Alumni (National Fellow)

David Karpf

National Fellow
B.A. Oberlin College (2002)
M.A. University of Pennsylvania (2006)
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania (2009)
Dream Mentor:
Henry Farrell
George Washington Univ.
Fields of Interest:
Media and The Press
Science and Technology


David Karpf is an associate professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University. His work focuses on strategic communication practices of political associations in America, with a particular interest in Internet-related strategies. Karpf is the award-winning author of “The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy” (2012, Oxford University Press) and “Analytic Activism: Digital Listening and the New Political Strategy” (2016, Oxford University Press). Both books discuss how digital media is transforming the work of political advocacy and activist organizations. His writing about digital media and politics has been published in a wide range of academic and journalistic outlets, including The Nation, Nonprofit Quarterly, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Prior to entering academia, Karpf was an environmental organizer with the Sierra Club. He served as national director of the Sierra Student Coalition in 1999, National Trainings director from 1998-2000, and National Roadless Campaign coordinator in 2000. He also served six years on the Sierra Club’s Board of Directors (2004-2010). Karpf weaves this practical campaign perspective into much of his research and teaching.

Thesis Description:

Network-Enhanced Goods and Internet-Mediated Organizations: The Internet’s Effects on Political Participation, Organization, and Mobilization
Karpf’s dissertation argued that the Internet is enabling new forms of political association, engaging geographically diffuse communities-of-interest in a host of participatory activities that were infeasible under previous information regimes. He discussed how this is leading to the emergence of internet-mediated organizations that take advantage of the online environment to construct novel solutions to traditional collective action problems. In 2009, Karpf earned his Ph.D in Political Science from UPenn.

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