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Erhardt Graeff

Assistant Professor of Social and Computer Science, Olin College of Engineering

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About Erhardt

Graeff's research focuses on the design and use of technology for civic and political engagement; his current research examines how we measure the impact of technologies in terms of empowerment and civic learning and the ethical responsibility of technologists as stewards of democracy. Overarching themes in Graeff's writings include civic learning, youth digital activism, designing apps for civic engagement, and social media. Graeff serves as a consultant to foundations, companies, and organizations on civic engagement research and leads workshops on civic media and participatory design for students, educators, and social entrepreneurs.



"Evaluating Civic Technology Design for Citizen Empowerment," Massachusetts Institute of Technology, May 4, 2018.

Proposes empowerment-based design principles for civic technology and a prototype toolkit for evaluating the impact of civic technology on political efficacy. 

"Youth Digital Activism," United Nations World Youth Report, July 15, 2016.

Surveys contemporary trends in youth digital activism and makes policy recommendations for supporting the development of digital activists. 

"The Battle for 'Trayvon Martin': Mapping a Media Controversy Online and Off-Line" (with Matt Stempeck and Ethan Zuckerman). First Monday 19, no. 2 (2014).

Maps the media coverage and social media conversation following Trayvon Martin's death, introducing new methods and theory for understanding the networked nature of contemporary media controversies.

"What We Should Do before the Social Bots Take Over," Media in Transition 8: Public Media, Private Media. MIT, May 5, 2013.

Responds to the emergence of social bots, as a means of entertainment, research, and commercial activity, posing threats to online privacy protection. Argues for legislation that defines a general right to privacy for all U.S. citizens, addressing issues of both access and control of personal information and serving as the foundation for auditable industry design standards that inherently value and honor users' rights to privacy.