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Digital technology is transforming the relationships between governments, and citizens.

Faculty members in our department are actively exploring the implications of digital technology for both democratic and authoritarian regimes, as well as its transformative role in global governance. Some of the themes include: the ways which digitization and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are changing the configuration of public spheres in democracies, allowing greater freedom of expression, facilitating citizens' ability to challenge or promote democratic rights in authoritarian regimes; the implications of machine intelligence for electoral politics, political communication, and voting behavior; the spread of fake news and hate speech by anonymous online citizens that promote mass violence or chaos; how digitization enables whistleblowers and hackers, promoting new forms of accountability and transparency; and the implications for democracy of the use of computer code to influence or control individuals.

Tony Porter

Tony Porter is interested in all aspects of the role of numbers in transnational governance, including the implications of these for democracy. The challenges and opportunities that digitization creates for democracy have complex cross-border dimensions, from the competition in cyberspace between authoritarian and democratic polities, to how conventional public authority relates to the roles in governance of global firms such as Facebook.

Netina Tan

Netina Tan is interested in the sources of authoritarian resilience in the age of democracy. Her work investigates and examines the ways which formal and informal democratic institutions and practices could be manipulated for undemocratic outcomes. This includes the uses and implications of digital technology and social media on changing public opinion, voting behavior, inter-party competition, and racial or gender inequalities.  

photo of Netina Tan

Netina Tan

Ph.D. Political Science, University of British Columbia2011

Associate Professor | University Scholar, 2021-2025

photo of Clifton van der Linden

Clifton van der Linden

Assistant Professor | Director, Digital Society Lab | Academic Director, Master of Public Policy Program

Clifton van der Linden

Clifton van der Linden is interested in the implications of digital technology for both the study and practice of politics. He is actively engaged in the study of relationships between digital technologies and patterns of democratic participation—in particular, how emergent technologies are reconstituting ideas and norms of the contemporary political order. His research includes questions around the role and effects of online media in political communication, the implications of Artificial Intelligence for political agency, as well as the applications of Big Data in the representation of public opinion.

Karen Bird

Karen Bird conducts comparative research on the political representation of women, ethnic minorities and indigenous groups in countries around the world. She is interested in who has a seat at the table, and how to improve institutional mechanisms and dynamics of representation to adequately reflect and channel the interests, views and needs of diverse groups in democratic decision-making. Current and recent SSHRC funded research projects include Ethnic Quotas and Political Representation: A Global Study which examines the design and impact of reserved seats and candidacies for members of designated ethnic or indigenous groups under various electoral systems and circumstances of party competition. She is also a co-investigator on the research project First Nations Digital Democracy which looks at the impact of digital technology on Indigenous participation, self-determination and governance.


photo of Karen Bird

Karen Bird

Ph.D. Political Science, University of Minnesota1997