Oct. 20, 2022

Congratulations to Dakoda Trithara!

Winner of the 2021-2022 University of Calgary Silver Anniversary Graduate Fellowship and The Magna International Inc. Graduate Scholarship in Political Science

The University of Calgary Silver Anniversary Graduate Fellowship is open to students registered full-time in a doctoral program. Awards are granted on the basis of academic standing and demonstrated potential for advanced study and research. Candidates must be residents of Canada.

The Magna International Inc. Graduate Scholarship in Political Science is open to students registered full-time in a thesis-based graduate program in the Department of Political Science. The award is on the recommendation of the Department of Political Science. 


Dakoda Trithara is working under the supervision of Dr. Antonio Franceschet. Tell us a bit about what makes Dakoda’s work stand out? 

Dakoda’s research on the politics of internet platform governance will fill a gap in Political Science. It is a complex and undertheorized topic that cuts across the discipline’s traditional subfields. Accordingly, Dakoda’s approach develops and applies concepts and approaches from a variety of literatures and his dissertation promises to be an original contribution. 


Trithara Headshot

Dakoda, your own broad research interests include technology, platform governance, and cyber norms. How did you come to focus on these areas?  

Prior to attending the University of Calgary, I worked as a technology consultant for various organizations and earned two degrees in political studies. The more I observed how individuals use digital spaces for political purposes and how tech firms and governments seek to govern said spaces, the more interested I became in studying the intersection of politics and technology. 

I’ll never forget the countless times I helped people set up a new phone or download an app for the first time. The biggest lie around the world is folks saying they agree to terms and conditions they have read. In my scholarly work, this is most apparent with folks that complain about their right to express themselves being infringed upon by social media platforms that moderate content according to community standards that individuals consent to follow when they agree to the terms of use when signing up for an account.  

Can you tell us a bit about your dissertation research?  

My dissertation’s working title is The Struggle Over Online Speech: Policy Entrepreneurs’ Contestation of Content Moderation Norms. I’m interested in better understanding how and why various policy entrepreneurs contest both the applicability of the fundamental liberal norm of freedom of expression under particular online circumstances, and the validity of the laissez-faire organizing principle that lets platforms police content themselves. The research narrows in on these two norms and explores their contestation within and across three contexts: political disinformation, public health misinformation, and violent extremist content. Through exploring the processes behind the construction of content moderation norms, the work aims to provide in-depth, context-dependent knowledge around the objections to or acceptance of these norms by US government officials, industry professionals, and civil society experts. The research will offer insights into the robustness of the considered norms and stakeholders’ power to shape said norms.

What are the next steps toward finishing your dissertation? 

I’m currently analyzing data for my dissertation. This includes reviewing interviews I conducted with civil society experts and congressional hearings related to Big Tech. Lots of thinking and writing left to do!  


Congratulations to Dakoda Trithara on your 2021–22 University of Calgary Silver Anniversary Graduate Fellowship and Magna International Inc. Graduate Scholarship in Political Science!

To find out more about our paper prizes and past prize winners,please visit the UCalgary Political Science website.