Thesis linked to the implementation of the María de Maeztu Strategic Research Program.

Open access to PhD thesis carried out at the Department can be found at TDX

Please visit these pages for information on our PhD, MSc and BSc programs.


Back COURAGE, a virtual companion that guides teenagers in the use of social networks

(Original UPF news)

COURAGE: A Social Media Companion Safeguarding and Educating Students is a new project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation which began in April 2019 and is to last four years. Its main goal is to develop a virtual companion that educates and supports teenage students that have to deal with the threats of social networks such as discrimination and biases, for example in gender issues.

Threats that can turn into hate speech, lead to harassment, provide false information or other toxic contents that can greatly affect the real world. The virtual companion will increase awareness of these potential threats in social networks and also provide a satisfying experience through the use of new gaming strategies and educational information selection algorithms.

The project involves funding of close to 1.5 million euros and an international consortium made up of Sabrina Eimler (HS Rhurwest, Germany), Ulrich Hoppe (RIAS, Duisburg, Germany), Davinia Hernández-Leo, Udo Kruschwitz (Essex, UK), and Davide Taiba (CNR-ITD, Palermo, Italy).

The team of researchers includes the TIDE research group at UPF, led  by the researcher Davinia Hernández-Leo, principal investigator of the project, with Vicente Gómez and Anders Jonsson, researchers at the Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC) and Carlos Scolari, a researcher with the Department of Communication at UPF.

Main goals of the COURAGE project

The three main goals of the project are:

  • to develop user interfaces for social networks that educate and support users in adopting empathy as an ethical principle of governance of the networks to counteract the spread of toxic content;
  • to develop, enhance and integrate methods and tools to automatically recognize and counter the threats to the health of a connected society;
  • to understand and model what a healthy connected society is in order to give support in view of future risks and detect new threats.

The Volkswagen Foundation promotes the humanities and social sciences as well as science and technology in higher education and research. It funds research projects and provides assistance to academic institutions to improve the structural conditions for their work. In particular, the Foundation’s mission is to support aspiring young academics and promote international and interdisciplinary collaboration.