Social Media and Social Justice: How the Use of New Media Technologies Impact Individuals and Society Summer Scholars Session II

In the years following its inception, utopian narratives of social media promised unfettered access to information, markets, and relationships that would allow users to create wealth and contest power structures by building platform-based enterprises and values-based virtual communities. While some of these benefits have accrued to individuals and society, a significant body of research demonstrates that the reality of social media’s impact on the world is much more complex. Grounded in both key sociological texts and Catholic Social Teaching, this course focuses on empirical research concerning how “Digital Divides” - differences in individuals’ access to, participation in, and benefits from using Internet-based technologies – exist on geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic dimensions. It also examines the important role skill and literacy play in mitigating these differences. With a particular focus on the current state of social media and digital technology, we will interrogate the ways social media may be harnessed in service of or in opposition to the creation of a more just world.

Course Schedule

This course will be offered during Summer Scholars Session II (July 1 - 15, 2023) on campus.

Academic Director

Erin Flynn Klawitter, Ph.D.

Erin Flynn Klawitter, Ph.D.

A scholar of digital inequality and an experienced higher education administrator, Erin Flynn Klawitter serves as associate director of the Notre Dame-IBM Technology Ethics Lab, the applied arm of the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center (ND TEC).

Klawitter holds a Ph.D. in media, technology, and society from Northwestern University. Her doctoral research focused on the economic consequences of digital divides for creative entrepreneurs and was recognized with best dissertation awards from both the Communication and Technology Division of the International Communication Association and the School of Communication at Northwestern University.

Klawitter’s interests are informed by her professional experience leading digital transformation efforts at Notre Dame, where she was the University’s first content strategist. She has most recently served as associate director of the Notre Dame Scholars’ Program, where her leadership of the University’s merit scholarship selection process has resulted in increased representation of recipients from diverse backgrounds.