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Personal profile

Research interests

Payal Arora is a Full Professor and Chair in Technology, Values, and Global Media Cultures and an Academic Director in UX and Inclusive Design at the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics, Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is the co-founder of FemLab, a feminist future of work initiative. Her expertise lies in cross-cultural values, inequality, and inclusive design, with a focus on the Global South. Trained in digital anthropology, she comes with two decades of fieldwork experience in unpacking how youth in resource-constrained contexts make sense of new digital tools in their everyday lives and how these insights can shape the design of responsible and equitable systems. Her research has been supported by funding organizations such as Horizon Europe (EUR PI on innovative ethnographic approaches to machine learning using synthetic datasets to reduce bias in AI recruitment tools in Europe), International Development Research Centre (Co-PI for how women workers in India, and Bangladesh learn to use gig platforms to connect, collectivize, and communicate), UNHCR (PI on how Venezuelan refugees in Brazil learn to become content creators and foster new livelihoods), various global design companies. (PI on how Gen Z in India learns to use metrics to create content and build followers for visibility and potential monetization). She is the author of award-winning books including the “Leisure Commons” (Routledge/ EUR fellowship award), and the latest “The Next Billion Users” with Harvard Press (2019 PROSE award Winner). Engadget stated that her Harvard book is one of “the most interesting, thought-provoking books on science and technology we can find.” Forbes named her the “next billion champion” and “the right kind of person to reform tech.” Several international media outlets have covered her work including the BBC, Financial Times, The Economist, Quartz, Tech Crunch, NRC, The Boston Globe, F.A.Z, The Nation and CBC. She engages on tech innovation and equity design with diverse organizations such as Adobe, Spotify, Google, UNESCO, KPMG, GE, UNHCR, and HP. She has given more than 300+ talks in 115 cities in 67 countries including TEDx talks on the future of the internet and frugal innovation. She sits on several boards such as Columbia University’s Earth Institute, World Women Global Council in New York, and the ICRIER Prosus Centre for Internet and Digital Economy. She has held Fellow positions at Bellagio Rockefeller, GE, ZEMKI, ITSRio, MICA, and NYU. She got her Masters at Harvard University in International Policy and her Doctorate at Columbia University in Language, Literacy and Technology.

[Catalyst Lab]: http://www.catalyst-lab.org/ [TEDx talk on the future of the internet.]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiQa78tgbMk&t=105s [University Education Prize in 2017.]: https://www.facebook.com/ErasmusUniversity/videos/1581059295249288/ [Erasmus Magazine]: https://www.erasmusmagazine.nl/en/persons/payal-arora/

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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