachelor students. Only first year Bachelor’s students can apply for this Honors Program. You can apply for the Honors Program if you have completed the first year of your Bachelor's program (60 ECTS) or if you will complete the first year of your Bachelor’s program (60 ECTS) by August 31, 2023 latest. The average must be of at least 7.0.
You can apply for the Honors Program as of June 1, 2023 via this form.
The deadline for applying is August 15. Students who are admitted will be notified end of August. The courses start in the week of August 28, 2023.
For more information, contact:
Liesbeth Bluekens (study advisor) and Inge van de Ven (academic coordinator) via email@example.com.
Practical information on the Honors Program
Aron JoosseCourse participant
The program was always a breath of fresh air to me. Instead of the vertical specialization of the bachelor’s, we got together to discuss varying topics with students from a wide array of academic disciplines. I learned a lot from my peers, appreciating the full extent of academia at our university and understanding different ways of looking at issues that I still benefit from in my daily life.