J-School professor featured in Wellness in Our Democracy lecture series

Are misinformation and disinformation tearing down our democracy? Does academia have a responsibility to help students, faculty and staff connect with the tools that can better help us navigate these perilous times? 

A new series this fall asks important questions about the threats that our democracy is facing, while pairing these challenges with a consideration of care —for ourselves and our communities.

An effort led by Najarian R. Peters, 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; and Emily Ryan, director of The Commons, will offer 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,” said Peters. “Wellness requires ongoing, committed practice.”

The Oct. 26 virtual session, at 7 p.m., will explore what the data tells us. It will feature a conversation with Joan Donavan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. The final session of the semester will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30.

The series kicked off Wednesday, Sept. 28, with an introduction to the topics and themes these events call into question, while using a praxis of care. It featured 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’s current work 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 populations about what can be agreed upon as fact,” said Ryan. “Higher education as a field is built upon a common goal to better understand the world, and 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 hour-long events in this series are open to the public. To attend, register here.

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