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Socrates Program: 2021 Winter Seminars

Socrates Digital Winter Seminars

The Socrates Digital Winter Seminars will consist of three concurrent seminars. Each Socrates Digital Seminar consists of two, 2.5 hour sessions, one on Friday, February 12th, and one on Saturday February 13th, 2021 with a digital opening reception Friday evening. The seminar tuition is $250.00. Very limited scholarships are available by application.

We have lined up three fantastic seminars with veteran moderators! Please see below for descriptions of seminar offerings:

Disinformation, Hate and Social Media Platforms: The Future of Technology Regulation and Speech in America 
The recent elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, and social unrest fueled by the Black Lives Matter movement has tested speech on the internet and sparked a battle over the future of speech regulations online. At the center of debates over speech are social media platforms that have hosted and facilitated the spread of falsehoods, conspiracy theories and hates speech.  In Washington, the incoming Biden administration, Congress and regulatory agencies are expected grapple with regulations for internet companies to hold them accountable for content they host. How do social media companies monitor speech on their platforms? Should they be liable for what content appears on their sites? Currently Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, gives these websites protection from liability for content created and shared on their sites by users. These protections are being reconsidered by all branches of government and across parties. How we answer these questions of content management and the responsibility of these technology companies will have major implications for the future of the technology industry, politics, and how we interact and relate on the internet. How can we find a way forward that protects free speech while also ensuring a healthy society and democracy?

Moderator: Cecilia Kang is a national technology correspondent for The New York Times. She write about regulatory issues such as privacy, cybersecurity, antitrust and the digital divide. Cecilia spent one decade at The Washington Post as senior technology correspondent and began her career in Seoul, South Korea for Dow Jones. She won the George Polk Award, Loeb Award and was a Pulitzer finalist for coverage of Facebook in 2018.

Learning from James Baldwin: Lessons for His Time and Ours
James Baldwin was one of the preeminent writers and activists of the twentieth century.  His books, essays, and talks had a profound influence, changing millions of hearts and minds during the Civil-Rights Era, and inspiring a cultural awakening that led to policy change. Baldwin’s writings and talks are as resonant today as they were 50 years ago.  The United States is now experiencing a major protest movement that “may be” the largest in U.S. history, according to the New York Times, focusing on race, equal rights, and human rights. Baldwin’s words offer urgent lessons for our time as well as his.  He articulates how the United States might “become a nation” and how we might “achieve our identity, our maturity, as men and women,” as he phrased it, and finally fulfill the ideals of freedom and equality. Each session focuses on selections of Baldwin’s writings that raise critical questions about the possibilities and limits of social change; the power of racism; and the influence of emotion and affect on social and political structures.

Moderator: John Stauffer is Professor of English and African American Studies and former chair of American Studies at Harvard University. He is the author or editor of 20 books and over 100 articles focusing on antislavery and/or photography.

Health at Our Fingertips: The Challenges and Opportunities of the Digital Age
In today’s world, health information is just a tap or click away. But, far too often, misinformation abounds, sending us down misleading rabbit holes. Given this situation, how can policies and products mitigate this spread of disinformation? What factors should be weighed in crafting interventions? How does a public health crisis change the stakes? What are the unintended consequences of policies made in a crisis? What are the decision-making lessons? How can they be applied to other fields? Participants will explore the intersection of technology, public health, policy, and leadership.

Moderator: Kapil Parakh has led efforts at Google that disseminate high-quality health information including products on Zika, Ebola and Covid-19. Kapil is also a practicing cardiologist and holds a Masters in Public Health as well as a PhD in Epidemiology. His forthcoming book, Searching for Health will be published by Johns Hopkins Press in April 2021.

Event information
Fri Feb 12, 2021 - Sat Feb 13, 2021