The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University announced its Institute for Rebooting Social Media’s inaugural cohort of visiting scholars for the 2022-23 academic year, which includes Cal State San Bernardino assistant professor of journalism studies Gregory Gondwe.

Gondwe is joining the institute to explore how social media influencers in Sub-Saharan Africa are “decolonizing and outsmarting” digital media platforms. His work will examine questions of digital governance, surveillance, censorship, algorithms and resistance.

I am happy to be representing Cal State San Bernardino and the Department of Communication Studies,” Gondwe said. “It is humbling that I am among the nine selected individuals across the globe to serve as a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Institute for Social Media Rebooting.”

A three-year “popup” research initiative, the Institute for Rebooting Social Media, is designed to accelerate progress addressing social media’s most urgent problems. The institute will convene world-class practitioners, policymakers, scholars and students to improve the future of social media and online communication.

This year’s inaugural cohort of scholars from a variety of disciplines will use their time during the 2022-23 academic year to collaborate with one another on existing work and begin new lines of inquiry.

“I so much look forward to the experience, the networking, and especially the collaboration with a vibrant team of researchers that I am part of,” Gondwe said. “I believe I will learn a lot from the experience. It is an endeavor I hope to utilize as a teacher and researcher for the benefit of CSUSB.”

The visiting scholars will spend a portion of the academic year in residence at the Berkman Klein Center’s new home in the Reginald F. Lewis Law Center at Harvard Law School. In addition to their own projects, scholars will work with Harvard students, staff and affiliates, and the broader Berkman Klein community, with the goal of producing research that is both academically rigorous and accessible to diverse audiences.

The Visiting Scholars Program is part of the Institute for Rebooting Social Media’s larger portfolio of programming, research and educational opportunities. The program will run annually throughout the three-year duration of the institute, strengthening the community of interdisciplinary scholars tackling the most challenging problems of social media.

Gondwe, who joined CSUSB in 2021, researches contemporary media ecosystems and their implications on society. His scholarly works interrogate the effects of persuasive media messages across cultural and geographical boundaries. His dissertation, “China in African Newsrooms: Harnessing the Effects of Pro-And-Counter Attitudinal Chinese News Agenda in the Zambian Media,” attests to some of his approaches. Some other works include cross-national studies about mis/disinformation in sub-Saharan Africa related to gender, geo-location, age and media literacy. Gondwe’s research works have appeared in various peer-reviewed journals, including Digital Journalism, International Journal of Communication, Journalism Practice, Journalism Studies, and African Journalism Studies.

Gondwe also accepted an invitation last year to join a team of “think tanks” as a Research Fellow for the African Center for the Study of the United States at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa to explore the trilateral relationship of Africa, China and the U.S.

“For this position, I am usually invited for virtual symposia, meetings, and writing think-tank pieces,” he said. “I have also been given access to data and relevant materials for research.”

Gondwe received his journalism and political science education from the University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Oregon; and St. Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT). Previously, Gondwe served as a priest student where he studied philosophy and theology. His work experience includes serving as a journalist, teacher and researcher both in the U.S. and in several African countries.