Institute of the Weltethos Foundation
at the University of Tübingen

First slide

Director Ulrich Hemel signs Data-Literacy-Charta

Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Hemel is the first signatory to a charter initiated by the Stifterverband, which formulates a common understanding of data literacy and its importance for educational processes in the 21st century.

The Data Literacy Charter, initiated by the Stifterverband in January 2021 and supported by numerous professional societies – including the Weltethos-Institut – formulates a common understanding of data literacy and its importance for educational processes. Ulrich Hemel, Director of the Global Ethic Institute, is one of the first signatories, as are Dorothee Bär (Minister of State in the Federal Chancellery for Digitization), Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (President of the German Adult Education Association), Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch (Vice President of the Bavarian State Parliament) and Prof. Dr. Ada Pellert (Member of the Digital Council). With the Data Literacy Charter, they and others express the common understanding of data literacy in the sense of comprehensive data literacy and its importance in educational processes.

Data literacy encompasses the skills to collect, manage, evaluate, and apply data in a critical way. If data is to support decision-making processes, it requires competent answers to four fundamental questions:

  • What do I want to do with data?
    Data and data analysis are not an end in themselves, but serve a concrete application in the real world.
  • What can I do with data?
    Data sources and their quality as well as the state of technical and methodological developments open up possibilities and set limits.
  • What am I allowed to do with data?
    All legal rules of data use (e.g., data protection, copyrights, and licensing issues) must always be considered.
  • What should I do with data?
    Because data is a valuable resource, a normative claim derives from it to use it for the benefit of individuals and society.

The supporters of the charter see data literacy as a central competence of all people in the 21st century. It is the key to systematically transforming data into knowledge. Data literacy enables people, companies and scientific institutions as well as governmental or civil society organizations to actively participate in opportunities of data use; to deal confidently and responsibly with their own and other people’s data; to use new drivers and technologies such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence or Internet of Things to meet individual needs, to address societal challenges and to solve global problems.

Data literacy strengthens judgment, self-determination and a sense of responsibility, and promotes the social and economic participation of all of us in a world shaped by digitalization.

In this way, core points of the charter overlap with those of Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Hemel’s recent book publication “Kritik der digitalen Vernunft” (“Critique of Digital Reason”). Based on the global ethic idea, the theologian and entrepreneur deals in it with an evaluation of the digital world from a practical-ethical perspective. In doing so, he develops a criterion for action that we can all face: Does a digital application promote or inhibit humanity? According to Hemel, this question must be the guiding principle for action in daily life, but also in science and politics.