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How technology influences political agendas on the world stage

NOV. 2-3: Policy-makers, cyber-security researchers and other experts converge on Concordia for an international conference
October 18, 2016
By Elizabeth Bloodgood

“Students influence and are influenced by social media — and this can also influence policy.” “Students influence and are influenced by social media — and this can also influence policy.”

Elizabeth Bloodgood is associate chair of Concordia’s Department of Political Science, in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Over the past two decades, the widespread digitization of global communication has changed international relations and diplomacy in ways we have yet to fully grasp.

Rapid improvements in information and communications technology (ICT) have provided cities, citizens, global corporations, civil society groups, and non-governmental organizations with the means to influence political agendas on the world stage.

But the advancement of ICT has a darker side: challenges to international security, from cyber warfare to extremist groups using online recruitment. 

Elizabeth Bloodgood Elizabeth Bloodgood

Questions of global internet governance will be progressively interwoven with "traditional" global policy-making.

As Roland Paris, prime minister Justin Trudeau's former foreign affairs adviser, noted: "The fragmentation of mass communications is a symptom of more profound change that is taking place in the structure of power. It is diffusing not only from rich to rising states, or from North to South or West to East, but also from states to non-state groups and individuals — and at the most fundamental level, from hierarchies to decentralized networks."

Educational institutions also play a formative role. Researchers at Concordia University contribute to hundreds of decentralized interconnected networks at the science-policy interface. Students influence and are influenced by social media — and this can also influence policy.

Global Diplomacy in the Digital Age

The challenge posed by changing communications technologies on global governance and North American diplomacy is the subject of an upcoming workshop at Concordia on November 2.

Global Diplomacy in the Digital Age: Decoding how Technology is Transforming International Relations brings together policy-makers from Canada and the United States with experts in digital diplomacy, cyber security challenges, radical extremism and global governance.

Organized in collaboration with UQAM's Montreal Institute of International Studies, the event is thematically connected to the German-sponsored Global Diplomacy Lab and funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Its aim is to develop ways to build more resilient societies — ones that are able to use technology to lessen social conflict, and come up with more responsive diplomatic platforms to address international problems.

In three round-table discussions, participants will address how new technologies effect the conduct and content of interstate diplomacy; how government regulations can hope to keep pace with technological change; and how social media has been used for radicalization and recruitment by violent non-state actors.

A public discussion, Global Diplomacy in the Digital Age, takes place on Wednesday, November 2, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., in the J.A. DeSève Cinema.

New Digital Technology and International Relations Observatory

Following the workshop, Concordia’s Department of Political Science and the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) will launch the Digital Technology and International Relations Observatory.

The first group of its kind in Canada, the observatory will serve as a focal point for ongoing research. It will connect researchers and policymakers working on topics like digital diplomacy, ICT's policy implications, mobilization via social media, and the global growth in non-state and sub-state activists.

Register to participate in Concordia's Global Diplomacy in the Digital Age public discussion, on November 2.

Find out more about the upcoming Global Diplomacy Lab, also hosted by Concordia, from November 3 to 6.



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