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Emily Ryan
The Commons
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New series will explore disinformation and how university communities can respond

Thu, 09/22/2022

LAWRENCE — A new virtual series this fall at the University of Kansas will ask important questions about the threats that misinformation and disinformation pose to democracy, while pairing these challenges with a consideration of care — for ourselves and our communities.

"Wellness in Our Democracy: The Threat of Disinformation and Misinformation," led by Najarian Peters, KU associate professor of law and faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School; Patricia Weems Gaston, Lacy C. Haynes Professor of Journalism at KU; and Emily Ryan, director of The Commons at KU, will offer three opportunities to learn more about the insidiousness of false information, whether shared intentionally or not.

“We need to form community focused on interdisciplinary inquiry and responsive care to combat misinformation and disinformation, as a practice – not just one program,” Peters said. “Wellness requires ongoing, committed practice.”

The free public series begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 with an introduction to the topics and themes these events call into question, while using a praxis of care. It will feature Gaston, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a former editor at The Washington Post, in conversation with Reggie Hubbard, founder and chief serving officer of Active Peace Yoga.

A former political strategist, Hubbard trains civic leaders and activists to bring balance and intentionality into their work, while encouraging wellness and engagement among the general population. In this capacity, he has worked with members of Congress and their staff, labor unions, educational institutions and individuals across the service sector.

A desire for well-being and safety is a major consideration in the realms of misinformation and disinformation – and what it can make room for if unchecked.

“Certainly through global events, national elections and the aftermath, we see a disparity across individuals and groups about what can be agreed upon as fact,” Ryan said. “Higher education as a field is built upon a common goal to ask questions about the world so that we can better understand it. With all of the resources available to us, it seems in our best interest to call them into a common conversation to address this current imperative.”

All hourlong events in this series are open to the public. To attend the first event, register at  https://bit.ly/DemocracyKU.

The second session, at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26, will explore what the data tells us and what role universities play in helping to identify and translate it.

The final session of the semester will take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 30. 

Events in this series are supported and presented by The Commons, the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications and the KU School of Law.



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