Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2021

GESS Science in Perspective Information
Only the courses listed below will be recognized as "GESS Science in Perspective" courses.

Further below you will find courses under the category "Type B courses Reflections about subject specific methods and content" as well as the language courses.

During the Bachelor’s degree Students should acquire at least 6 ECTS and during the Master’s degree 2 ECTS.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
Type B: Reflection About Subject-Specific Methods and Contents
Subject-specific courses: Recommended for bachelor students after their first-year examination and for all master- or doctoral students.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the same course again.

All these courses are listed under the category “Typ A”, this means, every student can enroll in these courses.
851-0101-01LIntroduction to Practical Philosophy
Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT, D-MATL
W3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractPractical philosophy deals in a descriptive and evaluative way with the realm of the practical, that is, with action, practices, norms of action, and values held by people and societies. Ethics and political philosophy are branches of practical philosophy. This introductory course will treat some of the main questions and introduce students to the thinking of central figures in the field.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course, students (1) will be familiar with still highly influential answers to some of the main questions (see below, section "contents") in practical philosophy. (2) They will be able to better evaluate how convincing these answers are. (3) Students' own thinking concerning normative, e.g., ethical issues, will be more precise, due to a more sophisticated use of key concepts such as good, right, morality, law, freedom, etc.
ContentEthics is an account and instruction of the good, that could be reached by conscious, intentional behaviour (=action). Ethics is an essential part of practical philosophy. Therefore one of those central questions, which will be discussed in the course, is:

1. What is the meaning of words like "good" and "bad", used in ethical language? What is meant by "good", if one says: "Working as a volunteer for the <Red Cross> is good"? Does one mean, that doing so is useful, or that it is altruistic, or that is fair?

Further questions, to be discussed in the course, are:

2. Are moral judgements apt to be justified, e.g. judgments like "Lower taxes for rich foreigners in the <Kanton Zug> are unjust" or "Every person ought to be entitled to leave any religious community"? If so, how far a moral judgment's justification can reach? Is one right in arguing: "It is possible to show the truth of the proposition (a):The emissions of nitrogen dioxide in Zurich is far beyond the permissible limit (80 mg/m3). But it is not possible to verify the proposition (b): In our times, the inequal global distribution of wealth is far beyond the permissible limit. Proposition (a) states an objective fact, whereas (b) expresses a mere subjective evaluation, though that evaluation might be widely spread.

3. What are just laws, and what is the relationship between law and morality?

4. Is freedom of a person, though presupposed by criminal law and morality, nevertheless an illusion?

These questions will be partly discussed with reference to seminal authors within the western philosophical tradition (among else Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant). Contemporary philosophers like Jürgen Habermas, Thomas Nagel, Ernst Tugendhat or Bernard Williams will be included, too.
LiteraturePreparatory Literature:

-Dieter Birnbacher, Analytische Einführung in die Ethik, 2. Aufl. Berlin: de Gruyter Verlag 2006.
- Simon Blackburn, Think. A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, Oxford: University Press (=UP) 1999, chapters 3 und 8.
- Philippa Foot, <Virtues and Vices> in: diess., Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002, and <Morality, Action and Outcome>, in: dies., Moral Dilemmas and Other Topics in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002.
- H.L.A. Hart, <Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals, in: Harvard Law Review 71 (1958), pp. 593-629.
- Detlef Horster, Rechtsphilosophie zur Einführung, Hamburg: Junius Verlag 2002.
- Robert Kane, <Introduction: The Contours of the Contemporary Free Will Debates>, in: ders., (Hg.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Oxford 2002.
– Thomas Nagel, The Limits of Objectivity, in: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values 1980, Vol I., ed. Sterling McMurrin , Cambridge et al.: UP 1980, pp. 75-139.
- Ulrich Pothast, <Einleitung> in: ders., (Hg.), Seminar: Freies Handeln und Determinismus, Frankfurt/M.: suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft 1978, pp. 7-31.
- Bernard Williams, Morality. An Introduction to Ethics, Cambridge: UP (=Canto Series) 1976.
- Peter Winch, The Idea of a Social Science, 4.Aufl. London 1965, ch. II.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be a mixture of lecture and seminar. For getting credit points, essays on given or freely chosen subjects have to be written.
851-0585-38LData Science in Techno-Socio-Economic Systems Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 80

This course is thought be for students in the 5th semester or above with quantitative skills and interests in modeling and computer simulations.

Particularly suitable for students of D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MAVT, D-MTEC, D-PHYS
W3 credits2VD. Helbing, N. Antulov-Fantulin, V. Vasiliauskaite
AbstractThis course introduces how techno-socio-economic systems in our complex society can be better understood with techniques and tools of data science. Students shall learn how the fundamentals of data science are used to give insights into the research of complexity science, computational social science, economics, finance, and others.
ObjectiveThe goal of this course is to qualify students with knowledge on data science to better understand techno-socio-economic systems in our complex societies. This course aims to make students capable of applying the most appropriate and effective techniques of data science under different application scenarios. The course aims to engage students in exciting state-of-the-art scientific tools, methods and techniques of data science.
In particular, lectures will be divided into research talks and tutorials. The course shall increase the awareness level of students of the importance of interdisciplinary research. Finally, students have the opportunity to develop their own data science skills based on a data challenge task, they have to solve, deliver and present at the end of the course.
ContentWill be provided on a separate course webpage.
Lecture notesSlides will be provided.
LiteratureGrus, Joel. "Data Science from Scratch: First Principles with Python". O'Reilly Media, 2019.

"A high-bias, low-variance introduction to machine learning for physicists"

Applications to Techno-Socio-Economic Systems:

"The hidden geometry of complex, network-driven contagion phenomena" (relevant for modeling pandemic spread)

"A network framework of cultural history"

"Science of science"

"Generalized network dismantling"

Further literature will be recommended in the lectures.
Prerequisites / NoticeGood programming skills and a good understanding of probability & statistics and calculus are expected.
851-0708-00LIntroduction to Law
Introduction to Law as GESS Compulsory Elective Course:
Students who have attended or will attend the lecture "Introduction to Law for Architecture" (851-0703-01L), "Introduction to Law for Civil Engineering" (851-0703-03L) or " Introduction to Law" (851-0703-00) , cannot register for this course unit.

Particularly suitable for students of D-HEST, D-MAVT, D-MATL, D-USYS.
W2 credits2VA. Stremitzer
AbstractThis class introduces students to basic features of the legal system. Questions of constitutional and administrative law, contract law, tort law, corporate law, intellectual property law, as well as procedural law are covered.
ObjectiveIntroduction to fundamental questions of public and private law which serves as a foundation for more advanced law classes.
Content1. Öffentliches Recht
Staatsrecht: Funktion und Quellen des Rechts, Aufbau und Organisation des Staates, Grundrechte, Grundzüge des Völker- und Europarechts. Verwaltungsrecht: Verwaltungsverhältnis, Verfügung, Verwaltungsorganisation, Durchsetzung des Verwaltungsrechts, Verwaltungsverfahrensrecht, Grundzüge des Polizei-, Umwelt- und Raumplanungsrechts.

2. Privatrecht
Vertragsrecht: Vertragsfreiheit, Vertragsentstehung, -erfüllung und -verletzung, Grundzüge des Kauf- und Mietvertrags. Haftungsrecht: Verschuldenshaftung und Kausalhaftung, Beschränkung der Haftung. Grundzüge des Gesellschafts,- Immaterialgüter- und Zivilprozessrechts.
LiteratureWeiterführende Informationen sind auf der Moodle-Lernumgebung zur Vorlesung erhältlich (s.
851-0732-03LIntellectual Property: An Introduction Information Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 150

Particularly suitable for students of D-ARCH, D-BIOL, D-CHAB, D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MAVT, D- MATL, D-MTEC.
W2 credits2VS. Bechtold, R. Zingg
AbstractThe course introduces students to the basics of the intellectual property system and of innovation policy. Areas covered include patent, copyright, trademark, design, know-how protection, open source, and technology transfer. The course looks at Swiss, European, U.S. and international law and uses examples from a broad range of technologies. Insights can be used in academia, industry or start-ups.
ObjectiveIntellectual property issues become more and more important in our society. In order to prepare students for their future challenges in research, industry or start-ups, this course introduces them to the foundations of the intellectual property system. The course covers patent, copyright, trademark, design, know-how protection, open source, and technology transfer law. It explains links to contract, antitrust, Internet, privacy and communications law where appropriate. While the introduction to these areas of the law is designed at a general level, examples and case studies come from various jurisdictions, including Switzerland, the European Union, the United States, and international law.

In addition, the course introduces students to the fundamentals of innovation policy. After exposing students to the economics of intellectual property protection, the course asks questions such as: Why do states grant property rights in inventions? Has the protection of intellectual property gone too far? How do advances in biotechnology and the Internet affect the intellectual property system? What is the relationship between open source, open access and intellectual property? What alternatives to intellectual property protection exist?

Knowing how the intellectual property system works and what kind of protection is available is useful for all students who are interested in working in academia, industry or in starting their own company. Exposing students to the advantages and disadvantages of the intellectual property system enables them to participate in the current policy discussions on intellectual property, innovation and technology law. The course will include practical examples and case studies as well as guest speakers from industry and private practice.
227-0664-00LTechnology and Policy of Electrical Energy StorageW3 credits2GV. Wood, T. Schmidt
AbstractWith the global emphasis on decreasing CO2 emissions, achieving fossil fuel independence and growing the use of renewables, developing & implementing energy storage solutions for electric mobility & grid stabilization represent a key technology & policy challenge. This course uses lithium ion batteries as a case study to understand the interplay between technology, economics, and policy.
ObjectiveThe students will learn of the complexity involved in battery research, design, production, as well as in investment, economics and policy making around batteries. Students from technical disciplines will gain insights into policy, while students from social science backgrounds will gain insights into technology.
ContentWith the global emphasis on decreasing CO2 emissions, achieving fossil fuel independence, and integrating renewables on the electric grid, developing and implementing energy storage solutions for electric mobility and grid stabilization represent a key technology and policy challenge. The class will focus on lithium ion batteries since they are poised to enter a variety of markets where policy decisions will affect their production, adoption, and usage scenarios. The course considers the interplay between technology, economics, and policy.

* intro to energy storage for electric mobility and grid-stabilization
* basics of battery operation, manufacturing, and integration
* intro to the role of policy for energy storage innovation & diffusion
* discussion of complexities involved in policy and politics of energy storage
Lecture notesMaterials will be made available on the website.
LiteratureMaterials will be made available on the website.
Prerequisites / NoticeStrong interest in energy and technology policy.
363-1039-00LIntroduction to NegotiationW3 credits2GM. Ambühl
AbstractThe course introduces students to the concepts, theories, and strategies of negotiation and is enriched with an extensive exploration of real-life case-study examples.
ObjectiveThe objective of the course is to teach students to recognize, understand, and approach different negotiation situations, by relying on a range of primarily quantitative and some qualitative analytical tools.
ContentWe all negotiate on a daily basis – on a personal level with friends, family, and service providers, on a professional level with employers and clients, among others. Additionally, negotiations are constantly unfolding across various issues at the political level, from solving armed conflicts to negotiating trade and market access deals.

The course aims to provide students with a toolbox of analytical methods that can be used to identify and disentangle negotiation situations, as well as serve as a reference point to guide action in practice. The applicability of these analytical methods is illustrated through examples of negotiation situations from international politics and business.

The theoretical part of the course covers diverse perspectives on negotiation: with a key focus on game theory, but also covering Harvard principles of negotiation, as well as the negotiation engineering approach developed by Prof. Ambühl at ETH Zurich. The course also dedicates some time to focus on conflict management as a specific category of negotiation situations and briefly introduces students to the social aspects of negotiation, based on the insights from psychology and behavioral economics.

The empirical part of the course draws on case-studies from the realm of international politics and business, including examples from Prof. Ambühl’s work as a career diplomat. Every year, the course also hosts two guest lecturers – representatives from politics or business leaders, who share practical experience on negotiations from their careers.
LiteratureThe list of relevant references will be distributed in the beginning of the course.
851-0735-14LSeminar Business Law: Contracts for Projects by Mechanical Engineers Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 20

Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT
W2 credits2SP. Peyrot
AbstractThis seminar provides an introduction into the legal aspects of projects in the machine and plant construction industries. The seminar has specific practical focus as a real life case of an industry company will be studied.
ObjectiveIn practice, students will invariably have to assume responsibility for project management. This will also include dealing with legal issues. The seminar offers an introduction into the legal basis and the legal issues of managing projects.

- law of contracts for sales, work and mandate
- specifics of project contracts: definition of scope, distribution of risk and opportunities, warranties, liability
- typical contract clauses, sample agreements
- specific agreements used in the case study
- contracts and claims management

The students will be introduced into the original agreements of the real life case and the responsible persons will give introductions into the legal issues encountered during the completion of the project
Lecture notesThe script will be provided on the moodle platform.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe seminar is not an introductory course. Students are required to have attended an introductory lecture (e.g. Business Law by Dr. Paul Peyrot, Introduction to Law by Prof. Dr. Stefan Bechtold).

For the successful completion of the seminar and for obtaining the grade, all parts of the seminar must be attended. All participants are required to participate in a group effort which has to be presented on the last day of the seminar.

The grade will be a wheighted average of an individual paper based on questions out of the materials (1/3) and the group presentation (2/3).

The seminar will take place on the following days:

Block I: 25. Februar 2021 16:15 bis 20:00
Block II: 4. März 2021 16:15 bis 20:00
Block III: 11. März 2021 16:15 bis 20:00
Block IV: 18. März 2021 extern bei MAN Energy Solutions AG (Zürich), 8:00 bis 18:00
Block V: 15. April 2021 16:15 bis 20:00
Block VI: 22. April 2021 16:15 bis 20:00
860-0022-00LComplexity and Global Systems Science Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 50.

Prerequisites: solid mathematical skills.

Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET, D-MAVT and ISTP
W3 credits2SD. Helbing, S. Mahajan
AbstractThis course discusses complex techno-socio-economic systems, their counter-intuitive behaviors, and how their theoretical understanding empowers us to solve some long-standing problems that are currently bothering the world.
ObjectiveParticipants should learn to get an overview of the state of the art in the field, to present it in a well understandable way to an interdisciplinary scientific audience, to develop models for open problems, to analyze them, and to defend their results in response to critical questions. In essence, participants should improve their scientific skills and learn to think scientifically about complex dynamical systems.
ContentThis course starts with a discussion of the typical and often counter-intuitive features of complex dynamical systems such as self-organization, emergence, (sudden) phase transitions at "tipping points", multi-stability, systemic instability, deterministic chaos, and turbulence. It then discusses phenomena in networked systems such as feedback, side and cascading effects, and the problem of radical uncertainty. The course progresses by demonstrating the relevance of these properties for understanding societal and, at times, global-scale problems such as traffic jams, crowd disasters, breakdowns of cooperation, crime, conflict, social unrests, political revolutions, bubbles and crashes in financial markets, epidemic spreading, and/or "tragedies of the commons" such as environmental exploitation, overfishing, or climate change. Based on this understanding, the course points to possible ways of mitigating techno-socio-economic-environmental problems, and what data science may contribute to their solution.
Lecture notes"Social Self-Organization
Agent-Based Simulations and Experiments to Study Emergent Social Behavior"
Helbing, Dirk
ISBN 978-3-642-24004-1
LiteraturePhilip Ball
Why Society Is A Complex Matter

Globally networked risks and how to respond

Global Systems Science and Policy

Managing Complexity: Insights, Concepts, Applications

Further links:



Further literature will be recommended in the lectures.
Prerequisites / NoticeMathematical skills can be helpful
701-0791-00LEnvironmental History - Introduction and Overview Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 80.
W2 credits2VM. Gisler
AbstractIntroduction into environmental history as a discipline that ask for the human-nature-relationships from a long-term and spatially defined perspective. By presenting a selection of different topics the lecture provides access to new questions and insights.
ObjectiveIntroduction into environmental history; survey of long-term development of human-nature-interrelations; discussion of selected problems. Improved ability to assess current problems from a historical perspective and to critically interrogate one's own standpoint.
ContentHumans live in and with nature, depend on it, change it permanently: as bio- and geological agents they intervene, reshape, leave prints, improve, reproduce and demonize nature; in short, they’re “doing environment”. Namely in the 20th century, the "era of ecology" (Joachim Radkau) or the age of the “Great Acceleration” (John McNeill), human interventions in their environments have increased exponentially. But nature itself is also constantly changing, adapting, striking back. This leads to a constantly changing interrelation between human and nature.
This interdependence is at the core of this lecture. The introduction into “environmental history” offers an overview of the human-environment-relationship in a long-term perspective. It outlines concepts such as the anthropocene, climate and energy as well as questions of environmental policy and the history of the environmental movements. It is meant to expand the competencies for the assessment of current problems and the critical questioning of one's own point of view.
Lecture notesCourse material is provided in digital form.
LiteratureMcNeill, John R. 2000. Something new under the sun: An environmental history of the twentieth-century world, New York: Norton.

Uekötter, Frank (Ed.) 2010. The turning points of environmental history, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Winiwarter, Verena und Martin Knoll 2007. Umweltgeschichte: Eine Einführung, Köln: Böhlau.
Prerequisites / NoticeStudents are asked to write an exam during the last session
851-0648-00LMachine Learning for Global Development Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 24

Prerequisite: Students on BSc or MSc level who have already successfully participated in a data science and programming course.
W3 credits2GJ. D. Wegner, L. Hensgen, A. Rom
AbstractIn this course students will learn theories of machine learning and its application to problems in the context of global development, with a focus on developing countries (e.g. predicting the risk of child labor or chances of a malaria outbreak). By the end of the course, students will be able to critically reflect upon linkages between technical innovations, culture and individual/societal needs.
ObjectiveThe objective of this course is to introduce students with a non-technical background to machine learning. Emphasis is on hands-on programming and implementation of basic machine learning concepts to demystify the subject, equip participants with all necessary insights and tools to develop their own solutions, and to come up with original ideas for problems related to the context of global development. Specific importance is placed upon the reconciliation of the predictions, which have been generated by automated processes, with the realities on the ground; hence the linkage between technical and social issues. This raises questions such as “In how far can we trust an algorithm?”, “Which factors are hard to measure and therefore not integrated in the algorithm but still crucial for the result, such as cultural and social influences?”. These questions will be discussed in the interdisciplinary group, equipping students with various perspectives on this crucial and very current debate.
ContentThis course will give an introduction to machine learning with emphasis on global development. We will discuss topics like data preprocessing, feature extraction, clustering, regression, classification and take some first steps towards modern deep learning. The course will consist of 50% lectures and 50% hands-on programming in python, where students will directly implement learned theory as a software to help solving problems in global development.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis course will give an introduction to machine learning with emphasis on applications in global development. It will consist of 50% lectures and 50% programming exercises (in python). Teaching assistants from the EcoVision Lab will help with all programming exercises without any needs for additional funding.

Students should bring their laptops to the exercises because we will program on laptops directly.

It is required that students enrolling in this course have successfully passed a course that deals with basic data science and are familiar with programming (preferably in Python).
851-0097-00LWhat Is Knowledge and Under What Conditions Are We Entitled to Claim Knowledge?W3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractThe seminar aims at a clarification of the concept of knowledge, as it is built in our experiential relations to the world. An analysis is needed of the difference between knowledge and belief, of the relation between objectivity and knowledge, and of the role of reasons for having knowledge. Additionally, the legitimacy of different types of knowledge claims should be evaluated.
ObjectiveOn will able to evaluate the arguments pro and con the thesis, that knowledge is justified, true belief. Furthermore, one will gain some insights in the role of reasons for knowledge and in the merits and misgivings of a naturalistic account of knowledge. Finally, one will be a bit more familiar with some theories of philosophical epistemology (e.g. empiricism, rationalism).
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