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#CONNEXIONS
CONFERENCE

global media
in diplomacy + foreign policy

From April 10-12, 2023, The University of Texas at Austin hosted the #Connexions Conference on global media in diplomacy and foreign policy. #Connexions created an international space for discourse on modern media and technology in state affairs to help address the critical need for informed and expert leadership in the information sphere, promoting a safer and healthier digital environment that in turn shapes the direction of history. Of main focus was the chaos of information itself and how it informs and impedes the creation, execution, and communication of policy and the effective conduct of diplomacy. Academics, policymakers, and media practitioners tackled some of the key issues of our ever-evolving media environment, including propaganda, disinformation, social media, cyber warfare, artificial intelligence, and the vulnerabilities of technologies that govern and drive global connectivity.

Many thanks to all who participated and made this event a success!!

Image by Lewis Guapo

#Info_Disorder

What goes on in the digital sphere does not merely interact with reality—it fashions reality. However, this conceptual framework is not new. Since well before the birth of mass media technologies, the world has been flooded with information. In fact, the terms disinformation and misinformation date back to the late 19th century, as early as the advent of radio, yet they have only recently graduated to mainstream lexicon as technology has accelerated, bringing the information battlefront to the palm of one's hand. ​

 

However, leadership in this digital age is strongly lacking. To even begin addressing the evident and growing global problem of “information disorder," ironically requires further information: the revisiting of history and context, an understanding of regional disparities and conflicts, and an investigation of state methodologies in dealing with media and info wars. Nations can learn from each other in developing strategic solutions and policies to promote a safer and healthier digital environment that in turn shapes the direction of history. 

 

Thus, in an effort to bring attention to the need for both guidance and a convergence of policy with information, leaders in media, technology, academia, and political, civil, and military service will convene to discuss the history of mass media and propaganda, the rise of fake news and mis/disinformation, the development of social media and cyber warfare, and the development of state media strategy from the 90s and predictions for the future of the media landscape. Panels will feature the work of past and present media organizations and lay bare the many information challenges, particularly in countries like China, Russia, and Afghanistan as well as in the Middle East and Latin America regions. Furthermore, UT Austin’s Global Disinformation Lab will be a featured research partner, presenting recent findings, policy recommendations, and solutions for governments struggling to navigate the “post-truth” world. 

#Speakers

#Goals

  • Build an international community for sharing information strategies

  • Raise awareness of the work of state-funded and independent media organizations

  • Compare digital methods in state and non-state public diplomacy

  • Emphasize the need for information leadership at the government level

  • Increase interdisciplinary understanding of media and its uses

  • Explore potential for collaboration and diplomatic ingenuity in the digital space

  • Elevate the discourse on information to the level of national security interests

  • Reassert the importance of strategic communications in international relations

#Schedule

Day 1

8:00 - 8:45 am
Central Time

WELCOME by Sonia Feigenbaum
KEYNOTE by Oksana Markarova, Ukrainian Ambassador to the US
Moderator: Myroslava Gongadze

8:45 - 9:45

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Historical Look at the Politics of US Information Warfare
Speaker: Matt Armstrong
Moderator: Jeff Trimble
Discussant: Nicholas Cull

9:45 - 10:15

The New Cold War: What Went Wrong in the 90s
Speaker: Brian Whitmore
Moderator: Jeff Trimble

10:15 - 11:00

Moody College Panel on Global Media
Panelists: Shanti Kumar, Shiv Ganesh, Wenhong Chen, Joe Straubhaar

11:00 - 12:15

The Wonderful World of Disinformation
Panelists: Jessica Dawson, Xiaozhong Liu, Lee McIntyre, Asha Rangappa
Moderator: Kiril Avramov

1:00 - 1:45

Misinformation: Can We Totally Remove It?
Speaker: Xiaozhong Liu
Moderator: Art Markman

2:00 - 2:45

The Competition for Influence: Russia, China, and the United States 
Speaker: Vivian Walker
Moderator: Jill Dougherty

2:45 - 3:45

(Dis)Information in the Land of Magical Realism
Speaker: Colonel Barbara Fick
Digital Repression: The Use of Social Media & Its Impact on the Balance of Government & Civil Society

Speaker: Brigadier General (Ret.) Boris Saavedra
Moderator: Katherina Wierschke

3:45 - 4:15

Online Platforms' Liability and Disinformation in the United States: Insights from the EU
Speaker: Jean De Meyere (UC Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

4:30 - 5:30

Global Disinformation Lab (GDIL) Presentations

5:30 - 7:30

GDIL Happy Hour (Powered by Intelligence Studies Project)

April 10, 2023