Visiting Scholars

Our Visiting Scholars develop publicly-accessible research projects that better articulate the harms and opportunities of networked communication and social media; grapple with questions about the legitimacy of who should address these harms and opportunities; test under-discussed ideas and develop new ones; prototype tools and protocols; develop policies enriched by attention to sociotechnical issues; and encourage accurate and accessible narratives about the harms and possibilities of social media.

Berkman Klein is thrilled to announce its Institute for Rebooting Social Media‘s inaugural cohort of Visiting Scholars—from disciplines ranging from law and philosophy to informatics and computer science. During the 2022-2023 academic year, these nine scholars will use their time with the Institute to collaborate with one another on existing work and begin new lines of inquiry.

“So many of us are brainstorming what to do about the state of social media without even being in a position to well understand what it’s doing to us and where it’s headed,” said Jonathan Zittrain, co-director of the Institute for Rebooting Social Media. “This extraordinary group of scholars represents some of the best efforts to deftly apply rigorous academic thinking to complicated and fast-moving phenomena, with an eye towards interventions that help without making anything else worse.”

Joanne ArmitageIbtissam BouachrineJabari EvansGreg GondweKate KlonickDavid NemerYong Jin ParkJon Penney, and Elissa Redmiles have been doing pioneering research into social media and the prospects for interventions to improve it. With the Institute, these scholars will focus on various topics, such as the decolonization of social media companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, online disinformation related to Brazil’s 2022 general elections, and digital violence against Muslim women.

“We are thrilled to officially welcome our first Visiting Scholars into the Institute’s growing community,” said James Mickens, co-director of the Institute for Rebooting Social Media. “We look forward to learning with them and engaging areas of shared concern, including digital governance, freedom of speech, privacy, community-based infrastructure design, and online inequality and discrimination.”

The Visiting Scholars will spend a portion of the academic year in residence at the Berkman Klein Center’s new home in the Reginald F. Lewis Law Center at Harvard Law School. In addition to their own projects, scholars will work with Harvard students, staff, and affiliates, and the broader Berkman Klein community, with the goal of producing research that is both academically rigorous and accessible to diverse audiences.

The Visiting Scholars Program is part of the Institute for Rebooting Social Media’s larger portfolio of programming, research, and educational opportunities. The Program will run annually throughout the three-year duration of the Institute, strengthening the community of interdisciplinary scholars tackling the most challenging problems of social media.

The Visiting Scholar selection committee included Harvard faculty Gabriella (Biella) Coleman, Nien-hê Hsieh, James Mickens, Jordi Weinstock and Jonathan Zittrain, as well as Hilary Ross and Rebecca Tabasky. The Institute and its programs are supported by generous contributions from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Reid Hoffman, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies.