When: June 12-16, 2017
Where: Split, Croatia
Registration costs: $750.00

  • $500 deposit due March 30, 2017
  • Food, lodging, air travel, and transportation are not included in tuition
  • Scholarships available for students from host universities

Click here for the full Seminar Program.

Split, Croatia

The phenomenon of digital connectivity is increasingly transforming the way humans interact and deal with problems of collective action. Such a paradigmatic change is expanding the frontiers of research in terms of theories, methods and analysis. Considering this context, faculty from Mississippi State University, George Mason University, the University of Zagreb and the University of Split will lead a week-long Seminar on Digital Data and Security. The Seminar will take place at the University of Split in Split, Croatia, and it will focus on Big Data and Security-related research questions as they are studied in Social Sciences, Policy and Communication Studies.

The seminar consists of a series of sessions in which participants will engage with lecturers to learn and discuss methods and theories surrounding the use of digital data in security-related studies. Participants will have the opportunity to gather knowledge from pertinent case study and learn updated methodologies for data analysis.

This seminar is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the afore mentioned institutions. We expect this effort to continue and further expand by creating a larger network of institutions interested in participating in the ongoing conversation about the role of digital data in managing problems of collective action, such as security, from both the practitioner and researcher standpoint. Participation in the seminar will benefit both students and researchers by expanding their knowledge about the realm of both practical and theoretical approaches to utilization of socially derived digital data for overcoming collective action dilemmas.

This is a photo of the universities that will lead the Seminars on Big Data and Security

For more information, please email: gina.mendez@ssrc.msstate.edu

For an information package about Split, Croatia, click here.

Panel Descriptions

PANEL 1 – Big Data, Digital Activism and Security
Led by:
Dr. Viktorija Car
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Political Science, Media and Communication Department, e-mail: viktorija.car@fpzg.hr

The idea that internet and digital media democratize the society(1) has been questioned many times from different angles. Henry Jenkins argues that convergence culture, based on the new media technology, helps consumers envision a liberated public sphere, free of network controls, in a decentralized media environment. Sometimes corporate and grassroots efforts reinforce each other, creating closer, more rewarding relations between media producers and consumers, sometimes these two forces are at war(2). The question to argue is if the new technologies endanger democratic political culture or they promise civic renewal.

It is true that the internet age and Web 2.0 technology has enabled the shift from one-to-many to many-to-many communication, which provides support for the heterogeneity of communicational content and activities. It brings the advent of more multidirectional forms of participation as well, which is very important for democratic societies. But, what happens when technology is used for activities which final goals are not democratic, when such activities violate privacy or human rights, when they promote national or ethnic exclusiveness, or terrorism?

Digital activism is defined as the practice of using digital technology for social, political, economic or environmental change, for promotion of different ideologies, for social mobilization towards promotion of democracy and tolerance, or exclusiveness and hate(3). Mary Joyce’s book Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics of Change (2010) helps to distinguish between different approaches to digital activism. The speed, reliability, scale, and low cost of the digital network are what enable the great scope and reach of contemporary activism, and digital activism encompasses all social and political campaigning practices that use digital network infrastructure(4).

“The infrastructure of digital activism is based on the digital network – an interconnected group of devices that use digital code to transmit information. The beauty of networks is that connectivity is distributed. Networks do not connect us only to the center; they link us to each other as well. And, when large numbers of citizens are able to more easily connect to one another, to send and receive original content, and to coordinate action, they are able to create effective political movements(5) .”

Digital activism is a practice that has evolved at the global level during the last two decades, although it is still not possible to talk about a system of rules and instructions that digital activists strictly follow to achieve the desired goals. Still, we can recognize different types of digital activism, as well as different strategies and tactics, tools and applications the activists use(6).

For this panel we invite papers on how digital activists are taking the opportunities offered by digital media and digital platforms and how they are using big data for their social or political activities, and on the other hand how their activities are related to security issues e.g. privacy, human security, national security, terrorism, etc.

1. Jenkins, H. and Thorburn, D. 2003. Democracy and New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
2. Jenkins, H. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York and London: New York University Press.
3. Joyce, M. 2010. Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics of Change. New York: International Debate Education Association.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid., p. 2
6. Car, V. 2014. “Digital Activism. Digital Media and Civic Engagement in Croatia”. Southeastern Europe 38 (2-3): 213-231. DOI: 10.1163/18763332-03802002.

PANEL 2 – Food Security in the 21st Century
Led by:
Drs. Leslie Hossfeld, Gina Rico Mendez,
Mississippi State University, Department of Sociology and Social Science Research Center, e-mail: lhossfeld@soc.msstate.edu

Given technological developments in agriculture, transportation, and food storage it is reasonable to think that, if properly distributed, annual global food production would be sufficient to satisfy global demand. Indeed, as a simple measure of food security the annual growth rate of food production since the end of WWII indicates that humans produce more than enough food to satisfy the nutritional demands of every person on earth by a wide margin(1). However, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) data suggests that between 2012 and 2014 805 million people were likely to be chronically undernourished(2). Why is this the case? Agricultural economists suggest that the key dynamics driving undernourishment and food insecurity tend to be lack of income and lack of access. Put another way, while there exists an ample supply of food at the global level, local variables conspire to limit food availability to populations most in need. The nature of food security is complex given the combination of human physiological needs, individual preferences, and collective institutions; three elements that frame contemporary discussions about the proper conceptualization of food security.

This panel aims to explore the social and policy implications of the shift in the concept of food security, moving from a nation-centered perspective to a globally-shared responsibility to satisfy nutritional needs(3) (Maxwell, 1996). For instance, there is an increasing reliance on food imports and industrialized food production to supply national feeding needs. In turn, it has increased the risks of diet-related diseases, such as diabetes. While food security initiatives and policies has been a boon to world health, this panel aims to discuss how it has also brought about the externalities of the current model of global food production.

1. Tweeten, L. (1999). The economics of global food security. Review of Agricultural Economics, 21(2), 473–488. http://doi.org/10.2307/1349892
2. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). (2014b). The state of food insecurity in the world. Strengthening the enabling environment for food security and nutrition. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4030e.pdf
3. Maxwell, S. (1996). Food security: A post-modern perspective. Food Policy, 21(2), 155–170. http://doi.org/10.1016/0306-9192(95)00074-7

PANEL 3 – George Mason University Panel
Led by:
Dr. Tonya Neaves
George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government, Centers on the Public Service, e-mail: tneaves@gmail.com

George Mason University, in conjunction with Mississippi State University, the University of Zagreb, and the University of Split, is proud to offer a study abroad in the form that explores utilizing big data to inform the social and policy sciences on a number of key issues facing both the United States and European Union. The program is offered to Faculty members, post-doctoral researchers, and graduate. Advanced undergraduate students – that is, juniors and seniors – will be accepted on a case by case basis.

PANEL 4 – Migration and Security
Led by:
Dr. Dagmar Radin
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Political Science, e-mail: dradin@fpzg.hr

The gathering and analysis of data is not a new phenomenon in the area of security and foreign policy and it has been a regular practice among intelligence communities around the world for many years. The collection of large amounts of data around the globe and its expansion of use by the intelligence communities and governments has been facilitated by new technologies facilitating the collection of large amounts of data at an unprecedented pace. This has significantly shaped foreign policy and international security from monitoring and predicting foreign threats, to international travel monitoring, and point of entry measures, to leaking of large amounts of security and financial data on the web, among many others. While the promoters of big data revel in the insights and new knowledge that lay behind the vast databases, others question the reliability of the data itself as well as the biases inherent in the algorithms used to scrutinize threats.

This panel invites papers from a broad range of disciplines that address the use of big data in the context of national and global security, as well as foreign policy and international relations.

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