What <digital> spaces do we live in?

The Research Cluster ‘Cyber<>Spaces: Discourse, Co-creation and Institutions in the era of digitalisation’, which is currently being established, will create a unique forum for interdisciplinary basic research on one of the greatest challenges of our time: the societal implications of digitalisation. Some 76 professors from the University of Passau and worldwide, representing the academic disciplines of cultural studies, business and economics, are involved in the Cluster, complemented by expertise from computer science, law and psychology. This position at the intersection of cultural studies, business and economics – a hallmark of the University of Passau – enriches digitalisation research by providing a novel perspective.

These are the research areas


Student looking at mobile







Our shared space

The participating scholars are united in their realisation that the most pressing issues of digitalisation stem from the cultural, economic, cognitive and legal contexts that precede, form, adapt to, and enact this transformation. The diametric arrow in Cyber<>Spaces stands for the interactions between the real world and the virtual one. The three research areas ‘Discourse<>Co-creation<>Institutions’ are dependent on each other, as discourse creates co-creation, which in turn creates institutions. Ultimately, there are four overarching characteristics, four hyper-references, which define the research areas:

  • Hyper-localisation: Digitalisation transcends existing territorial borders. This phenomenon challenges fundamental assumptions of cultural studies and linguistics, but also of the legal system and management research.
  • Hyper-simultaneity: In the Cybersphere, we can exist in several spaces simultaneously. The competition is just one click away. This promotes competition; but it could also require new economic and legal models.
  • Hyper-transparency: The internet has significantly lowered barriers to information access, enabling direct communication and making decisions transparent. At the same time it gives rise to phenomena such as ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’, eroding people’s trust in existing institutions.
  • Hyper-individualisation: Learning algorithms present filtered online resources to the user, such as search results, social media posts, advertisements or news. This can give rise to ‘filter bubbles’ and ‘echo chambers’, which have a subtle effect on our view of the world.

Cyber<>Spaces<>University of Passau

The University of Passau has forged ahead with conducting science for the networked society since 2011. Examples of this are the Technik Plus development programme, the DFG-funded interdisciplinary Research Training Group Privacy and Digitalization, the successful proposals for funding lines from Center Digitisation.Bavaria (two Junior Research Groups and one Chair) and the University’s leading role in academic networks such as INDIGO and the East-Bavarian Centre of Internet Competence.

Cyber<>Spaces represents the pinnacle of the University’s academic and structural development to date. The Cluster uses the comprehensive structural and personnel developments of recent years, including a profound generation change in the faculties, building on and and developing the international, interdisciplinary research profile of the University of Passau, which is geared towards basic research. The Cluster promotes the work of early career researchers – particularly of postdoctoral female academics – and will establish co-operative partnerships with an international orientation at the University.

With Cyber<>Spaces the University is taking a big step towards realising the University’s vision to become one of Europe’s leading centres of basic research in the societal implications of digitalisation by 2028, the University’s 50th anniversary.

Our Spokespersons

Professor Rüdiger Harnisch
Prof. Dr. Andreas König

Cyber<>Spaces in figures

international research partners
scholars with an interdisciplinary mindset
rooms at the University of Passau and any number of digital spaces

Participating professors

Professor Sven Apel
Professor Stefan Bauernschuster
Professor Carolin Häussler
Professor Hans Krah
Professor Susanne Mayr
Professor Martina Padmanabhan
Professor Ursula Reutner
Prof. Dr. Louisa Specht
Professor Björn Schuller
Professor Dirk Uffelmann
Professor Daniela Wawra
Professor Thomas Widjaja

What's new with Cyber<>Spaces?

Researchers advise against non-discrimination obligations for big online platforms

Researchers advise against non-discrimination obligations for big online platforms

The conclusion: probably not. ‘The economic literature shows no clear negative effects of such discriminatory practices on overall welfare...

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Gender, climate, environment

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Chatting in natural language

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Communication through digital channels is a bit like having a typed conversation. Dialects might stand to benefit from this fact, believes Professor Rüdiger Harnisch...

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