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Dr. John McLevey completed his Master’s and Doctorate in Sociology at McMaster University (2013) and his Honors Bachelor’s in Sociology and Political Science at Memorial University (2008). He joined Knowledge Integration and the University of Waterloo as an Assistant Professor in 2013 and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2019.
John’s current research addresses three broad and longstanding themes that cut across the social, cognitive, and computational/statistical sciences. First, he is developing generative models of schematic cognition, social influence, and cultural learning to deepen our knowledge of how latent opinions, identities, beliefs, and behaviors form and co-evolve, and to better measure polarization and large-scale cultural change. In developing these models, he is primarily focused on culture related to five substantive issues: climate change and environmental policy; privacy, security, and surveillance; democracy and autocracy; science and expertise; and, finally, lifestyle preferences and politics. Second, he is using these models as digital 'laboratories' (of a sort) to better understand the workings and impacts of coordinated information operations such as disinformation campaigns and censorship on populations. Third, he is using data from social media platforms to better understand the role of emotional dynamics and identity-related processes in online political discussions. John approaches each of these projects as a computational social scientist with expertise in network science and social network analysis, probabilistic and generative modelling, and computational text analysis.
Among other things, John is the author or co-author of 3 books, Doing Computational Social Science (Sage, UK, 2022), Industrial Development and Eco-Tourisms: Is Co-Existence Possible Between Oil Exploration and Nature Conservation (with Mark Stoddart and Alice Mattoni, Palgrave MacMillan, 2021), and The Face-to-Face Principle and the Internet: Science, Trust, Truth, and Democracy (with Harry Collins, Rob Evans, Martin Innes, Will Mason-Wilkes, and Eric Kennedy, Cardiff University Press, 2022). He is also co-editing the second volume of the Sage Handbook for Social Network Analysis with Peter Carrington and John Scott. He recently co-edited journal special issues on the themes of social networks and climate change (Social Networks) and natural resource governance and energy futures (Society & Natural Resources). You can learn more about John’s research by visiting the webpage for his research lab, Netlab.
John’s regular KI courses include “The Art & Science of Learning” (INTEG 120), “Bullshit, Bias, and Bad Arguments” (INTEG 240), “Research Methods and Design” (INTEG 340), and “Computational Social Science” (INTEG 440 / INTEG 640).
Outside the office, you can usually find John playing basketball, hiking, reading, or hanging out with friends, family, and cats.