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Jessica Taylor Piotrowski has been appointed Professor of Communication in the Digital Society at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Her appointment commences on 1 August 2022. How would she describe her chair? What is its social importance?

‘Digitalization has changed how daily life is experienced'- Jessica Taylor Piotrowski (photo: Jaap Vork)

The technological transformations of our time

Piotrowski ‘s chair is focused on the Digital Society. The phrase ‘digital society’ reflects the digitalization of data in every aspect of life. ‘From public policy, economic, and governmental infrastructures, to health and educational systems, to the ways members of society work with and communicate with one another – every aspect of society has been digitized. In other words, digitalization has changed how daily life is experienced’, says Piotrowski.

Her chair will focus on questions such as: how can we be resilient to the technological transformations of our time? How can we capitalize on the opportunities that the digital society offers, but also be protected from ill effects? ‘Just as social media can be a powerful tool for disseminating accurate information quickly, it can just as quickly spread misinformation that harms us all. Covid19 surely highlighted that’, she explains.

Communication Science at the UvA is ready to become the global hub

For Piotrowski, the formation of this chair can be seen as public statement that Communication Science at the UvA is ready to become the global hub for digital society scholarship, teaching, and impact. ‘The research and teaching profile of Communication Science convincingly demonstrates a commitment to understanding the many facets of the digital society. For years already, researchers and teachers in Communication Science have been tackling questions about the digital society. They have been asking about individual skills necessary for the digital society; the ways to optimize communication with family, peers, community; and the organization of education, health, government, and mass media.’

A desire for impact

Piotrowski sees this chair position as providing her the capacity to further support impact in meaningful ways. ‘In my scholarly journey, I have been committed to impact’, she tells. ‘I have always felt that the classroom is one of the most impactful moments of my day. Indeed, Nelson Mandela’s famous quote “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” has guided my approach and faith in the education.’ Her research has similarly been fueled by a desire for impact – particularly helping youth as they navigate a complex digital world of selfies, YouTube, and TikTok.

Piotrowski is looking forward to the road ahead. ‘From shining light on the excellent scholarship housed within the department; to shaping and refining our educational curriculum; to serving as a bridge between academy and practice – I am committed to supporting my colleagues as we, together, provide guidance and understanding about the digital society.’

To learn more about Piotrowski’s scholarship and teaching, please visit her website