Technology Governance Curriculum

Innovative governance and technology law curriculum

A student-focused multidisciplinary approach to technology law instruction

Wide shot of many student around fountain and greenspace
Professor Gus Hurwitz Speaking in front of a red wall

About the Curriculum

Beginning in the fall semester of 2021, the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center launched its new Technology Governance curriculum. This curriculum is designed to be integrated and modular, meaning that students are free to take any selection of classes on a stand-alone basis but that the classes are designed to consciously complement each other. The cornerstone of the curriculum is the three-week Concepts class, which is a pre-requisite to all other Technology Governance classes. All of these classes are taught at the College of Law, but classes are open to all graduate students at the University of Nebraska and may be open to advanced undergraduates on a case-by-case basis.

“Unaware of what a tort is and aware enough to know there are many similarly fundamental legal terms I am ignorant of, I have been embarrassed to discuss anything related to law around my law school friends. In the three weeks of this course, we knocked out a lot of low-hanging fruit (from important and interesting technology law topics, to basic legal theory, to the general structure of the legal system). The high-level overview provided in this course served to be powerfully elucidating for my general understanding of law and technology law and also served as a valuable springboard into the Cyberlaw course I subsequently took. Furthermore, given my background as a computer science PhD student, I did not anticipate covering basic technology concepts would be all that useful. However, I found even this part of the curriculum to be quite valuable in helping me calibrate what levels of abstractions of technology concepts were generally useful for studying technology law. While I am nowhere near an expert in technology law, and clearly never expected to be from this course, I am now able to better engage in conversation with my peers in law school, and I now better understand the path to becoming an expert in technology law.” - Colton Harper, Computer Science PhD Student

Core NGTC Courses

Technology Governance and Regulation -- Concepts (1cr, pass/no pass): This single credit, pass/fail class offers an introduction to law and technology concepts. It is offered at the beginning of each semester and is open to all students and serves as a foundation for other courses in the technology governance curriculum. It starts by introducing technical concepts, such as how computers and the Internet work, in a manner accessible to all students. It then continues with foundational legal concepts, such as the First and Fourth Amendments. The third portion of the class introduces regulatory concepts such as administrative and antitrust law. This course is available to online LLM students.

Fall 2022: (weeks 1-2), M/W/F 3-5pm

Spring 2023: January Term, M/W/F Time TBD

Cyberlaw: Jurisdiction and Laws Governing Users (2 cr): This course explores a range of legal issues that arise online, focusing on how the law applies online and affects users. Topics include civil and criminal jurisdictional and choice of law issues, such as what states’ and countries’ laws apply to activities that occur on a global platform, and how do those jurisdictions enforce their laws on users and companies around the world. The course also considers a range of specific substantive issues such as online contract formation, basic regulation of encryption, the operation and history of Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act, and domestic surveillance topics such as the Wiretap and Stored Communications Acts, 4th Amendment topics, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Pre-requisite: Technology Governance and Regulation: Concepts

Fall 2022:  M/W 1:30-2:30pm

Spring 2023: TBD

Platforms: Networks and Infrastructure (2 cr): This course introduces students to the legal, policy, economic, and technological issues surrounding the regulation of communications networks and infrastructure. The course is structured primarily around the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and related laws and covers topics including regulation of broadcast radio and television, cable and satellite television, the telephone network, cellular and wireless communications, and the Internet. Several themes will be explored throughout the course, including the operation of regulatory agencies and administrative law, First Amendment issues relating to the regulation of speech on these networks, the relationship between antitrust and regulation, the role of regulation in promoting technological innovation, the economics of bundling and of network industries, and the social and distributive challenges of providing universal access to communications networks. Discussion will use current topics as case studies.  Pre-requisite: Technology Governance and Regulation: Concepts.

Fall 2022: Weeks 8-14

Spring 2023: TBD

Platforms: Speech and Media* (2 cr): This course deals with the law and practice of content governance in both online and more traditional media. The course begins with an overview of basic First Amendment principles, and then proceeds to more specific doctrines concerning the regulation of various types of sensitive subject matter including incitement, hate speech, pornography, and misinformation. The course will then examine the content governance practices of privately-owned online platforms. The course will examine the First Amendment and statutory doctrines that shield and protect the editorial and content governance practices of various types of intermediaries—newspapers, broadcasters, cable providers, search engines, social platforms, and online platforms more generally. Finally, the course will discuss various levers of state influence over platforms’ handline of third-party content. This course is available to online LLM students.Pre-requisite: Technology Governance and Regulation: Concepts.

Fall 2022: Th/F, 10:30-11:30am

Spring 2023: TBD

Privacy: Informational, Reputational, and Dignitary Harms (2 cr): This course provides an introduction to the laws and regulations that govern information privacy in the United States and around the world and the struggles of protecting individual privacy in the modern era. A central focus is on the meaning of informational, reputational, and dignitary harms. The course considers the Constitutional, common law, and statutory mechanisms that control access to and use of information about individuals; the broad and often conflicting definitions of and principles behind these mechanisms; and different institutional approaches to regulating access to personal information, from self-regulation to criminal law, from states and localities to international treaty. Evaluation by exam or other written assignments. Pre-requisite: Technology Governance and Regulation: Concepts.

Spring 2023: Days and Time TBD

Cybersecurity and Sectoral Data Regulation (2 cr): This class provides an introduction to various legal frameworks relating to data- and cybersecurity, such as data breach notification laws, regulatory data security requirements such as contained in HIPAA and GLBA, and the patchwork of statute and common law tools available for addressing cybersecurity concerns. It also prepares students to interact with professionals in other fields relevant to cybersecurity practice, and broader policy discussions about cybersecurity law and policy. Pre-requisite: Technology Governance and Regulation: Concepts.

Spring 2023: Days and Time TBD

Technology Governance Workshop (Special Topics in Technology Governance)* (2 cr): More details to come.

Fall 2022: Tuesdays, 3-5pm

Spring 2023: Tuesdays, 3-5pm

Law students may be able to take classes marked with a * as a 3cr writing seminar.

More Details

Starting in fall 2022, students who have completed 5 credits from this curriculum will also be able to enroll in year-long seminar and workshop classes in which students will discuss current academic and other scholarly research relating to Technology Governance.

Students interested in these topics may also be interested in a range of other classes taught by Center-affiliated faculty or at the College of Law. Such classes include topics such as intellectual property law; administrative, antitrust, and other forms of regulatory law; the whole panoply of international law courses, including trade and human rights; and courses offered as part of the Space, Cyber, and Telecom Law program such as Spectrum Law and Space & Satellite Business Law.

For further information, including how to enroll in these classes, students should contact their registrar or the center's executive director, Elsbeth Magilton, at the College of Law. For more information on curriculum at Nebraska Law and registration please visit their current student page.

Students from outside of the College of Law who are interested in these classes should contact center director, Gus Hurwitz (ghurwitz@unl.edu) or Elsbeth Magilton (elsbeth@unl.edu).