SemesterFall Semester, 2023
DepartmentThe International Master Program of Applied Economics and Social Development (IMES) , First Year The International Master Program of Applied Economics and Social Development (IMES) , Second Year
Course NameGlobal Digital Divide: Big Tech, Inequality, and Polarization
Course TypeElective
Course Objective
Course Description
Course Schedule

Schedule of Classes

Introduction: The Rise of Big Tech Around the World

September 13: Introduction - The Rise of Big Tech

                        Session 1: Introduction to Course / Meet Your Professors

                        Session 2: Survey - What Do We Think?

September 20: The Digital Divide - A Tech Cold War Between the U.S and China

                        Prep Before Class: Bain Technology Report 2022; SCMP China Internet Report 2022

                        Session 3: Reading Discussion

                        Session 4: Understanding the Technology Cold War

Silicon Valley and China’s Business Culture and Approach to Global Growth

September 27: The View from Silicon Valley and its Quest for Monopoly Power

                        Prep Before Class: Zero to One by Peter Thiel

                        Session 5: Reading Discussion

                        Session 6: Applying Business Concepts to Technology

October 4: Building a Global Internet Platform at Scale

                  Prep Before Class: Amazon Shareholder Letter 2020+1997; Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos


                 Session 7: Reading Discussion

                 Session 8: The Power of Scale in the Digital Economy

October 11: How China’s Internet Leaders See the World

                    Prep Before Class: Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark or Crocodile in the Yangtze


                    Session 9: Reading Discussion

                    Session 10: Guest Interview - Shirley Lin, first Alibaba investor

October 18: Into the Lagoon: China’s Response to U.S. Tech Competition

                    Prep Before Class: NY Times - How China is Changing Your Internet; Seizing Core Technologies by Adam Segal

                    Session 11: Reading Discussion

                    Session 12: The WSJ Investigative Reporter’s Guide to Research

October 25: EU-Taiwan Commission on TikTok Safety and Security

                    Prep Before Class:

                    Session 13: Reading Discussion + Preparation for Huawei Hearing Session 14: Commission Hearing on TikTok


November 1: Emerging Taiwan Media Voices and Chinese Disinformation Efforts

                      Prep Before Class: Ghost Island Media Podcasts and WSJ article on China disinformation

                      Session 15: Guest Interview – Emily Y. Wu - Ghost Island Media

                      Session 16: Guest Interview – Joyu Wang – The Wall Street Journal

                      Due November 7 noon: ”Billion Dollar Bet” assignment

November 8: Investing Amid the Global Digital Divide

                      Prep Before Class: Review “Billion Dollar Bet” for Q&A

                     Session 17: Guest Portfolio Manager Q&A

                     Session 18: Guest PM Q&A Pt. 2

The Impact of Big Tech’s Rise on Business, Society and Politics

November 15: Government and Policy: Technology, Data, and Crisis Preparation

                        Prep Before Class: The Fifth Risk excerpt by Michael Lewis

                        Session 19: Reading Discussion

                        Session 20: Introduction to The Briefing Group Project

November 22: Data and Privacy: Secrets and Surveillance in the Digital Age

                        Prep Before Class: Edward Snowden podcast (Part One + Two; United States of Secrets documentary (Part One

                       + Two)

                        Session 21: Reading Discussion

                        Session 22: TBD

November 29: China’s Surveillance State: Social Control and Big Tech

                        Prep Before Class: Surveillance State book excerpt

                        Session 23: Reading Discussion

                        Session 24: Guest Interview

December 6: Making Money: Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

                     Prep Before Class: The Meaning of Decentralization; Bitcoin: A Peer-to- Peer Electronic Cash System

                     Session 25: Reading Discussion

                     Session 26: Guest Interview

December 13: Taiwan’s Semiconductor Industry: Observations on Today and Tomorrow

                       Session 27: Lecture on Semiconductor Industry in Taiwan

                       Session 28: Student Q&A with Prof. Carew

Global Digital Divide

December 20: Alphabet Anti-Trust Hearing

                       Session 29: Reading Discussion + Preparation for Alphabet Hearing

                       Session 30: Hearing on Alphabet Exercise

December 27: Student Presentations (Pt. 1)

                       Session 31: The Briefing Final Project Presentations (Pt. 1)

                       Session 32: Q&A

January 3: Lessons Learned: Assessing Big Tech’s Future

                 Session 35: Student Presentations (Pt. 2)

                 Session 36: The Big Course Takeaways - Your Views Now vs. Then

We look forward to a great semester and appreciate you signing up for the course.

Teaching Methods
Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistant Information




There will be no final exam, but rather a series of assignments and projects over the course of the semester. This makes it essential for you to stay engaged throughout the course.

Grading will be as follows:

Weekly Reading Takeaways 20%

Congressional Hearing Exercises 20%

Individual Assignment - The Billion Dollar Bet 20%

Group Project - The Briefing 20%

Engagement + Contribution to Learning 20%

Total: 100%

Weekly Reading Takeaways

In preparation for each class session students are expected to digest the readings and prepare five key takeaways they consider surprising or essential. These should be well-composed and re- searched, including additional outside research to support your takeaway.

The five weekly reading takeaways must be submitted online by 5pm Tuesday the day before the class session discussing that topic and be no longer than one-page in 12pt font. Your professors will review them before class, so it is essential that you submit them on time.

We will open most classes with a brief discussion of current news events, followed by a longer discussion guided by the takeaways and additional notes you have prepared in advance. I will post on the screen at the beginning of class the key themes for our reading discussion and guide our conversation by asking students to discuss their related prepared points from the reading takeaways.

At the end of each class session, we will spend 5-10 minutes giving a preview of the readings for the upcoming class and answer any questions about the week ahead.

Congressional Hearing Exercises:

During the semester, we will do two roleplaying exercise - the Hearings of TikTok and Alphabet - to consider the business implications of national security and antitrust policy. Students will be able to sign up for different roles - serving as a witness, prosecution counsel, defense counsel, or senator. I will provide a handout on detailed expectations for this assignment.

”The Billion Dollar Bet” - Individual Paper:

Building on the material from the first half of the course, students will be asked to compare the business model and financial prospects of companies from Silicon Valley and other technology hubs. You have been hired by the portfolio manager of a major global hedge fund to perform a comparative analysis to inform her investment decision. You, the analyst, are asked to investigate a pairing of companies with similar business models (e.g. e-commerce: Amazon + Alibaba; social media: Facebook + Tencent) and prepare an investment memorandum on which company she should invest $1 billion of their $20 billion dollar fund. The investment memorandum must display an understanding of the companies’ current business model, leadership, future potential, and risks. You are asked to particularly consider how well the company will fare as they grow internationally, considering potential regulatory and cultural challenges. We will provide a handout on detailed expectations for this assignment.

“The Briefing” Group Project:

For “The Briefing” group project, students will work with their learning team to prepare the presentation. Your group, a team of global researchers, has been tasked to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee by writing a policy brief/essay on a case study illustrating the Global Digital Divide. You will have to prepare a written briefing/essay and create a website to share the lessons learned that 1) shows a deep understanding of the problem and its impact on the local community 2) proposes or illustrates an innovative solution that benefits the company’s stakeholders and business prospects 3) develops a practical strategy to address anticipated regulatory and social problems going forward both locally and globally. You may find examples created by previous students at

Class Preparation:

My expectation is that you will spend an average of six hours per week (in addition to class time) on this course. This includes readings, research and preparing “Key Takeaways.” You are expected to be an active reader of the course material, both digesting and challenging the views of the authors we read. When we have a guest speaker, you are expected to review their biography and public writings, as well as prepare informed questions. Please prepare three thoughtful and well-researched questions to be submitted via Moodle by noon Tuesday before our class session with a guest speaker.

In the workplace you will undoubtedly encounter information overload and I will provide a large volume of reading and materials that are resources for your learning. I do not expect every student to read every word of the material provided. In the course, I want you to hone the skill of sorting through information to identify what matters and can inform your understanding and our discussion. I will not test your knowledge of every point of fact. This course is meant to provoke thought and develop critical thinking skills rather than serve as a “gotcha” exercise to ensure you have read each page or chapter. If you are struggling with managing the reading workload, please reach out to me and we can discuss strategies together.

In addition to the course material, you are expected to stay current on news in the technology industry by reading a range of sources (e.g., The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist, Bloomberg and tech blogs). I highly recommend the free and easy-to-use Congressional Research Service Reports ( service, which provides briefings on a wide range of topics we will cover. Preparing in groups is encouraged.

Engagement and Contribution to Learning:

Student engagement is crucial to include valuable student perspectives in our discussion and develop critical thinking and communication skills in a professional and supportive setting.

Active student engagement is a must for both overall course and individual student success. As part of the learning process, I expect students to be ‘all-in’ during class, take intellectual risks, and strive to communicate thoughtfully and effectively. Laptops, tablets, phones and other electronic devices are generally not permitted in the classroom unless required for certain assignments. Please ensure that all devices are turned off and put away before class begins.

Course Materials:

We will prepare for each session with a combination of books, news articles, and video material to prompt discussion. These materials are outlined in this syllabus, which will be updated via Blackboard as the course progresses.

Attendance Policy:

Attendance at all class sessions is expected and required; anticipated absences must be communicated via email in advance to our teaching assistants except in unforeseen circumstances.

Textbook & Reference
Urls about Course