Preparing the next generation of leaders for the future has always been a difficult task. What will the world look like then? What footprints are we leaving? Which decisions need to be made? And who (or “what”) can make these decisions? These questions are just as relevant as before but apart from that we now face the digital world and the digital sphere is all around us, raising some additional questions: How will we interact with (semi-)automated decision-making systems? Who am I when I`m online vs. when I`m offline? What do I want people to know about me?
Karlshochschule International University is developing a supportive curriculum to equip our students with the tools to deal with these questions. To do this, we rely on the feedback from our students and engage with some leaders in digitalization and innovation to co-create the education of tomorrow.
Furthermore, as ethics and management are at the core of Karls’ vision of responsible management education, a bridge between classical management and how the same changes in the digital world needs to be built. In times of big data and more complex systems, decision making in this complex environment gets more challenging and a new set of digital skills is required from the citizens and the future leaders.
What could these digital skills be?
The beginning were guest lectures I conducted in some first semester classes with thw theme of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Ethics: I used the tool Mentimeter to survey 147 students directly in class and asked them “What do you associate with AI?” (fig.1) As a result, terms like” dangerous, future, technology, robots” are the most dominant outcome (the more often a word was entered the bigger it appears). Some others like “computer learning, paradox or prison” are less direct but have a clear feeling in their context.
What new competencies future leaders need in a digitalized world?
A second path was to invite three student groups to contribute through a project task to develop the topic of ethics and digitalization for Karlshochschule as part of their regular project work foreseen in the curriculum: they researched, interviewed experts, reflected for themselves and came up with a proposal on what new competencies students should learn in a digitalized world and how to teach digital skills at Karlshochschule (fig. 2).
The competencies themselves build upon each other and address various challenges from personal, to society, to impact-oriented fields.
For example, one of the core competencies for digital skills is data literacy. Data is widely named as “the fuel of the 21st century”, still many people do not reflect about their own data trail or the use of the data. A study showed that 28% of users in the US do not want their data in the hands of advertisers but this is still the main purpose of most businesses around data (Google, Facebook, …) which are used by nearly all internet users (Boyle 2016 “Its complicated”). So, how can I – as an individual as much as a leader – make sense out of (my) data?
This changes what is demanded from citizens, leaders and managers regarding the awareness of the power of data-based services, as well as automated decision-making systems displaying information. Next, at Karls we will do further research about the implications of these demands and draw conclusions for the future of education.
Another topic to reflect upon will be responsible innovation. Innovation had always been a driver for change but never before it was so easy to reach billions of people around the globe with different cultural backgrounds within a short period of time. Which impact will new technologies have? As internationality is one of the special characteristics of Karls, we will put special emphasis on the global impact of innovation and how to navigate it ethically responsible as a leader.
Making SENSE out of these changes, builds on the idea of embodied ethics and thus emancipating the ability to create one’s own critical opinion will be the goal of all learnings related to ethics in digitalization. How can I decide, as a leader, which projects will need to be put on an ethical test?
Article by Lukas Findeisen
At Karlshochschule International University, within the SENSE project Lukas Findeisen is responsible to develop this topic further, connect it to service learning and foster civic engagement. Lukas himself contributed (and is contributing) to various international service learning projects aiming to create a more just and peaceful world through intercultural education. He studied medical engineering at the Universities of Tuebingen and Stuttgart.