Education faculty member named Belfer Fellow

Jessica Buterbaugh
May 21, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Gabriela Richard, assistant professor of education (learning, design, and technology) at Penn State, is one of four scholars from across the United States to be named a Belfer Fellow (second cohort) by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Center for Technology and Society.

"I am honored to be in the second cohort of Belfer fellows and to engage, not only in research, but conversations on how policy and industry can move forward in addressing complex issues around design and inclusive engagement," said Richard, who will receive up to $50,000 to engage in a research project in coordination with the Center for Technology and Society.

Richard's research focuses on how diverse youth and adults engage in digital games, informal learning, digital identity and professional pursuits. She has written extensively about video games, diversity and inclusive design, and co-edited the third book in an influential series on gender and gaming, "Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Intersectional perspectives and inclusive designs in gaming" (ETC/CMU Press).

"Research in the field, including my own, has demonstrated how powerful digital and analog (or nondigital) games can be for engaging in a variety of content, as well as socio-cultural knowledge," she said. "Nondigital games such as board games, cards, dominoes, hopscotch, basketball, etc. have been used in every documented culture in the world to transmit cultural ideas, values, practices and knowledge systems. However, gaming, particularly online gaming, also has demonstrated how design decisions and unfettered interactions can lead to some systemic hostile and exclusionary acts, particularly against women, girls, ethnic and racial minoritized groups, and queer and trans players.

"It has been an honor to learn that ADL has read my research and is interested in continuing to support it as it expands into esports and livestreaming, both of which represent a monumental shift from gaming as intimately participatory to a form of widespread viewership and entertainment for those who may or may not play," Richard said.

The Belfer Fellowship program advances ADL’s work by promoting cyberhate awareness and digital citizenship, as well as implementing these projects for the wider social good. Other recipients of the fellowship are Libby Hemphill, associate professor of information at the University of Michigan; Brendan Nyhan, professor of public policy at the University of Michigan; and Ari Ezra Waldman, professor of law at New York Law School.

“I am proud our fellowship continues to attract leaders in their respective fields who are dedicated to fighting cyberhate with new ideas and technologies,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL. “We are looking forward to partnering with these fellows on their new research projects and working toward our collective goals by presenting novel solutions to influence and inform steps forward in the online space.”

ADL’s Center for Technology and Society will work with the new fellows as they pursue research in previously unexplored areas. The fellows will also augment ADL’s ongoing research efforts to help quantify and qualify online hate in a variety of social media sites, gaming platforms and other fringe online communities. As ADL continues to work on multiple fronts to make the online space less hateful, the fellows’ research will expand upon this expertise and activity. Read more about the Belfer Fellowship and the Center for Technology and Society at adl.org/CTS.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 19, 2019