The Nebraska Governance and Technology Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has received a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant, made to the University of Nebraska Foundation, will support research and programming at the interdisciplinary center based in the College of Law.
“We’re thrilled to have the Knight Foundation’s support as we continue building out this new interdisciplinary focus on the regulatory challenges created by new technologies,” said Gus Hurwitz, the center’s director. “Journalism and media are ground zero for so many of these challenges, and the Knight Foundation’s support in bringing them into this collaboration opens up incredible new possibilities for programming and research.”
The Nebraska Governance and Technology Center studies the ever-changing relationship between law and technology, how the law can regulate technology and how new technologies affect what the law can do. The center consists of an interdisciplinary team of faculty, students and researchers across the university, housed at the College of Law and working in partnership with the colleges of Business, Engineering, and Journalism and Mass Communications.
The center is one of 20 projects that received a total of $1.7 million from the Knight Foundation to focus on research to inform the public conversation on current issues in technology policy, including free expression online and the scale and power of digital platforms. These grants, which come amid growing debate over technology’s role in our democracy, will help ensure that society is equipped to make evidence-based decisions on how to govern and manage the now-digital — and increasingly privately owned — public square.
The awards mark the culmination of the Knight Foundation’s $50 million commitment to catalyze new research to inform how technology is transforming democracy. Knight’s overall investment has led to the establishment of new research centers at five universities around the country and is supporting a range of ongoing research at a growing network of institutions of higher learning, independent research organizations and policy think tanks focused on understanding technology’s impact on democracy and helping to inform solutions.
“As we proceed from a pandemic to an election, everything about technology is getting bigger: the companies, their role in our lives and the debate about how to manage what we say and do online,” said Sam Gill, Knight Foundation’s senior vice president and chief program officer. “From COVID-19-related misinformation to labeled posts by the president, it’s clear that we need to chart a path forward about how to best protect democratic values in a digital age.”