Trust in the Information Age (new Honors Program Tilburg University)

As of the academic year 2023-’24, TiU will start with its new Honors Program, which I will be coordinating.

Are you an ambitious student at TiU, ready to take on an extra challenge? Do you wish to broaden your acquaintance with other scientific disciplines? Sign up for the Honors Program Trust in the Information Age.

Trust is an indispensable element of our individual and social lives. In order to survive, we need to trust: other people, institutions, media and technology, the stories we tell each other, and the law. After all, most of what we know comes from the testimony of others, which only works if we deem these others competent and sincere, in short: reliable. Yet, as we know, trust is not always warranted: humans also tend to manipulate, to make others behave in a way that ensures their own well-being. Believing someone or something therefore always entails a risk. It is of importance here that we continuously find ways to distinguish trustworthy from untrustworthy communicators. This becomes even more urgent in our current information age. With new and digital media, we have more information at our disposal than ever before. In journalism, fact checking is often posed as an objective remedy to this fake news crisis, while traditional gatekeepers like mainstream journalistic media, experts, and scientists have lost some of their standing. This situation is exacerbated by contemporary misinformation challenges. Signaling and interpreting unreliability are complex and challenging processes and falling for deception can have serious repercussions. But so can skepticism: during the Covid pandemic, for instance, public mistrust of science became a growing concern.

That might be why the last two decades have witnessed an upsurge of interest in the phenomenon of (un)trustworthiness in a broad spectrum of disciplines, including medicine, law, information studies, economics, political sciences, (media) psychology and cognitive science, literary and film studies, and philosophy. But do these disciplines mean the same thing when they talk about trust and reliability? The honors program offers an overview of current research on this topic from several of these disciplinary perspectives, including a multidisciplinary conceptual framework for understanding trust(worthiness) from a psychological, philosophical, and legal point of view, and offers a range of methodological procedures for identifying strategies and effects of unreliability.

The HP is an inter- and transdisciplinary program which combines the various disciplines, theories, methods and approaches that TiU offers. Students from different programs are brought together in interactive sessions. The four interconnected courses within this program are all centered on problems related to trust and reliability. The phenomena that will be studied (e.g., AI, big data, misinformation) overlap, but you will be trained to approach these phenomena from different theoretical and methodological lenses—from the fundamentals of what ‘trust’ is and a philosophical questioning of big data ideologies to a feminist-epistemological viewpoint on class, race and gender biases in algorithms; from trust and distrust in AI systems to lie detection techniques, and from close readings of unreliable narrators in art and popular culture to trust in law and institutions.

What can I expect?

During the second and third year of your Bachelor’s program, you will take a total of four extra courses, one per semester. The courses are taught in the evening hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. The courses are interactive and stimulate discussion among students from various fields of study:

  • Law: ‘You can trust me, I’m a lawyer’: cementing trust(worthiness) in law and institutions
  • Communication & Cognition: (Dis)Trust in Connected Societies
  • Artificial Intelligence: Machine Behavior: Assessing Trust in Artificial Intelligence Systems
  • Philosophy: Epistemologies of Trust and Vigilance in the Data Age
  • Media Studies (online elective meant for students who are on exchange and who will miss one of the four regular courses): Spot the Liar! Unreliable Narrators in Literature, Film, and Games

For each session, there is a reading assignment, and the courses will be finalized with a written exam or paper (no re-sit). If you plan a semester abroad, an online module is an option.


Upon successfully completing the four courses (6 ECTS each), you will receive a certificate signed by the Rector Magnificus at the time of awarding your Bachelor’s degree.

The credits obtained for the courses of the Honors Program cannot be used to meet the regular demands of the Bachelor’s program.

How to apply for the Honors Program?

You can apply for the Honors Program if you have completed the first year of your Bachelor’s program (60 ECTS) with a results average of at least 7.0. You can apply for the Honors Program as of June 1st, 2023 via a registration form that will soon be published on this website.

The deadline for applying is August 1st. Students who are admitted will be notified end of August. The courses start in the week of September 4th, 2023.

For more information, contact Liesbeth Bluekens (study advisor) & Inge van de Ven (academic coordinator) via

For the requirements, see this page.