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Theresa Züger, Dr.

Theresa Züger is head of the Public Interest AI research group funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The group is concerned with the question of how AI can serve the public interest and which technical and social criteria must be fulfilled for this to happen. She is also co-lead of the AI & Society Lab. The Lab was launched by HIIG in 2020 and is an inter- and transdisciplinary research lab at the intersection of academia, industry and civil society. Theresa’s research focuses on the political dimensions of digital technologies and cultures, with particular interest in questions of democratic theory. 

Previously, she headed the office of the Third Engagement Report from the Federal Government on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), which focuses on the digitalization of civic engagement. For the Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg, she developed and managed the Media Policy Lab, a project on science networking in the field of intermediary regulation.

In 2017, Theresa received her PhD in Media Studies from the Humboldt University of Berlin. Her PhD, “Reload Disobedience“, focuses on digital forms of civil disobedience. During her PhD, Theresa was a research assistant in the research area “Global Constitutionalism and the Internet” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Ingolf Pernice. In 2016, she curated and moderated for transmediale, a festival for media art and digital culture, on the thematic field of security politics and culture. 

In 2013 she was a Visiting Researcher at the Berkeley Center for New Media at the University of California, Berkeley and in 2017 a Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Internet Studies. She is part of the scientific council of the Acatech TechnikRadar and a member of the commission of the Digital Transformation Think Tank of the German Caritas Association.

Theresa Züger


Co-Lead: AI & Society Lab | Lead of Research Group Public Interest AI

Journal articles and conference proceedings

Bernstein, A., Vreese, C., Helberger, N., Schulz, W., Zweig, K., Baden, C. & Züger, T. (2020). Diversity in News Recommendation. Cornell University. Publication details

Züger, T., Milan, S., & Tanczer L. (2016). Sand in the Information Society Machine: How Digital Technologies Change and Challenge the Paradigms of Civil Disobedience. Fibreculture Journal: internet theory criticism research, 25. Publication details

Züger, T. (2014). Digitaler ziviler Ungehorsam. Spurensuche der Dissidenz im digitalen Zeitalter. Juridikum: Zeitschrift für Kritik - Recht - Gesellschaft, 4/2014, 472-482. Publication details

Saldías, O. & Züger, T. (2013). The good, the bad, and the ugly: A pragmatic approach for revisiting ethics and Internet politics. Acta Bioethica, 19(1), 59-70. Publication details

Züger, T. (2013). Digital Whoness oder vom Unterschied zwischen Was und Wer: Digitale Ontologie und Privatheit aus interkultureller Perspektive. FIfF-Kommunikation, 13(2), 54–57. Publication details

Züger, T. (2013). Re-thinking civil disobedience. Internet Policy Review, 2(4). Publication details

Book contributions and chapters

Bieber, C., Hofmann, J., Grünewald-Schukalla, L., & Züger, T. (2020). Engagement und digitale Plattformen: Plattformisierung des Engagements? In Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, Dritter Engagementbericht - Zukunft Zivilgesellschaft: Junges Engagement im digitalen Zeitalter. Bundestagsdrucksache 19/19320. (pp. 119-131). Berlin: Bundesanzeiger Verlag GmbH. Publication details

Bieber, C., Hofmann, J., Hüther, M., & Züger, T. (2020). Zum Dritten Engagementbericht. In Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, Dritter Engagementbericht - Zukunft Zivilgesellschaft: Junges Engagement im digitalen Zeitalter. Bundestagsdrucksache 19/19320. (pp. 42-51). Berlin: Bundesanzeiger Verlag GmbH. Publication details

Züger, T. (2017). Digitale Dissidenz. In Daase, C., Deitelhoff, N., Kamis, B., Pfister, J., & Wallmeier, P. (Eds.), Herrschaft in den Internationalen Beziehungen (pp. 179-200). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Publication details

Züger, T., Milan, S. & Tanczer, L.M. (2017). Sand im Gertriebe der Informationsgesellschaft: Wie digitale Technologien die Paradigmen des Zivilen Ungehorsams herausfordern und verändern. In D. Jacob, T. Thiel, Politische Theorie und Digitalisierung (pp. 265-296). Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG. Publication details

Working paper

Hofmann, J. & Züger, T. (2019). Es geht um die Welt. Geschäftsstelle des Dritten Engagementberichts. Publication details

Other publications

Züger, T. & Henn, J. (2021). Roundtable-Dialoge für die Zukunft der KI in Europa. Digital society blog. Publication details

Züger, T. (2020). “KI stellt uns nicht nur vor technische Fragen, sondern auch vor gesellschaftliche.”. #ki_berlin. Publication details

Züger, T. (2019). Podcast: Digitales ziviles Ungehorsam. Exploring digital spheres – Ein Podcast des HIIG, Episode 22. Publication details

Züger, T. (2017). Reload Disobedience: Ziviler Ungehorsam im Zeitalter digitaler Medien. Doctoral Dissertation, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Publication details

Züger, T. (2017). Die Wahrheit und ihre neuen Kleider. Polar (22), 99-104. Publication details

Haase, A. & Züger, T. (2016). Mit dem BKA ins hacktivistische Dunkelfeld. Publication details

Haase, A. & Züger, T. (2016). BKA: “Den Hacker gibt es nicht. Wir sollten ihn erfinden.”. Publication details

Haase, A., Züger, T. (2015). Hacktivismus = Cybercrime? Eine Replik auf die Studie des BKA zu Hacktivisten. Publication details

Züger, T. (2015). Whistleblowing – Das neue Spiel um die Macht der Information. Das Netz, 38-43. Publication details

Züger, T. (2014). Civil Disobedience. An International Issue. Publication details

Züger, T. (2013). Lying in politics: Thoughts about Edward Snowden and the illusion of control. The Rabbit Hole. Theorizing Communications Governance. Publication details

Lectures and presentations

Digital Disobedience
Ringvorlesung WiSe 2019/20: Selbstbestimmung in der vernetzten Gesellschaft. Weizenbaum-Institute. Technische Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 28.01.2020 Further information

Theresa Züger

Junges Engagement: Bestandsaufnahme, Potentiale und Herausforderungen
Wir für Klima, Demokratie und Gerechtigkeit!. Zukunft Bildung Schleswig Holstein, Landesbeauftragter für politische Bildung. Landeshaus, Kiel, Deutschland: 17.01.2020 Further information

Theresa Züger

Wekstattgespräch Demokratie im digitalen Kontext. Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission. Futurium, Berlin, Deutschland: 27.09.2019 Further information

Theresa Züger

Forum II: Auf dem Weg zur Digital Literacy im Engagement. Stiftung Bürger für Bürger. Schloss Diedersdorf, Diedersdorf, Deutschland: 03.05.2019 Further information

Theresa Züger

Symposium: The Relevance of Culture in the Age of AI (Session: The Relevance of Culture in the Age of AI). Goethe-Institut Sydney. Goethe-Institut Sydney, Sydney, Australia: 08.03.2019 Further information

Theresa Züger

#1 Mensch und Kultur im Wandel des Digitalen
Netzdialoge (Session: Philosophie des Digitalen). Christian Uhle. Brecht-Haus Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 18.10.2018 Further information

Theresa Züger


Dreams of Electric Sheep: #WTF 3000
Musikalisch-theatrale Talkshow. Radialsystem Berlin. Radialsystem, Berlin, Germany: 05.04.2019 Further information

Theresa Züger

Media@Sydney: Digital Rights in an Age of Surveillance AI
Media@Sydney: Digital Rights in an Age of Surveillance AI. The University of Sidney. University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia: 07.03.2019 Further information

Theresa Züger

The Human and the Machine
The Human and the Machine. Soho House, Berlin, Germany: 24.05.2018 Further information

Theresa Züger

Opending Fireside Chat with Chelsea Manning
re:publica 2018. re:publica. Station Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 02.05.2018 Further information

Theresa Züger

Human creativity and empathy in a second machine age
Symposium. Kunztschule, Berlin, Germany: 14.07.2017 Further information

Theresa Züger

Evidence of Conspiracy
Samizdata: Evidence of Conspiracy. Disruption Network Lab. Kunstraum Bethanien, Berlin, Germany: 11.09.2015

Theresa Züger

Moderation of workshops and panels

Workshop #engagierdichglücklich. Tincon e.V.. Kühlhaus Berlin, Berlin, Deutschland: 07.05.2019 Further information

Theresa Züger

Slacktivism, activism and protest online. Does the Internet have what it takes to be political?
Early Stage Researchers Colloquium. Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Berlin, Berlin, Germany: 21.11.2013

Theresa Züger

Organisation of events

Analysing the digital society / Gesellschaftsanalyse
From 01.04.2019 to 12.07.2019. Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Deutschland (National)

Theresa Züger

Civil Disobedience Beyond the State III: The Right of Resistance in a Globalised World
with attending Vip: Prof. Karuna Mantena. From 24.11.2015 to 25.11.2015. Nuffield College, 1 New Road, Oxford, Oxford, UK. Co-Organised by: Annette Zimmermann (University of Oxford), Robin Celikates (University of Amsterdam), This conference has been organised with the generous financial support of Nuffield College, the Amsterdam Center for Globalisation Studies, the NWO-funded project ‘Transformations of Civil Disobedience’ and the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. (International)

Theresa Züger

Weapons of the Geek (The Digitalization of Disobedience from Whistleblowing to Anonymous)
International Workshop: Civil Disobedience Beyond the State II. with attending Vip: Gabriella Coleman. From 08.05.2015 to 09.05.2015. ACUD e.V. und Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Co-Organised by: Robin Celikates, Amsterdam; Annette Zimmermann; Oxford (International)

Theresa Züger

Civil Disobedience beyond the State
Civil Disobedience beyond the State. with attending Vip: Robin Celikates, Annette Zimmerman, Kimberly Brownlee, James Ingram, Jeff Juris, Jacob Appelbaum. From 30.10.2014 to 31.10.2014. Department of Philosophy, Faculteitskamer, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Co-Organised by: Robin Celikates (University of Amsterdam), Annette Zimmermann (University of Oxford) (International)

Theresa Züger

From Disobedient Practices to Global Governance Arrangements: Academic perspectives on digital phenomena
Discussion at the HIIG as part of the Federal Foreign Office's Visitors' Program. 07.08.2014. Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany (International)

Kirsten Gollatz, Rüdiger Schwarz, Osvaldo Saldías, Theresa Züger

Digitaler ziviler Ungehorsam
Masterseminar HU Berlin im Fachbereich Medienwissenschaft. From 28.04.2014 to 14.07.2014. Humboldt Universtität zu Berlin, Institut für Medienwissenschaft, Berlin, Germany. Co-Organised by: Institut für Medienwissenschaft, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (National)

Theresa Züger

Demonstrate and Disobey. Protest and Civil Disobedience On and Offline (Round Table)
RightsCon 2013. with attending Vip: Hanni Fakoury, Geoffrey King, Burak Arikan. From 03.03.2014 to 04.03.2014. Silicon Valley, San Francisco, United States of America. Co-Organised by: Access (International)

Theresa Züger


Advisory Board Politics&Society Programm Track re:publica 19.

Theresa Züger

Begleitkreis des TechnikRadars der Acatech.

Theresa Züger

Gesellschaft für Informatik: KI-Newcomer*innen 2021.

Theresa Züger

Participation as expert

Kick-Off Workshop des Civics Innovation Hub Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Berlin, Deutschland: 29.05.2019

Theresa Züger

Diversity, Fairness, and Data-Driven Personalization in (News)Recommender System Dagstuhl Perspective Workshop Schloss Dagstuhl Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik. Schloss Dagstuhl, Dagstuhl, Deutschland: 25.11.2019 Further information

Theresa Züger

Digitaler ziviler Ungehorsam
Institut für Widerstand im Postfordismus Keynot: Digital civil disobedience Label Müller. Vierte Welt, Berlin, Germany: 12.06.2015

Theresa Züger

Media appearances

Das Co-Design des Gemeinwohls (19.04.2021). Wikimedia
Further information

Das Recht auf Widerstand (20.09.2019). Südwind

Ziviler Ungehorsam gehört zur Demokratie (18.04.2019). Deutschlandfunk Nova
Further information

re:publica 2018: Chelsea Manning – von Diskriminierung in der digitalen Welt (02.05.2018). WDR
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Vom Ungehorsam des freien Menschen (02.05.2018). Frankfurter Allgemeine
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Was ist die Seele? (21.12.2017). ZEIT Magazin
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Hacktivists keep refugees online in dead zone Germany (07.07.2016). Newsweek
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Radio format (25.03.2015). DRadio Wissen
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Theresa Züger on Digital Civil Disobedience (09.08.2013). Research Interview by Ben Wagner for the Digital Freedoms Project