Fake news. Alternative facts. Propaganda. Conspiracy theories. Today’s landscape of lies and half-truths is rich and overwhelming, permeating headlines and our social feeds. Mis- and disinformation are relatively new labels for an ongoing and increasingly perfidious problem that is driving wedges between people and within communities and exacerbating partisanship.
Although mis/disinformation has firmly taken root in the US, it is not just an American problem. Globally, bad actors use disinformation to deepen tensions at home and abroad and to achieve their preferred domestic outcomes. The global Covid-19 pandemic has furthered the mis/disinformation crisis, with desperate impacts for international communities. At this summer’s annual Global Studies Outreach workshop, we will consider mis/disinformation in a global context by considering the following guiding questions:
- What are misinformation and disinformation? How do we identify it when we see it? What language should we use to talk about it productively?
- How might we place this most recent wave of mis/disinformation in historical context? Is the present situation unique?
- Who is most responsible for creating disinformation and sharing it? How and why have state actors contributed to or enabled the rise of disinformation, and how have individuals helped perpetuate its spread?
- Who bears the burden of responsibility when it comes to responding to and limiting the spread of disinformation? With individuals (parents/educators), organizations (software platforms and media outlets), governments? In what ways can/should they work together for increased impact?
- As educators, how do we teach students to recognize and respond to dis/misinformation? What strategies and skills are most useful in countering the threat?
Understanding the problem is just the beginning. As citizens and as educators we are an important part of the multifaceted solutions required in taking on mis/disinformation and helping a generation of young people learn how to combat mistruths in the news cycle, in conversation and online. At our workshop, we will stitch together first-hand experience, new knowledge and diverse strategies for confronting mis/disinformation, through sessions with content, policy and pedagogy experts.
This summer’s workshop will be offered virtually over a two week period, from July 26 to August 6, 2021. We will offer 6-8 synchronous afternoon sessions over this two week period, with suggested pre-work and the ability to share and connect with other participating educators asynchronously online.
There is no cost to participate. The workshop is tailored to educators at the middle, high school and community college level, but open to educators at all levels regardless of discipline.
In order to create a committed, connected online community devoted to studying the topic at hand, we ask that interested educators complete this online application to be considered for the workshop. Applications are due Friday, May 7th and applicants will be notified of their status by June 1st.
ORGANIZER: Global Studies Outreach at Harvard University