University of Oxford’s Robert Picard shares social media insights during Greenlee’s Research Friday

Robert Picard presents in 172 Hamilton Hall with a Powerpoint slide on the screen that says "Yes, But" behind him
Robert Picard, senior research fellow at the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford, presents a session on the effects of social media on Nov. 3 as part of the Greenlee School's Research Friday.

The Greenlee School welcomed Robert G. Picard, one of the world’s leading academic experts on media economics and management and government communications policies, on Nov. 3 for its Research Friday.

Picard is senior research fellow at the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford, a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and an affiliated fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri and has been a consultant for government agencies and ministries in North America and Europe, international agencies, investment firms and numerous media companies and media labor organizations.

Hosting the internationally renowned author and editor of 32 books and hundreds of articles on media issues was an extraordinary opportunity to promote collaboration, said Angela Powers, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

“Research Fridays are designed to stimulate discussion and explore research possibilities across disciplines. Dr. Picard was certainly successful in reaching a large contingency in this regard,” said Angela Powers, director the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

Picard spoke to undergraduate students in Law of Mass Communication (JL MC 460) and Media Ethics, Freedom, Responsibility (JL MC 462); met with pre-tenure faculty and graduate students; and presented a session on the evolving role of social media to students, staff and faculty from a number of units within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Angela Powers in blazer, Robert Picard in suit with purple tie, Jan Boyles in plaid dress
From left to right, Angela Powers, director of the Greenlee School, Robert Picard, senior research fellow at University of Oxford, and Jan Lauren Boyles, assistant professor in the Greenlee School.

“Research Fridays enable our scholarly community to assemble and exchange knowledge related to the fields of communication, journalism and media. We are able to not only build bridges between senior scholars and junior faculty internally; our Research Fridays also provide an external forum for us to share our scholarship with the broader campus community. This fall, we were delighted to have colleagues from across the College join us — further establishing the interdisciplinary nature of the research that Greenlee faculty conduct,” said Assistant Professor Jan Lauren Boyles, who helped facilitate the event.  

Picard’s presentation focused on the question of whether social media is improving human interactions and creating community.

“Dr. Picard’s presentation emphasized the integral nature of social media across all facets of daily life. His research demonstrated the extent and degree to which social media are embedded within nearly every second of our existence in the digital age,” Boyles said. 

Picard touched on social media’s power to restore informality in communication and provide conduits for people to connect and express ideas, while pointing out critical issues around its use, including authenticity, artificiality, cognitive issues and dangerous behaviors.

“Dr. Picard’s discussion on social media from a psychology perspective opens the door for more cross disciplinary research, as well as the need for an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in this area,” Powers said.