Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication

Digital Media Ethics

Loyola’s School of Communication and its Center for Digital Ethics and Policy (CDEP) offer a new certificate course aimed to help create responsible digital citizens that can navigate ethical issues online and offline. This nine week program focuses on personal integrity, ethical behavior and the appropriate balance between justice and fairness in journalism and other professions as it manifests in the digital world. Course participants will be able to shape their learning around the ethical issues that are most likely to come up in their particular professional contexts and be able to take this knowledge back to their organization to help guide policy and procedure for dealing with digital ethics.

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Ideal For:

Working professionals who want to stay ahead of the ethical dilemmas created by the use of digital technologies.

Program Format:

This course is taught in an online format with a two-day program at Loyola University Chicago’s downtown campus during the CDEP’s annual symposium on digital ethics. Students will complete readings and exercises in their own time during the week, which will then be discussed during the online sessions.

Program Dates:

September 6th - November 1st

Key Topics:

  • Ethical foundations, codes of ethics and ethical decision making tools
  • Basic overview of the legal limits of online speech
  • Strategies to spot and deal with fake content
  • Strategies to deal with online comment sections
  • Intellectual property and user generated content
  • Understanding and navigating privacy concerns
  • Ethical issues with big data
  • The limits of manipulating visuals
  • The ethics of deception and subterfuge
  • Ethical issues in the professions (advertising, journalism, PR,… )
  • Creating a personal and professional ethics statement
  • Recognizing and interviewing a moral exemplar
  • Selected topic areas related to the students’ professional background

Course Outline

Online Session One: Five Weeks

During these first five weeks, participants will cover the common core curriculum of this class.
September 6, September 13, September 20, September 27, October 4
7:30pm - 8:45pm Central Time
Participants join Bastiaan Vanacker and other faculty for live online sessions.
(Sessions will be taped for later replay for those with schedule conflicts.)

In-Person at Loyola Chicago’s Water Tower Campus

This section will serve as the conclusion of the first part of this class. Students will attend the 7th  Annual Symposium on Digital Ethics where renowned scholars will give talks and presentations on a variety of topics related to digital ethics. The next day, students and symposium participants will discuss the events of the preceding day in seminar format. The instructor will also be available before and after these events to meet with students one-on-one about their personalized curriculum.
October 12: Social meet and greet (optional).
October 13: Attend 7th  Annual Symposium on Digital Ethics organized by the CDEP at Loyola University Chicago’s downtown campus.
October 14: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm Seminar with Bastiaan Vanacker and ethics symposium participants.

Online Session Two: Three Weeks

During the final three weeks, students will work through a curriculum tailored –in consultation with the instructor- to their professional needs, interview a moral exemplar and work on drafting a personal and professional ethics statement.
October 18, October 25, November 1
7:30pm - 8:45pm Central Time


Bastiaan Vanacker is an Associate Professor at Loyola University Chicago, where he teaches courses in media ethics and law. He holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota and a M.A. in philosophy from the University of Ghent, Belgium. He is the former head of the Media Ethics Division of the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication. Since 2014, he has been the Program Director for the CDEP. His work has appeared in a variety of academic journals and has covered issues including regulation of hate speech, plagiarism detection software, and virtual communities.

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For a course consultation, please contact us at: LoyolaSOC@luc.edu or 312.915.6548. Prospective students are encouraged to visit our FAQ section.