University of South Florida

College of Arts & Sciences


Featured event speaker Siva Vaidhyanathan. (Photo courtesy of Siva Vaidhyanathan)

Featured event speaker Siva Vaidhyanathan. (Photo courtesy of Siva Vaidhyanathan)

CAS Democracy and Citizenship Speakers Series to feature Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan

The USF College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Judy Genshaft Honors College will host Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan, Robertson Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginiaas the featured speaker for the Democracy and Citizenship Speakers Series on September 28.

Vaidhyanathan, who also serves as the director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia, is a columnist for The Guardian and has written for many other periodicals, including The New York Times, Wired, Bloomberg View, American Scholar, Reason, Dissent, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times Magazine,, BookForum, Columbia Journalism Review, Washington Post, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Book Review, and The Nation. He is also frequent contributor to public radio programs.

The lecture, “Digital Democracy and Digital Sovereignty: How China, Russia, Europe, and the United States are Forging a Fractured, New, Digital Ecosystem,” set to begin at 6:00 p.m. and will explain the idea of ‘digital sovereignty,’ the ways that a nation creates and enforces its own sense of what should be allowed and watched on digital networks.

Associate professor and associate chair Dr. Joshua Scacco. (Photo by Alessandra Casanova)

Associate professor and associate chair Dr. Joshua Scacco. (Photo by Alessandra Casanova)

For students who transfer from other institutions, this event fulfills an opportunity for rigorous debate as mandated by the State of Florida Civics Literacy graduation requirement. Students who attend and wish to meet this requirement will need to provide proof of attendance by taking a photo during the event.

Dr. Joshua Scacco, associate professor and associate chair in the Department of Communication in CAS, will assist in moderating the talk and the question-and-answer portion of the event.

Scacco was a panelist for a previous Democracy and Citizenship Speakers Series lecture, which was held in April of this year.

“Understanding democracy and its components—including the rule of law, separation of powers, checks and balances, respect for civil and human rights, and freedom of expression—is important for awareness in how political leaders and everyday individuals can ensure that the guardrails of democracy are constantly monitored and secured,” Scacco said, regarding the importance of the context of these discussions. “The work of democracy requires constant vigilance and effort. These events are reminders as well as tools for how we all can do the important work in a democracy together.”

As for what he hopes attendees will take away from the event, Scacco shared that as technology evolves, individuals need to understand how governments and political leaders use these technologies to meet particular goals.

“Some of these goals strengthen democracy while others may not,” he explained. “Understanding how technology facilitates and hinders democratic processes, whether here in the United States or internationally, is important for the type of democracy-focused society that we should work toward.”

illustration of the Capitol building

Scacco hopes attendees will take the lessons learned from this event and find ways to apply it to everyday life.

“Regardless of career trajectories and life goals, we all live in an interconnected, global community,” he said. “Awareness and knowledge of how governments and political actors are using communication technologies to meet particular goals can inform decision-making by everyday individuals. These decisions may impact our civic and political engagement.”

To learn more about this event and register to attend, please visit the CAS Democracy and Citizenship Speakers Series event page.

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About CAS

The College of Arts and Sciences is the intellectual heart of the University of South Florida. We are a community of teachers and scholars united in the belief that broadly educated people are the basis of a just, free, and prosperous society. By focusing on the big questions facing all of humanity, we prepare students for successful, socially responsible personal and professional lives. By conducting innovative, interdisciplinary research and scholarship, we advance knowledge in ways that prepare us to address complex social and scientific problems and enhance the quality of life for people and communities.