Story

Jennie Phillips
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I am studying in the Leadership, Higher and Adult Education (LHAE) program at OISE [Ontario Institute for Studies in Education] ​as well as the Dynamics of Global Change program at the Munk School of Global Affairs​. My research looks at digital crisis response networks, i.e., how citizens leverage technology to respond to crises in cyberspace. Specifically I look at the risks associated with responding to crises online, e.g. digital, physical, and psychological risks, and study how to apply organizational resilience theory to digital response networks to mitigate risk. This research is funded by the University of Toronto for years one and two, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Two-Year Doctoral Award for years three and four.

The past four years at the University of Toronto have been a fabulous experience; I have been humbled to meet and work with some great minds. I have worked with the Citizen Lab, which is both high-profile in its research and profound in its impact on raising awareness and influencing policy around privacy and digital surveillance both locally and overseas. OISE has been incredibly flexible, granting me the autonomy to research an area beyond the usual scope of my program, and professors have been supportive in collaborating on my research that is distant from their personal interests.

My work through the Citizen Lab has opened many opportunities for me to travel and speak at conferences. I have presented at conferences across North America and overseas, including the United Nations-led Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Bali, Indonesia, and the Information Activism Camp in Milan, Italy. I have attended the Freedom of Expression conference in Bangkok, Thailand, and the Iran Cyber Dialogue in Valencia, Spain. Each experience has given me the opportunity to talk about my research and to learn about new facets.

I was recently accepted for a three-month internship with the UN at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). I’ll spend September through December 2015 in Geneva where I will complete some of my doctoral research.

The connections made with fellow academics and practitioners have also created many opportunities for local and international collaboration, as well as ongoing support and exchange of ideas and research. As you move through your studies—whether it’s sharing a different take on some of your readings, analyzing current literature in the media with your research lens, or the preliminary sharing of some of your research findings—get into the practice of sharing what you learn. It will make the writing process easier. It will build your reputation and publication history.

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