The work and well-being of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society are profoundly strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, ability, and much more. Working closely with the specialized offices at Harvard University and the Law School, and in collaboration with supporting Foundations, the Berkman Klein Center has taken a multidimensional approach to addressing diversity and inclusion across all areas of work. Examples of areas of activities at the core of the Center’s diversity and inclusion efforts include the following:
Networks, Collaborations, and Capacity Building: Through the incubation of the Global Network of Centers, the Digitally Connected and Conectados Al Sur initiatives, and the launch of the Digital Asia Hub, as well as through networked educational efforts such as CopyrightX, which has been taught through affiliate courses in countries including Brazil, China, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Palestine, South Africa, and Uganda, the Center has actively engaged in network-building, collaborations, and capacity building that spans across cultures, nation states, institutions, and disciplines, with an emphasis on the Global South. Most recently, the Berkman Klein Center joined ITU’s Equals Partnership as a member of its research group.
Community Programs: The Fellowship and Summer Internship programs, respectively, are key pillars in the Center’s effort to create “Cohesive Diversity”, and we strive to create a culture that is welcoming to people of all backgrounds. In our efforts to solicit the greatest range of candidates, we actively work with partner organizations, foundations, and current community members to widely share the call for applications and to seek names of people we actively reach out to invite to apply or join us. In order to make Berkman Klein fellowships a possibility for as wide a range of applicants as possible, in the 2017-2018 academic year the Berkman Klein Center awarded a number of stipends to incoming fellows selected through the open call for applications, with the goal to support people from communities who are underrepresented in fields related to Internet and society who contribute to the diversity of the Center’s research and activities, and who have financial need.
Research Agenda: Over the past decade, the Berkman Klein Center’s research agenda has focused on themes and topics that are relevant in the diversity and inclusion context. The MediaCloud team, for instance, undertakes studies of media coverage of a wide range of topics, including a variety of topics related to police violence against African Americans, the death of the open web economy in Egypt, and the geographic balance of media coverage in the US. The Harmful Speech Online project, collaborating with the Center for Communication Governance at National Law University in New Delhi, the Digitally Connected network, and in conjunction with the Network of Centers, aims to understand and develop solutions to the problem of harmful speech against vulnerable populations. The Youth and Media project focuses on issues related to safety, learning, and empowerment of underserved youth in the US and, through a collaboration with UNICEF, globally. Diversity and inclusion and the ways in which the use of AI may reinforce existing biases, particularly against those in underserved or underrepresented populations and with a focus on the largely under-researched and under-explored international aspects of these challenges, are core themes of the Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative.
Forum for Dialogue: Since its inception, the Berkman Klein Center has served as a forum for dialogue to discuss issues related to diversity and inclusion, from which different initiatives have crystallized. Recent examples include an International Workshop on Misogyny, the Harmful Speech Workshop, and a Symposium on Artificial Intelligence & Inclusion in collaboration with the Global Network of Internet & Society Centers. These conferences, in addition to our ongoing events and workshop series, bring together activists and experts from various disciplines to discuss what can (or should) be done to create a more diverse, inclusive, and peaceful society. Recent public events addressed topics including Examining Black Feminism in the Digital Era, Digital Rights and Online Harassment in the Global South, The KINGS of Africa’s Digital Economy, Not Bugs, But Features: Hopeful Institutions and Technologies of Inequality, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy, and Can We Talk?: An Open Forum on Disability, Technology, and Inclusion, among many others.
Participatory Publications: The Berkman Klein Center regularly facilitates publications that invite people in the broader network to contribute research and reflections. Examples of such outputs include the Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World, Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media, Network of Centers Case Studies on Online Intermediaries, The Good Life in Asia’s Digital 21st Century, and Harmful Speech Online: Perspectives, Insights, and Approaches.
These efforts, among several others, are illustrative of the Berkman Klein Center’s deep institutional commitment to the creation of a diverse and inclusive community. Through these and other activities, we actively seek and welcome people of color, women, the LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disabilities, and people at intersections of these identities, from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods, to serve the mission of the Center and, ultimately, build a better world together.