ADL's Center for Technology and Society Announces First Class of Belfer Fellows Who Will Fight Hate and Bias Through Tech

Will innovate in fields such as bot research, video games, virtual reality, and augmented reality to reduce cyberhate and protect civil rights

New York, April 26, 2018 … The Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society (CTS) has selected an Oxford scholar who works with Google; a leading expert on games and emerging media; and an ordained Episcopal minister working in diverse communities in Chicago as its inaugural class of Belfer Fellows.

The Belfer Fellowship program supports ADL’s efforts to create innovative solutions to counter online hate and ensure justice and fair treatment for all in the digital age. The program was made possible by a generous contribution from the Robert A. and Renee E. Belfer Family Foundation. 

The three fellows selected are:

  • Samuel Woolley of the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, who works with Jigsaw, Google’s think tank;
  • Karen Schrier, an associate professor at Marist College and its founding director of the Games and Emerging Media Program.
  • Rev. Dr. Patricia Novick, Ph.D., of the Multicultural Leadership Academy, a program that brings Latino and African-American leaders together.

“We are excited to work with each of the fellows, to see their unique projects come to life, and to learn from one another as we tackle issues and questions that are urgent to the current moment,” said Brittan Heller, director of CTS. “We chose these three fellows because they are remarkable individuals who are not only working on important topics, but they also have deep, substantive expertise in their subject matters and are approaching their projects in truly cutting-edge ways.”

“I am delighted by the high caliber of talent that we have been able to identify and whose projects we are privileged to support,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL. “Best of all, this is just the first class of fellows.  In the years ahead, we hope to continue to find innovators in a range of fields and fund exciting new programs so we can address bigotry wherever it happens.”

Woolley is a researcher, writer, and instructor with a focus on emergent technology and politics. He is the director of research of the Computational Propaganda Research Project at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford and a Ph.D. candidate in the department of communication at the University of Washington. His fellowship project will work to understand how political bots and algorithms have been leveraged to target the Jewish community and use this understanding to find ways to counter this bias. 

Schrier spent more than a decade producing websites, apps, and games at Scholastic, Nickelodeon, BrainPOP PBS/Channel 13, ESI Design and SparkNotes/Barnes & Noble before coming to Marist College. Her project will focus on how the use and design of games, virtual reality, and augmented reality can be used to teach empathy-related skills and reduce bias.

Rev. Novick is an ordained minister who has worn a number of hats during her professional life, including creator of the first degree-granting holistic health program in the United States and director of corporate social responsibility at McDonald’s Corporation. For ADL, she will be developing a free augmented reality (AR) app created by and for the African American and Latino communities to help break down the stigma against underserved communities in Chicago. The plan is to replicate the app for other communities across the U.S.

The ADL Center for Technology and Society is trying to harness these fresh ideas and adding their expertise to existing projects. Working with video game developers, the Center is looking to find ways to reduce bias and increase diversity in the gaming industry and its products. The Center also has joined forces with UC Berkeley’s D-Lab to create the Online Hate Index and push the boundaries of science to transform our understanding of how online hate speech functions. Just as ADL has a holistic approach to fighting hate in schools and communities, CTS is working on multiple fronts to make the tech world more civil and respectful. Read more about the Belfer Fellowship and the Center for Technology and Society at: adl.org/CTS.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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