Vaccine skepticism, the alt-right online, and empathy-based civics education are three new soc sci research projects that will soon be underway, thanks to funding from UCI’s Provost Initiative on Understanding and Engaging with Extremism. Managed through the Office of Inclusive Excellence, the initiative engages scholars and community members on pivotal topics shaping our understanding of free speech, social equity and values and promotes critical dialogues in these areas.

Inaugural recipients and projects in soc sci include:

  • Interrogating the Character and Persistence of Science Denialism: The Case of the Anti-Vaccination Movement - Contact Lead: David Snow, Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology. A study examining vaccine skepticism as manifested in the anti-vaccine movement in Southern California.
  • Digital Extremism: Understanding and Confronting the Alt-right's Digital Toolkit - Lead: Bill Maurer, Dean and Professor, Department of Anthropology. Public dialogues, workshops and seminars for students and faculty examining how digital media is manipulated and spread, and discussing digital tools used by the alt right, and ways to reimagine digital civics.
  • Civic Education in Polarized Times - Lead: Sara Goodman, Associate Professor Department of Political Science. Conducts original experiments to assess the effects of debate skills training, media literacy, and empathy building on novel measures of attitudes towards ideologically-different citizens and ethnic minorities.

In total, eight projects were selected from the 20 proposals put forward. Learn more at

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