In October 2018, the University of Florida awarded $1.25 million over a two-year startup phase to launch the Consortium for Trust in Media and Technology.
We believe that the crisis of trust affecting the nation and world is, because of its complexity, best addressed through a multiplicity of disciplines, approaches, systems, and tools by a leading educational institution that is impartial to the current platforms.
Research – both theoretical and applied — is key to addressing future impacts of technology on an informed society. This can’t be effectively tackled in verticals; it must be a lateral endeavor, looking across disciplines at human behavior, social networks, technological applications, and the emergence of new policy and law. As digital technology and social networks become more integrated into our daily lives, trust and verifiability are forthcoming issues that very few technologists are equipped to address.
Yet we believe that a collaboration of technologists with social scientists – working in areas such as communications, anthropology, psychology, political science, medicine and law – can open up these issues to new discoveries and perspectives.
Our mission is to foster a diverse community of scholars and thought leaders who will a) build an unparalleled ecosystem for the study of how media and
technology can become more trustworthy, and b) develop programs for the application of new knowledge and tools and the creation of new policy and law.
This initiative was proposed by the College of Journalism and Communications (CJC), in partnership with the Wertheim College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Informatics Institute, the George Smathers Libraries and the Division of Student Services. Additional partners are coming onboard, including most recently the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Other colleges that will be recruited are the Levin College of Law, the College of Medicine and the Warrington College of Business. Over time, every unit of the University will play a role in establishing UF as a beacon of trust scholarship.
We are currently in the early stages of organizing the consortium around four pillars:
Media and Communication
Cognition and Behavior
Technology and Networks
Policy and Law
Steps taken thus far include an inventory of the work related to trust that is already being done on UF’s campus. Our preliminary assessment of research on trust has affirmed these four pillars. We have developed a concept map that shows how individual research topics are connected to one of more of these pillars. This formative assessment showed numerous areas of related research interests and potential for collaboration.
Our approach the Consortium will be manifold. It will include curation of existing relevant research to build an unparalleled repository of research and best practices on trust and truth; the acceleration of new directions in research that will illuminate the dynamics of trust in media and technology; collaboration with dozens of scholars and experts around the world; development of trust-building technologies and monitoring systems; applied research and experimentation; testing of tools and approaches using UF’s own suite of media properties; engagement of an external advisory board of experts in media, industry, government and nonprofits; involvement of world-renowned trust advocates through a fellowship program; partnerships with major media and technology companies; thought leadership through the use of strategic communications; and curriculum and training to develop the next generation of trustworthy practitioners.