Rhodes University Academic Joins The Inaugural International Panel For The Newly-Established Information Environment

Lecturer in Rhodes University’s School of Journalism & Media Studies, Dr Chikezie Uzuegbunam, has been selected among other international research scientists to join the IPIE, the International Panel on the Information Environment.

We are thrilled to announce that a distinguished academic from Rhodes University has been selected as a member of the inaugural international panel for the newly-established information environment. This prestigious appointment highlights the individual’s expertise and contribution to the field, recognizing their valuable insights and commitment to shaping the future of information management.

As a member of this esteemed panel, the Rhodes University academic will play a vital role in shaping the policies, strategies, and frameworks that will govern the evolving information landscape. Their involvement will help ensure that the information environment is robust, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of societies in an increasingly digital era.

Being part of the inaugural international panel presents an exceptional opportunity for collaboration and knowledge sharing among experts from diverse backgrounds. The collective expertise of the panel members will contribute to the development of innovative approaches to information management, addressing emerging challenges and identifying new opportunities for research, education, and public engagement.

The inclusion of a Rhodes University academic in this influential panel is a testament to the institution’s commitment to academic excellence and its position as a global leader in the field of information studies. This appointment will further enhance the university’s reputation and provide a platform for the academic to showcase their expertise on an international stage.

 

Dr Uzuegbunam said, “I was inspired to get on board when I received a special invitation. A scholar who knows my work put my name forward to the IPIE Secretariat, and they contacted me. I accepted the invitation because of the initiative’s alignment with my current research interests in mis/disinformation in Africa and the impact of emerging technologies on our world.”

The IPIE was officially launched on 24 May 2023 in Washington, DC. It is an independent global science organisation committed to providing actionable scientific knowledge about threats to the world’s information environment. IPIE aims to advance high-quality, policy-relevant research on algorithmic bias, manipulation, and misinformation for policymakers globally. The IPIE will provide a forum for researchers to share their findings and work with policymakers to develop evidence-based solutions to the information environment’s challenges.

Dr Uzuegbunam will be providing his contributions and expertise in two countries, South Africa and Nigeria. “I am of Nigerian origin and a permanent resident of, and working in, South Africa. I consider myself an ambassador for both countries, which are very dear to me. I will be working to provide research, policy advice, and support to the IPIE in both countries because of my years of experience working in these two contexts and my familiarity with both landscapes. African countries need to be a strong part of the global conversation on the impact of the information environment. IPIE affiliates like myself will ensure our voices are not silent within these global conversations on mitigating and ending information disorders. We will provide neutral assessments of the condition of the global information environment in our locations and evaluate the best policy solutions for addressing threats to that environment,” said Dr Uzuegbunam.

He further stated that he had already contributed to the IPIE before its official launch in May. “I have been advising on and supporting a media and publicity strategy for the IPIE in South Africa and Nigeria. This includes suggesting critical informational issues facing African countries and suggesting networks to work with and collaborate with. In the future, I will contribute to the IPIE’s three core panels: Ethics, Methodology, and Membership, to drive the research and policy conversations forward. Africa-based affiliates like myself will work with the organisation to bring key partners to the continent, host events here, and initiate collaborations with the government and the public. The overarching goal is this: to commit ourselves to building a healthier information environment locally, regionally, and worldwide.”

Dr Uzuegbunam was recently in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, attending the International Communication Association (ICA) global conference. He chaired a session on “Mobility as Central for Mobile Communication” on 26 May and presented his research on mobile devices and health on 28 May. The title of his presentation was “Young People’s Health Imaginaries in Everyday Life: Using Digital and Social Media for Health Information-Seeking”, which is based on his recent research.

 

Following the IPIE’s launch at the Nobel Prize Summit on 24 May, a meeting of the affiliates and the Chair of IPIE, Professor Phil Howard, was held at the ICA conference.

We extend our warmest congratulations to the Rhodes University academic on this remarkable achievement. Their participation in the inaugural international panel for the newly-established information environment is not only a recognition of their outstanding contributions but also a testament to their dedication in advancing knowledge and understanding in this critical field. We eagerly anticipate the valuable contributions they will make and the positive impact they will have on shaping the future of the information landscape.

Dr Uzuegbunam also expressed his gratitude to Rhodes University for travel support.

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