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Leading The Fight for Truth

Interdisciplinary research teams defend democracy in the complex digital age



Democratic societies rely on citizens making  informed decisions based on facts. Disinformation and misinformation are on the rise globally, threatening the fundamental health of democracy here and abroad. GW’s Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics (IDDP), part of the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, is combating this digital crisis by convening researchers from disciplines across the university alongside journalists, policymakers, and the public to investigate attacks on truth and develop solutions at the intersection of digital technology, media, and democracy.

IDDP is supported by a $5 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Since 2009, GW’s federal research funding has grown by nearly 76 percent, and is #1 in the nation’s capital.

IDDP began at the dawn of the pandemic, delving into misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and uncovering the organizations behind misleading Facebook advertisements. Now, the institute’s world-class research spans fields from public health to governance and most recently, artificial intelligence. IDDP research regularly explores the complex impact of the social media giant Facebook, recently publishing the first large-scale study of political images on the platform, finding that 23 percent conveyed false information.

With direct links to policymakers around the world, civil society organizations, and leaders at social media companies, IDDP is a trusted partner. IDDP scholars are working alongside changemakers to develop new approaches that address disinformation, hate speech, and online harassment. Recently, the institute’s experts played a leading role in shaping the European Union’s Digital Services Act, and in building platform transparency initiatives in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.



Research Philanthropy in Action




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Optimizing Tech

GW Engineering professors, including Gina Adam, Ahmed Louri and others, are accelerating how fast and effectively computer chips can operate. Through collaboration with national research labs like the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and with support from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force and other agencies, GW engineers are designing chips inspired by one of the most energy-efficient and powerful computers in existence: the human brain.

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Shaping the Future of AI

GW is co-leading an ambitious, multi-institutional effort to develop new artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that build trust. Funded by a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the NSF Institute for Trustworthy AI in Law & Society (TRAILS) unites specialists in AI, machine learning, systems engineering, social science, law, and public policy to build AI systems that center ethics, human rights, and input from impacted communities.