Laura DeNardis, the inaugural chair in Technology, Ethics and Society in the College of Arts & Sciences.
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Laura DeNardis Named Director of the Center for Digital Ethics

Laura DeNardis, an acclaimed scholar of internet governance, has been appointed the director of the Center for Digital Ethics

“The mission of the Center for Digital Ethics is clear,” said DeNardis, who previously served as a research professor in the center. “In the context of unprecedented technological change and societal transformation, our goal is to build a more ethical digital future and influence the design and governance decisions that will shape human experience for decades to come.”

The center, which brings together scholars and students from across the university, asks and seeks to answer the ethical, legal and political questions that arise from the ever-changing, ever-evolving role of technology in modern society. 

The Center at the Epicenter: Producing Research that Drives the Future 

Green text runs vertically over a black screen, representing an unknown coding language.

Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

For DeNardis, the moment is now for academia to address the unprecedented ways that technology is transforming our society. 

“Digital technologies have leapt from two-dimensional screens into the physical world all around us, from wirelessly connected cardiac appliances to environmental sensors,” said DeNardis. “This has expanded the already high stakes of digital technologies from issues of speech, economic growth and privacy to being about human safety, critical infrastructure protection and even our food supply.”

The research and academic programs produced by the Center for Digital Ethics are not only timely but needed – representing part of Georgetown’s answer to the radical changes brought about by the information age. 

“Society is being reconfigured before our eyes. The opportunities and challenges of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and quantum computing are outstripping existing social, legal, and ethical guidelines,” said DeNardis. “Georgetown has a unique obligation to advance frameworks, original research, policy engagement and teaching that brings about a more ethical digital future.” 

The Hilltop is now home to a world-class interdisciplinary network of experts addressing the most pressing questions around technology and society. 

“Georgetown has quickly established a reputation as the world’s leading place to study, teach and shape digital ethics for the betterment of humanity,” said DeNardis. “Georgetown has the history of applied and practical ethics, the interdisciplinary culture and disciplinary strengths, the distinguished faculty and the ideal location for the Center for Digital Ethics.”

DeNardis, who serves as the inaugural chair in Technology, Ethics and Society in the College of Arts & Sciences, joined the Georgetown community last year and immediately hit the ground running. She teaches as a professor in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Communication, Culture and Technology Program and serves on the steering committee for the Initiative on Technology & Society. In her new role in the Center for Digital Ethics, DeNardis shows no signs of slowing down. 

“In the past year, we have launched a new suite of undergraduate programs in technology, ethics and society (TES), including an interdisciplinary TES minor, a TES concentration and a groundbreaking new major in computer science, ethics, and society,” said DeNardis. “This week, I participated in the majors and minors fair on campus and was delighted to see the interest from students who will be well positioned to become society’s digital ethics leaders of the future.”

Prior to joining Georgetown, DeNardis worked at American University as a professor, faculty director of their Internet Governance Lab and an associate dean for faculty affairs. She also served as the executive director of the Yale Information Society Project and the research director of the Global Commission on Internet Governance.

For more than 20 years, DeNardis has consulted and advised on internet governance and architecture to Fortune 500 companies, foundations and government agencies. She is the author of seven books, including The Internet in Everything: Freedom and Security in a World with No Off Switch, published by Yale University Press, which was recognized as a Financial Times Top Technology Book of 2020.

by Hayden Frye (C’17)

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