Joan Donovan

Director, Harvard Kennedy’s Shorenstein Center and the Technology and Social Change (TaSc) Research Project

Joan Donovan, PhD, is the Research Director of Harvard Kennedy’s Shorenstein Center and the Director of the Technology and Social Change (TaSc) Research Project. Dr. Donovan leads the field in examining online extremism, media manipulation, and disinformation campaigns. Her research specializes in Critical Internet Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and the Sociology of Social Movements. Dr. Donovan’s research and expertise has been showcased in a wide array of media outlets including NPR, Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, ABC News, NBC News, Columbia Journalism Review, The Atlantic, and more.

The Technology and Social Change (TaSC) Research Project, led by Dr. Donovan, aims to understand how media manipulation is a means to control public conversation, derail democracy, and disrupt society. The project conducts research, develops methods, and facilitates workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns. The  project is creating a research platform called the Media Manipulation Case Book, which will include 100 case studies to advance our knowledge of how misinformation travels across the web and platforms. 

After completing a PhD in Sociology and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego, Dr. Donovan was a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, where she studied white supremacists’ use of DNA ancestry tests, social movements, and technology. At Data and Society, she was the Research Lead on the Media Manipulation Initiative, where she led a large team of researchers studying efforts to manipulate sociotechnical systems for political gain.


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