Alexa Koenig, PhD, JD, is Co-Faculty Director of the Human Rights Center (winner of the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions), Director of HRC’s Investigations Program, and an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley School of Law, where she teaches classes that focus on the intersection of emerging technologies and human rights. She also co-teaches a class on open source investigative reporting at Berkeley Journalism. Alexa co-founded the Human Rights Center Investigations Lab(link is external), which trains students and professionals to use social media and other digital open source content to strengthen human rights research, reporting, and accountability. Alexa is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, a member of the Technology Advisory Board for the Innovation Lab at Human Rights First, an advisory board member of Physicians for Human Rights, and a co-founder of the University of California Network on Human Rights Fact-Finding. She previously helped establish and co-chaired the Technology Advisory Board of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court; co-chaired the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Law Committee; and was a member of the University of California’s Presidential Working Group on Artificial Intelligence, for which she co-chaired the Human Resources subcommittee. Alexa has been honored with several awards for her work, including the United Nations Association-SF’s Global Human Rights Award, UC Berkeley’s Mark Bingham Award for Excellence, and the Eleanor Swift Award for Public Service. She has also been honored with a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center (2019), with multiple writing residencies at Mesa Refuge, as a Woman Inspiring Change by Harvard’s Women’s Law Association (2020), and as one of “100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics” by Women in AI Ethics (2022). She conceived of and directed development of the Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations and has conducted trainings on online open source investigations at organizations around the world. Alexa has a BA from UCLA in World Arts and Cultures summa cum laude, a JD from the University of San Francisco with a specialization in cyberlaw and intellectual property magna cum laude, and both an MA and a PhD from UC Berkeley’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program with honors.
ALEXA KOENIG’S RECENT BOOKS INCLUDE
- Graphic: Trauma and Meaning in our Online Lives,(link is external) co-author with Andrea Lampros (Cambridge University Press 2023)
- Digital Witness: Using Open Source Methods for Human Rights Investigations, Advocacy and Accountability, with Sam Dubberley and Daragh Murray (Oxford University Press, 2019)
Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror, with Eric Stover and Victor Peskin (UC Press, 2016)
Extreme Punishment: Comparative Studies in Detention, Incarceration and Solitary Confinement, editor with Keramet Reiter (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015)
The Guantánamo Effect: Exposing the Consequences of U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices, contributor with Eric Stover, Laurel Fletcher, and Stephen Smith Cody (UC Press, 2009). Additional research and commentary have appeared in such diverse outlets as the Annual Review of Law and Social Science, the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, US News and World Reports, and elsewhere.
RECENT MEDIA APPEARANCES
- Bellingcat: The online investigators tracking alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine(link is external), 60 Minutes, May 2022. Discussed the use of OSINT tools by civilian investigators, the important standards set by the Berkeley Protocol, and the utility of OSINT in war crimes investigations in Ukraine and beyon
- Berkeley students investigate war crimes using social media, UC Berkeley News
- Digital Detectives, explores how open source investigations have sparked a revolution in journalism; NHK World, April 2020
- Fake news v fact: The battle for truth, The Economist, February 2019
- PBS NewsHour(link is external), discussing the launch of the Human Rights Investigations Lab, February 2017
- “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror,” ALOUD Podcast Series, Jan. 17, 2017
- UC Berkeley students work to authenticate photos, videos from conflict zones, ABC 7 News, July 13, 2017.
J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law
Ph.D., UC Berkeley
M.A., UC Berkeley
Alexa Koenig is teaching the following course in Fall 2023:
Courses During Other Semesters
|Semester||Course Num||Course Title||Teaching Evaluations||Spring 2024||224 sec. 001||Conducting Open Source Investigations||262.65 sec. 001||Human Rights and Social Justice Writing Workshop||Spring 2023||262.91 sec. 001||The Killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the Search for Justice||View Teaching Evaluation||Fall 2022||262.68 sec. 001||Human Rights and War Crimes Investigations||View Teaching Evaluation|
In their new book, Graphic: Trauma and Meaning in our Online Lives, Alexa Koenig and Andrea Lampros draw lessons from experts and the center’s own work to protect students’ mental health.
Keenly aware of threats to the rule of law worldwide, Piotr Hofmański discussed the court’s role in helping safeguard fundamental rights during a recent talk at Berkeley Law.
Alexa Koenig and Andrea Lampos, co-founders of the Investigations Lab at Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center discuss their new book Graphic: Trauma and Meaning in Our Online Lives.
“Since 2016, the Investigations Lab we founded at the Human Rights Center, a multidisciplinary research institution on the UC Berkeley campus, has trained hundreds of students how to search social media for information about possible human rights violations,” write Alexa Koenig and AndreaLampros, co-founders of the Investigations Lab at UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center. “We founded the Lab to create a pipeline of professionals with the latest research skills, but also to support the work of journalists, human rights researchers, and lawyers who may not have the training or time to find reliable data online to strengthen their investigations.”
“Many people active in open source reporting will be playing close attention to whether the BBC succeeds,” said Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center at the University of California at Berkeley’s law school.
Musk’s takeover sparked a “reprioritization of what Twitter means to the world,” said Alexa Koenig, the co-director of the Berkeley School of Law’s Human Rights Center. “I think right now, any responsibility to respect, protect and remedy human rights violations that the company may be causing or contributing to is very clearly taking a back seat to the financial interests.”
“Many of us are watching to see how visual and other forms of digital evidence become useful or are challenged, what the judges think,” said Alexa Koenig, a co-director of the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center and a leading expert on the use of emerging technologies in human rights practice.
As Ukrainian law enforcement officials and NGOs prepare for war crimes trials, their efforts to collect evidence are guided by digital-age legal standards developed at Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center.
Violent videos should be viewed with care, says Alexa Koenig, a faculty expert on psychological trauma and resiliency at Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center.
A whopping 18 courses are available to Berkeley Law students for the first time this semester, including 3 focused on emerging areas in the corporate sector.
Selected to discuss their work at the recent event in Miami, where the vast majority of presenters were faculty scholars, “is a big deal,” says Professor Katerina Linos.
The faculty director of Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center continues to help people worldwide search for an answer to the agonizing question, Where is my child?
Alexa Koenig, executive director of Berkeley’s Human Rights Center and a lecturer at the law and journalism schools along with three other Berkeley experts discuss the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and what it reveals about the changing nature of the court, and what lawmakers are likely to do next.
Now a visiting scholar with Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center, Qazizada is part of a unique program that brings threatened Afghan scholars to the Bay Area.
Human Rights Center Executive Director Alexa Koenig discusses the growing use of open source intelligence (OSINT) as a way to document international atrocities and bolster human rights prosecutions.
Alexa Koenig, Executive Director of the Human Rights Center, says open source information can be invaluable at the preliminary investigation stage, as you’re planning either humanitarian relief or to conduct a legal investigation
Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center, says there’s been a shift in how tech companies are responding to events such as the Buffalo shooting
Alexa Koenig, Executive Director of the Human Rights Center, appears on 60 Minutes to discuss open source investigations and says we are headed into an entirely new era of human rights investigations, and war crimes investigations, more generally
Four high-ranking congressional Democrats sent formal requests to the CEOs of YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, on Thursday, asking them to archive content that could be used as evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine and citing a 2021 report from the Human Rights Center
Alexa Koenig, Executive Director of the Human Rights Center, discusses the increase in news using open source investigation techniques