Hello, World! My name is Elizabeth Sutterlin, and I am so excited to be joining NDI’s DemTech team as a Program Assistant.
I have always been fascinated by the internet. This immense, global network could instantly direct anyone to unprecedented amounts of information and could connect people anywhere in the world in real time. The tools and technologies of the internet certainly shaped how I communicated with others and how I engaged with the world around me, and as I began to study international politics, I began to wonder how the digital space might also be shaping other people, institutions, and societies.
I pursued answers to these questions through several research projects as an undergraduate at William & Mary. In my junior year, I examined how private messaging apps can foster disinformation, accelerate the spread of rumors, and encourage political violence. I spent the summer of 2019 working in Tbilisi, Georgia to conduct interviews and collect online petition data to evaluate whether online platforms for citizen input could promote transparency and accountability in government. And in my senior honors thesis, I analyzed how factors like conflict, protest, and elections lead governments to enact internet shutdowns worldwide. After graduating, I worked as a summer fellow at the U.S. Agency for Global Media and assisted in research on emerging digital trends that would impact efforts to promote media freedom and democratic principles around the world.
My experiences have given me the chance to look at the relationships between democracy and technology from many different angles, and I am looking forward to learning even more through my work and from my colleagues on the DemTech team.
In my free time, you can generally find me writing some poetry or prose, fencing, trying out new recipes, or enjoying the great outdoors!