Tag Archives: Fact or Fiction

Pantagraph Joins “Fact or Fiction” Open House

Image Credit: David Proeber, The Pantagraph

The Pantagraph joined more than 100 students and faculty at this Fall’s “Fact or Fiction” Course Cluster Open House, where students in over a dozen different courses shared research posters, oral presentations, and creative work around the subject of this year’s Annual Intellectual Theme.

Chris Sweet, Information Literacy Librarian and Associate Professor in The Ames Library, has coordinated programming across campus in support for the “Fact or Fiction” theme, which is closely associated with the skills and concepts associated with the library’s award-winning instructional services program. As he said: “It’s not just politics and ‘fake news.’ It’s about learning to be a good critical thinker and consumer of information. How do you evaluate what you see and read?”

More information on, and photos of, the Fall 2019 Open House are available on the Pantagraph site.


Fact or Fiction Course Cluster Open House (December 4th)

Student presents at Course Cluster Open House 2018

Please join us on on Wednesday, December 4th, from 11am to 1 pm, for an Open House for students and faculty participating in the Fact or Fiction Course Cluster. Each year, faculty in programs across the curriculum design courses and assignments aligned with Illinois Wesleyan University’s Annual Intellectual Theme, a strategic initiative designed to bring the campus community together around a common intellectual experience. Experiences such as these have been identified as a high-impact educational practice and provide important opportunities to advance the library’s mission to “[foster] inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge, intellectual and ethical integrity, excellence in teaching and learning, and respect for diverse points of view.”

Fact or Fiction is IWU’s intellectual theme for 2019-20, and invites multidisciplinary study of the critical need in the contemporary political environment for “an informed citizenry … equipped to discern between fact and fiction.” Students in Fall 2019 cluster courses such as Human Nature (Gateway 100), Human Nutrition (HLTH 230), Artificial Intelligence (CS 338), and Visual Ethnographic Methods (ANTH 380)  explored issues of inquiry, critical thinking, and the construction of knowledge as part of the “Fact or Fiction” discussion, as well as the connections between these issues and the intellectual skills and concepts associated with The Ames Library’s information literacy program. At this week’s Open House, more than 100 students from 15 different courses will present research and creative work based on the annual theme.

With one-hour sessions scheduled to begin at 11 am and 12 pm, we encourage all members of the IWU community to join us at the Course Cluster Open House to learn how our students have engaged with the ideas and issues at the heart of the “Fact or Fiction” discussion and how this experience supports our mission as a liberal education institution to “[foster] creativity, critical thinking, effective communication, strength of character and a spirit of inquiry.”

Fact or Fiction?

While the library is always a key resource for students and faculty exploring Illinois Wesleyan University’s Annual Intellectual Theme, opportunities abound for library engagement in the coming year with our campus focus on the theme of Fact or Fiction?

The IWU mission statement places the nurturing of a commitment to critical thinking and a “spirit of inquiry” among the central goals of a liberal education, and these have been essential to the development and impact across the curriculum of The Ames Library’s information literacy program. Working with partners in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, our librarians have established student learning outcomes designed to complement and extend the distinctive commitments of our undergraduate education program and to demonstrate why information literacy and critical thinking skills are essential to the development of students as engaged citizens in an informed democracy. And, while the ability “to discern fact from fiction” has always been a foundational goal of education in a democracy, our focus on this theme in 2019 is especially timely, as advances in information technology and the expanding acceptance of “alternative facts” in a “post-truth” environment have raised new questions about what is “true,” about the nature of scientific authority, and about the ethics of creating and disseminating information in an increasingly polarized political environment.

In a recent article, researchers from Project Information Literacy reported on a national study of the ways in which college students discover, discuss, and engage with news and current events, as well as the factors influencing their determination of the credibility of those sources. They found that the classroom offers an important opportunity for students to develop a critical thinking framework for their “news habits,” both as students and as lifelong learners. Discussing the news and news sources as part of the curriculum, they continue, can promote student awareness of the ways in which information is constructed, both commercially and socially, disseminated through face-to-face, print, and (increasingly) digital media, and employed in our society. Information literacy skills related to the news media can form a basis for collaboration among librarians, classroom faculty, and student affairs educators, as well as another means by which colleges and universities can prepare students for a lifetime of civic engagement, which is, of course, another foundational goal of a liberal education.

The Ames Library faculty and staff will be working with colleagues throughout the year to support the study of this year’s “Fact or Fiction” theme in the classroom and through related exhibitions and programs. Working with colleagues in Information Technology Services, we will also explore connections between this year’s theme and the concept of “digital literacies,” including data literacy, media literacy, and the capacity to “[assess] social and ethical issues in our digital world.”

The Annual Intellectual Theme is coordinated at Illinois Wesleyan University by students, faculty, and staff serving on the Intellectual Theme Working Group, whose members work together to identify “an idea or theme with the potential to engage thinking, creativity, and dialogue through multiple disciplinary lenses and interdisciplinary approaches” across the curriculum and co-curriculum.