Wednesday, May 17th, 9:00am-1:00pm
Martin E. Segal Theatre
The Graduate Center, CUNY

Keynote | Panels | Call for Papers | Directions | RSVP

The GC Digital Fellows welcome you to a half-day symposium on digital activism that brings together designers, software developers, community organizers and scholars to discuss the possibilities and limitations of digital activism — past and present — and its relationship to offline grassroots efforts. From social media networks to e-mail to websites, the Internet and digital technologies are deployed both as a tool to organize and amplify activists’ resistance efforts, as well as a site of state and corporate control and surveillance.

This symposium will foreground an intersectional approach, recognizing that structures and experiences of oppression are connected, across online and offline spaces. We welcome all perspectives.

Keynote by Dr. Sasha Costanza-Chock (9:20am) (top)

Our keynote speaker will be distinguished scholar, activist and media-maker Dr. Sasha Costanza-Chock, Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT. They are a Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, Faculty Affiliate with the MIT Open Documentary Lab and the MIT Center for Civic Media, and creator of the MIT Codesign Studio ( Their work focuses on social movements, media justice, and community-led design. Dr. Costanza-Chock’s book Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets: Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement was published by the MIT Press in 2014. They are a board member of Allied Media Projects (, and a worker/owner at Research Action Design (, a worker-owned cooperative that uses community-led research, transformative media organizing, technology development, and collaborative design to build the power of grassroots social movements.


Towards Transformative Media Organizing: lessons from participatory research and design with queer intersectional community based organizations

This talk summarizes key lessons from the Transformative Media Organizing project (, a multi-year participatory research, design, and skill-share process focused on media work with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer (LGBTQ) and Two-Spirit organizations in the United States. In the context of this project, in 2014-2016 we conducted mixed-methods participatory research included a nationwide organizational survey with 231 respondents, 19 expert interviews, and a series of workshops with project partners and advisers. We found that despite scarce resources, many LGBTQ and Two-Spirit organizations have an intersectional analysis of linked systems of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other axes of identity and structural inequality. Many seek to do media work that develops the critical consciousness and leadership of their communities, create media in ways that are deeply accountable to their social base, use participatory approaches to media making, are strategic and cross-platform in their approach, and root their work in community action. We call this combination of characteristics transformative media organizing, and we believe it describes an emerging paradigm for social movement media practices in the current media landscape.

Panels (top)

Panel 1 (10:40 am): Empowerment and Surveillance Online

  • ‘Careful what you say!’: The Potential and Pitfalls of Using Tech to Amplify Youth Voice and Augment Adult Listening – Sarah Zeller-Berkman, Jen Tang, Jennifer Chmielewski, Heidy Barbosa
  • Data Security and Open Digital Pedagogy – Andrew McKinney, Patrick Smyth, and Laurie Hurson
  • Structuring Gender Equity in Academe: Crowdsourcing Paths to Institutional and Social Change – Danica Savonick

Panel 2 (11:50 am): Possibilities and Limitations of Digital Activism and Storytelling

  • Finding Psychological and Cultural Meaning of The Gezi Park Protests via Sticky Notes and Tweets – Ayşenur Ataman
  • Facebook, WhatsApp and our Feminist Activism: Rural Feminist Crusaders of India Treading Inequality in Digital Space in Anti-Rape Activism – Pallavi Guha
  • Redefining Social Media Value to Save Digital Activism by Busting the Bots and Attacking the Algorithms with Video – David Ambrose and Ananda Ambrose

Directions (top)

The Graduate Center is located in midtown Manhattan in the historic B. Altman building.  It is located on Fifth Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets,  two blocks east of Penn Station.  The closest subway stations, are located at 34th Street and Sixth Avenue for the B, D, F, N, R, and Q trains and 33rd Street and Lexington Avenue for the 6 train. View the map.

RSVP (top)

To RSVP for the event, click here.