Universities & Big Tech Online via Zoom

Spurred by the pandemic, universities around the globe have been forced to move their teaching and research online. Consequently, academia has become even more dependent on digital services provided by big tech companies, including Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. In the light of the current acceleration in the digitization of teaching and research, we urgently need to revisit the debate on academic independence.

How do commercial video conferencing tools, cloud hosting services, MOOCs, learning environments, and office suites shape research and teaching? Can universities safeguard key academic values in the digital environment? And what kinds of policy and legislation are needed to do so? In this webinar, Karen Maex, Rector Magnificus of the University of Amsterdam, and José van Dijck, professor of Media and Digital Society at Utrecht University, will discuss these questions. Over the past years, both Maex and Van Dijck have critically reflected on the growing influence of tech companies on higher education and developed proposals on how to protect the independence of academia in a digital future.


  • Thomas Poell, Professor of Data, Culture & Institutions at the University of Amsterdam (chair)
  • Karen Maex, Rector Magnificus and Professor of Material Physics and Nanoelectronics at the University of Amsterdam
  • José van Dijck, Distinguished University Professor of Media and Digital Society at Utrecht University.