2023 Political Studies Graduate Students Association (PSGSA) Graduate Conference


Monday June 26, 2023
9:00 am - 5:30 pm

The Queen's University Department of Political Studies Graduate Students Association (PSGSA) present:

The 2023 PSGSA Graduate Conference

"Emerging Technologies in the Age of Digital Censorship, Surveillance, and Repression"

Keynote speakers: Dr. Seva Gunitsky and Col Ryan Jurkowski

Monday, June 26th | 9:00AM – 5:30PM
Robert Sutherland Hall (138 Union Street, Kingston) Room 202 OR via Zoom
*Lunch provided

This event is co-sponsored by MINDS (Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security), the Department of Political Studies, the Canadian Opinion Research Archive (CORA), the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP), the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations (IIGR), and the Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity (CSDD).  

Registration is required >>> Click here to register by 4:00PM on Monday, June 19th! 

The proliferation of new and emerging technologies by state and non-state actors has significantly changed global and domestic politics in the 21st century. From the Arab Spring to the more recent Hashtag protests mediated from the digital spaces, mass mobilization for non-violent actions is aimed at holding leaders accountable, demanding social changes, making claims for reforms and overhauling existing societal structures, systems, and institutions.

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need to better harness the powers of emerging technologies to address global and local challenges. On one hand, the proliferation of emerging technologies offers high hopes for enhancing democratisation and promoting human rights through non-violent collective actions and the international exposure of political repression. On the other hand, as with several examples across the world, digital technologies can also be a tool for liberal and authoritarian governments to punish critical voices and dissenters by converting such technologies into tools of state censorship, disinformation, surveillance, and repression. Thus, while digital technologies have the potential to positively improve governance structures and human rights, repressive and weak governments have used technologies against their citizens, to prevent or more easily disperse political rallies and protests by extensively monitoring the digital communications of social movements.

Digital technologies are also changing how we approach, plan, and integrate security operations. For example, they are vital in the sphere of Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Information, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance systems (C4I2R). The situational understanding provided by these emerging technologies underpins security operations, from providing situational awareness to gathering intelligence and making informed decisions. Utilizing these emerging technologies has the potential to enhance global development.

Dr. Seva Gunitsky Biography:

Dr. Seva Gunitsky is an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Aftershocks: Great Powers and Domestic Reforms in the Twentieth Century (Princeton University Press), selected by Foreign Affairs as one of the best books of 2017. Some of his work has appeared in International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, International Theory, and Perspectives on Politics, as well as popular outlets like Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and others.

Col Ryan Jurkowski Biography:

Colonel Ryan Jurkowski joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a Sapper in 1993 with 3 Field Engineer Squadron prior to receiving his commission and joining the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa. Colonel Jurkowski then proudly served with the Van Doos from 1997-1999 prior to changing his Regimental Affiliation to the PPCLI in 1999.

Regimental service included participation in various domestic operations with tours to Bosnia from 1999-2001 as the Anti-Armour Platoon Commander, Afghanistan in 2006 and 2009-2010 in Combat Teams, in Kuwait from 2014-2015 as the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve DCJ5, and most recently in Iraq and Kuwait with Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve as the Director of Strategic Communications from 2021-2022.

Staff positions were with the Joint Staff under the then-DCDS Group as the Africa Operations Desk Officer from 2002-2005, Executive Assistant to Commander 3rd Cdn Div from 2007-2008, Executive Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Staff J5 in NATO’s Joint Force Command Brunssum from 2011-2013, Chief of Canadian Army Capability Integration at the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre from 2013-2014, Assistant Chief of Staff at the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre from 2014-2015, the J3 at the 1st Cdn Div from 2017-2018, the Director of Programmes at the Canadian Forces College from 2018-2020, and the Canadian Defence Academy Chief of Staff from 2020-2021. Colonel Jurkowski had the privilege to command the 5th Cdn Div Training Centre from 2015-2017.

Colonel Jurkowski is currently a Visiting Defence Fellow at Queen's University. In addition to national and international commendations, Colonel Jurkowski has been awarded the US Joint Service Commendation Medal, a Mention-in-Dispatch, and the Meritorious Service Medal. Colonel Jurkowski has a Masters in Defence Studies.

The conference will be in a hybrid format. Participants can either join in-person at Queen’s University or online via Zoom.