PhD Course - Blockchain Summer School

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Roman Beck, IT University of Copenhagen
Peter Eklund, IT University of Copenhagen
Peter Sestoft, IT University of Copenhagen
Michel Avital, Copenhagen Business School
Fritz Henglein, University of Copenhagen

Roman Beck, IT University of Copenhagen
Peter Sestoft, IT University of Copenhagen
Michel Avital, Copenhagen Business School
Fritz Henglein, University of Copenhagen
Heiko Hees (brainbot technologies AG)
Jacob Stenum Czepluch (brainbot technologies AG)

Dates of the course:
Monday August 15th to Thursday August 18th

9 AM to 5 PM on Monday to Thursday

Course description: 
While blockchain-based applications such as Bitcoin are still in their infancy, a dramatic increase in industrial and academic interest in blockchain technology is evident. In addition, start-ups, as well as industry initiatives, are presently working intensely on blockchain-based innovations, making the technology one of the most promising drivers of innovation in many sectors and industries. However, the design and implementation of blockchain-based systems requires know-how in
various areas, as well as mindful consideration of larger economic and societal issues. These objectives provide the starting point for this summer school.

In this first ever blockchain summer school to be held worldwide, this course/summer school will focus on educating students in blockchain technology to develop solutions within three focal industries. The participants will learn how blockchain technology is disrupting existing business models and will gain insights in paradigmatic changes occurring from economic, organisational and computer science viewpoints. As a result, the participants will be able to develop their own, new value creating information systems, which are designed as decentralized autonomous systems. As learning outcomes, the participants will receive computer science, information systems, and business knowledge background in order to analyse existing business processes and their potential to convert them into blockchain-based solutions. In so doing, they will be able to co-create new blockchain-based cryptographic economic systems.

Within the summer school, participants will learn how to set up a development environment and how to work with the emergent crowd-funded decentralized blockchain application platform of Ethereum. They will be able to design and implement their own smart contracts and will code their own dapps (decentralized apps). Once basic blockchain elements have been introduced, participants will work on their own blockchain development projects, supported by the participating industry partners. The outcomes will be functioning demonstrators as well as a written documentation and reports that illustrate the business process or transaction realized in a blockchain implementation and how, in so doing, a real world challenge is addressed.

Students interested in participating in the summer school must be enrolled as PhD or master students in a computer science, information systems, engineering or other cognate program at a European university. At least introductory programming experience is a requirement.

Applicants must submit a CV, a motivation letter (1 page), as well as a proposal (specification or idea) of a blockchain-based application they wish to work on or would like to extend during participation in the summer school. The proposal should be at least 3 pages long but not longer than 5 pages.

As part of the admission process, the organizers will assess the quality of the submitted application material before finally accepting the participants. We encourage students to apply as a team and will prioritize proposals submitted by teams. Accepted summer school participants must make themselves familiar with the teaching material made available before the summer school starts.

Academic level:
Graduate level: Phd and advanced master students

Related disciplines:
Management Information System, Computer Science, Interaction Design, Information Sciences, Business and Entrepreneurship

How is the course of interest for PhD students at ITU:

  • Identifying research opportunities with leading edge technology
  • Understanding how the emerging Blockchain technology may interact and affect the respective phenomenon of their interest
  • Learning how to work in interdisciplinary settings with industry partners how to apply scientific methods on real-world problems
  • Critically reflecting their own PhD projects in the light of emerging Blockchain solutions
  • Writing a report on their Blockchain

Participants will present their blockchain solutions at the end of the summer school and defend these. In addition, they will produce a 15 pages comprising report after the summer school and defend the report in a 30 minute oral exam. Only when all three mandatory tasks (presentation, report, and oral exam) are assessed as satisfactory, ECTS points will be granted and a certificate issued.


Amount of hours the student is expected to use on the course:
Participation: 48 hours (3 days 8 hour each and 24h hackathon at one day)
Preparation: 30 hours (proposal writing, self-study and preparation of mandatory material)
Post-processing: 36 hour (finalizing the 15 pages report on the developed blockchain solution)

24 to 30 students from Danish and European universities

Required readings:
Blockchain related readings:
Bayer, D., Haber, S., Stornetta, W.S. (1993). Improving the efficiency and reliability of digital timestamping.
In Sequences II: Methods in Communication, Security and Computer Science, 329- 334.

Beck, R., Czepluch, J., Lollike, N., Malone, S. (2016). Blockchain - The Gateway to a Trust-free
Cryptographic Economic World. In Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth European Conference on
Information Systems (ECIS 2016).

Economist. (2015a). The great chain of being sure about things. Retrieved from

Economist. (2015b). The next big thing. Retrieved from

Economist. (2015c). The trust machine. Retrieved from

Economist. (2016). Hype springs eternal. Retrieved from

Ethereum - Blockchain Starter Guide

Haber, S., Stornetta, W.S. (1991). How to time-stamp a digital document. Journal of Cryptology, 3(2),

Nakamoto, S. (2008). Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Retrieved from

Szabo, N. (1994). Smart Contracts. Retrieved from

Wikipedia - Cryptographic hash function

Wikipedia - SHA-2

Wikipedia - SHA-3

Designing innovation in practice readings:
Avital, M and Te'eni, D. (2009) From generative fit to generative capacity: exploring an emerging
dimension of information systems design and task performance, Information Systems Journal,
19, 345–367.

Basadur, M., Pringle, P., Speranzini, G., & Bacot, M. (2000). Collaborative Problem Solving Through
Creativity in Problem Definition: Expanding the Pie. Creativity & Innovation Management,
9(1), 54-76.

Catmull, E. (2008). How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity. Harvard Business Review, 86(9), 64-72.

Denning, P. J. (2004). The social life of innovation. Communications of the ACM, 47(4), 15-19.

Ehn, P and Kyng, M (1991) "Cardboard Computers Mocking-It-Up or Hands-On the Future" in (F.
Kensing & K.H.Madsen, Eds) Design at Work: Cooperative Design of Computer Systems,
Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 169-195.

Goldenberg, J., Mazursky, D., Horowitz, R., & Levav, A. (2003). Finding Your Innovation Sweet Spot.
Harvard Business Review, 81(3), 120-129.

Kelley, T.(2001) Prototyping is the Shorthand of Design" Design Management Journal 12(3).

Norman, D.A & Verganti, R. (2012) "Incremental and Radical Innovation: Design Research Versus
Technology and Meaning Change," Design Issues.

Osterwalder, A. and Pigneur, Y. (2009). Business Model Generation. See

Sutton, R. I. (2001). The Weird Rules of Creativity. Harvard Business Review, 79(8), 94-103.

Design Science related readings:
Gregor, S., & Hevner, A. R. (2013). Positioning and Presenting Design Science Research for Maximum
Impact. MIS Quarterly, 37(2), 337–355.

Hevner, A. R., March, S. T., Park, J, & Ram, S. (2004). Design Science in Information Systems
Research, MIS Quarterly, 28(1), 75-105.