April 3, 2018

Courtney Cogburn: Virtual Reality to Improve Race Relations

Courtney Cogburn: Virtual Reality to Improve Race Relations (Ep. 132) Columbia University School of Social Work Professor Courtney Cogburn joined Joe Miller to discuss her work with virtual reality to improve race relations. Bio Courtney Cogburn () is...

techpolicypodcast_washingtech_Courtney Cogburn

Courtney Cogburn: Virtual Reality to Improve Race Relations (Ep. 132)

Columbia University School of Social Work Professor Courtney Cogburn joined Joe Miller to discuss her work with virtual reality to improve race relations.


Courtney Cogburn (@CourtneyCogburn) is an assistant professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Columbia Population Research Center. Her research integrates principles and methodologies across psychology, stress physiology and social epidemiology to investigate relationships between racism-related stress and racial health disparities across the life course. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Her current research projects examine:

  1. the effects of cultural racism in the media on physiological, psychological and behavioral stress reactivity and moderating effects of cognitive appraisal processes;
  2. the role of structural racism in producing disease risk; and
  3. chronic psychosocial stress exposure and related implications for understanding Black/White disparities in cardiovascular health and disease between early and late adulthood.

At the end of 2014, Dr. Cogburn received an award from the Provost’s Grants Program for Junior Faculty Who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the University for a project titled “Black Face to Ferguson: A Mixed Methodological Examination of Media Racism, Media Activism and Health.”

In addition to her academic research, Dr. Cogburn works with the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is a senior advisor at the International Center Advocates Against Discrimination in NYC to educate and build community activism around issues of racism and health.

Before coming to Columbia in July 2014, Dr. Cogburn was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia, MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and PhD in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan.


Columbia School of Social Work

Experiencing Racism in VR by Courtney Cogburn (Ted Talk)

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

News Roundup

Facebook makes moves to contain Cambridge Analytica fallout

Facebook has made several moves to contain the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and salvage what remains of its integrity and public image. The company announced that it will now fact-check political photos and videos, allow you to see the personal data they have on you, and limit the sharing of your personal information with data brokers.

Meanwhile, on the legal front, Missouri’s Republican Attorney General has opened an investigation into Facebook’s data collection practices. Attorney General Josh Hawley wants to know about every instance in which Facebook shared user data with political entities, the rates they paid and whether users were notified.  In addition, Facebook will not provide evidence or testify before a U.K. parliamentary committee investigating Facebook’s use of user data. However, he will testify before Congress, and Sunny Bonnell reports in Inc. that it could happen as soon as April 10th.

In addition, housing groups are suing Facebook for allowing real estate advertisers to discriminate against mothers, the disabled and minorities, according to Jordan Pearson in Motherboard. And Ali Breland reported on a memo leaked from 2016 written by Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth suggesting the company’s expansion is justified even if it costs lives from bullying or a terrorist attack.

Sinclair, which is in the process of buying Tribune Media, has anchors read same script

Sinclair Broadcasting, the little-known media company that’s in the process of buying Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, has been accused of being a mouthpiece for conservative viewpoints. Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been seen by many to have paved the way for Sinclair by relaxing longstanding media ownership rules. Now, Deadspin has put together a video showing dozens of anchors on tv stations owned by Sinclair reciting the exact same script making the same claims about fake news that the Trump administration has been making. Sinclair now reaches 2 out of every 5 American homes, with 193 stations concentrated in midsize markets. The merger with Tribune Media would bring that number up to 236, including stations in New York City and Chicago, if Sinclair doesn’t divest some of the stations.  Emily Stewart reports in Vox. In a Tweet, President Trump defended Sinclair. 

Saks/Lord & Taylor hacked

 Vindu Goel and Rachel Abrams report for the New York Times that a well-known band of cybercriminals hacked the credit and debit card numbers of some 5 million Saks and Lord & Taylor customers. The parent company of the two department stores, Hudson’s Bay Company, said in  a statement that the company has identified the issue, is taking steps to contain it, and will keep the public informed.

Trump attacks Amazon

Trump attacked Amazon on twitter last week, saying the company should be regulated, which led to a dip in the company’s stock prices. But policy experts say that antitrust action against Amazon is a long shot. Laura Stevens reports in the Wall Street Journal.

City of Atlanta hit by cyberattack

Eight thousand employees of the City of Atlanta had to shut down their computers last week. The reason? A ransomware attack. The attackers demanded $51,000 to unscramble government processes usually handled online. While the attack did not affect major systems like wastewater treatment and 911 calls, police officers had to write tickets by hand, none of Atlanta’s 6 million residents could apply for city jobs, and the courts could not validate warrants. Nicole Perlroth and Aland Blinder report in the New York Times.

FCC greenlights SpaceX’s satellite internet service

The FCC has given the green light to SpaceX’s satellite broadband internet service. The company aims to deploy thousands of small satellites to reach underserved areas, such as rural communities, at fiber-like speeds. Samanta Masunaga reports in the LA Times.


Tumblr cancels 84 accounts tied to Russia

Morgan Chalfant reports in the Hill that Tumblr took down 84 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm at the center of a federal investigation into the Russian propaganda campaign that swayed the 2016 presidential election. Last month DOJ Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and 3 Russian entities connected to the Internet Research Agency.

Trump administration to look at social media accounts for visas

The Trump administration announced that it is planning to review the social media accounts of people applying for visas to enter the U.S. People entering the U.S. from countries with visa-free status, like the UK, Canada, France, and Germany, won’t be subjected to the additional vetting. But individuals seeking entry visas into the U.S. from countries like India, China and Mexico would need to turn over their social media information. The BBC has the story. But Joe Uchill and Stef W. Kight reported for Axios that ICE already uses Facebook data – not to track immigrants, though, but to track child predators.

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear challenges to the FCC’s net neutrality order

Finally, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear the consolidated appeals of the FCC’s December order to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules. The Ninth Circuit had won the lottery to hear the case, but Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request to move the cases to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard the appeals of both the 2011 rules and the 2015 rules, which it had upheld. John Eggerton reports in Broadcasting and Cable.