Special Topics Graduate Seminar - Alternative Facts in a Post-Truth Century (Revision 2)
This is a special topics graduate seminar to be offered annually or semi-annually in the MA-IS Program. Each offering will present a unique opportunity to engage with an exciting contemporary topic or set of issues and approaches that call upon the specific research and teaching strengths of an Athabasca University faculty member or, from time to time, a well-known author or researcher brought in from outside the University. MAIS 752 may be applicable to one or more MA-IS Focus Areas as appropriate.
Fall 2017 semester: Alternative Facts in a Post-Truth Century
The long-standing climate change denial movement, and the quite recent (2016) campaign for “Brexit”, both exemplify public displays of the denial of evidence and experience. With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, this phenomenon has been taken to a whole new level. “Alternative facts” have become embedded in everyday discourse, part of the accelerating descent into what some have called a “post-truth” era. This course will critically examine the post-truth universe, and suggest that in fact it is not new, but contains a reprise of themes we have seen before in contemporary society. The 20th century was sullied by the tactic of the “Big Lie” in Nazi Germany and the state-sponsored rewriting of history in Stalin’s Russia. Crucially, we have also lived through a long period of “alternative facts” and the denial of truth in Canada – clearly exposed in the 2015 final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The course will draw on readings from the experiences of Germany, the ex-Soviet Union and Canada, follow that with an exploration of the “epistemologies of ignorance” which might well lie at the root of the mass acceptance of “alternative facts” and punctuate these with examinations of some of the classic literature which has attempted to capture the dimensions of these experiences. The goal of the course is to produce a final essay on the general theme: “Out of ignorance – towards a politics of truth”.
Appropriate learning outcomes will be specified for each unique offering, but in general this is an opportunity to engage at a graduate level with peers as well as with scholars and authors who are active and current in their respective fields. Hence learning outcomes include:
- The ability to engage in intelligent dialogue at a professional academic level with scholars and artists.
- The ability to write critically and effectively at a professional academic level.
- The confidence in one’s abilities that comes along with the above learning outcomes.
Since each offering will engage students with a different content, theme, and instructor, the course materials and assignment structure will vary as well.
Participation in weekly seminar discussion
In general there will be weekly online forums for class discussions and opportunities for responding to the discussion questions each week. Students are expected to thoroughly review assigned materials before participating in online discussions, and to be prepared for lively, intelligent, curious, appreciative and inspiring discussion, dialogue and debate.
The previous offering of the MAIS 752 Graduate Seminar can be viewed here.
For more information about upcoming offerings, please contact the MA-IS Office.
Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.
Opened in Revision 2, March 22, 2017.
Updated June 19 2017 by Student & Academic Services