About

about the

DISINFORMATION STUDIES

PROJECT

In recent years, the proliferation of disinformation worldwide, borne of an international dearth of digital literacy and critical thought, has caused or exacerbated issues contributing to global democratic backslide. As studies demonstrate that critical engagement with media reduces susceptibility to conspiracy theories and, inversely, uncritical media consumption is resulting in increasingly harmful societal effects, the global landscape is worrying: only 40% of Americans can correctly answer questions designed to test digital literacy, and a staggering 86% of respondents worldwide believe various falsehoods they encounter online or on TV. The urgency of the situation is made starker by the increasing fervor with which major political parties in the world’s leading democracies are spurning democratic norms.

In light of this urgency, we are developing the program on Disinformation Studies as a humanities-anchored initiative. This program will be founded on an interdisciplinary curriculum with significant cross-sector engagement that leads to the development of uniquely equipped professional candidates and innovative interdisciplinary solutions to an array of societal problems.

As part of its cross-sector engagement, the program seeks to partner with a variety of organizations to help foster digital literacy, establish a talent network and pipeline, and demonstrate that the intertwined problems of disinformation spread and democratic backslide are measurably remediable through the humanities.

This program will be grounded in an annual Symposium on Disinformation Studies (SDS), a new globally-oriented curriculum offering students a concentration in the subject, a cross-sector summer internship network, and co-curricular partnerships with organizations in government, higher education, civil society, and the private sector.

 

Project Development Team

Sunka Simon

Sunka Simon

Project Lead; Professor of German, Film and Media Studies

Sunka Simon (Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, M.A. Universität Hamburg, Germany) is a Professor of German, Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, USA. Simon is the author of "Mail-Orders. The Fiction of Letters in Postmodern Culture" (SUNY Press 2002) and the forthcoming "German Crime Drama from Network TV to Netflix" (Bloomsbury Press). She is the co-author of Globally Networked Teaching in the Humanities (Routledge 2015).

Alexander Rojavin

Alexander Rojavin

Project Lead; Policy Analyst

Alexander Rojavin (J.D., M.S. Temple University, B.A. Swarthmore College) is an intelligence, policy, and media analyst specializing in information warfare. A native speaker of English and Russian, he is a published translator (Slavica Publishers, Routledge, and forthcoming Academic Studies Press) and the co-author of two Russian language reference books (both Routledge 2019). Currently, he is editing a book framing modern Russian cinema as a battlefield in the Kremlin's larger information war. At Middlebury’s School of Russian, he teaches a seminar on post-Soviet information warfare and media consumption.

 

Affiliated Faculty

Bob Rehak

Bob Rehak

Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies

Bob Rehak is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore College, where his research and teaching focus on special effects, animation, videogames, and media fandom. His book "More Than Meets the Eye: Special Effects in the Fantastic Transmedia Franchise" was published in 2018 by NYU Press, and he is co-editor, with Dan North and Michael S. Duffy, of "Special Effects: New Theories/Histories/Contexts" (BFI: 2015). His scholarship has appeared in "Film Criticism," "Cinema Journal," "Science Fiction Film and Television," and the "Journal of Fandom Studies," and he has contributed chapters to "The Video Game Theory Reader," "Videogame/Player/Text," "The Cybercultures Reader," "Spreadable Media," "The Routledge Companion to Media Studies," and the Screen Decades and Behind the Silver Screen series.

Josh Brody

Josh Brody

Associate Professor of Computer Science

Joshua Brody (Ph.D. Dartmouth College, MS New York University, BS Carnegie Mellon University) is an Associate Professor of computer science at Swarthmore College, where he teaches Algorithms, Theory of Computation, and introductory courses. His research concentrates on understanding the limits of computation, with a particular focus on proving lower bounds in communication complexity and in using communication lower bounds to understand limits of computation in other areas, including data structures, streaming algorithms, and property testing. He is also coach of Swarthmore College's ICPC competitive programming team, which has recently won medals at the 2021 ICPC North American Championships and the 202 ICPC World Finals Invitational.