The University community recently gathered for “The Absence of Healthy Confrontation” hosted by the Institute for Communication and Religion within the College of Communication and the Arts and University Libraries. The topic of discussion was Pope Francis’ World Communications Day message on fake news as part of the “Critical Issues in Information and Education” Speakers Series by University Libraries.
Monsignor Dennis Mahon, Ph.D., coordinator for the Institute for Communication and Religion and associate professor of communication, began the discussion with a history of propaganda and the decision of Pope Paul VI in 1967 to establish the Vatican’s World Communications Day. Monsignor Mahon went on to analyze Pope Francis’ address from earlier this year by saying, “the Pope wants us to balance our thoughts with the opinions of others of good will. Once you have a balance of opinions one must use their discernment to analyze these opinions and the truth emerges from them with the ultimate goal of peace for all.”
Dr. Ki Joo Choi, committee member for the Institute for Communication and Religion and chair of the Department of Religion, also addressed Pope Francis’ comments on news. Choi interpreted the Pope’s message as an appeal for others to speak truth not just by describing facts but to view the communication of news as “inviting another into friendship. Communication is meant to bring us into solidarity with each other, so we can know what is true and good.” Choi elaborated that fake news can be spotted by what fruits it bears and that real news should foster social participation and communal deliberation. The event concluded with a Q&A session in which truth and people’s willingness to accept it was discussed.
The University Libraries' Speakers Series, “Critical Issues in Information and Education,” focuses on the intersection of educational and informational issues. Its inaugural event on issues of mass communication featured John Berry III, former editor-in-chief of Library Journal, on misinformation and Dr. Christopher Tienken, associate professor of education administration at the University, on the false narrative surrounding the current educational testing regime and educational standardization. Its second program, Discursive and Demographic Dysfunction, Or, Why It Is So Hard To Decide What The Facts Are, included Rutgers University Professors Marie Radford, Library and Information Sciences, on narratives of information seeking and Julia Sass Rubin, School of Planning and Public Policy, on legal challenges to academic inquiry.
Launched in Fall 2017, the Institute for Communication and Religion provides a nexus for ongoing scholarly exploration of communication topics critically important to religion and society. Under the leadership of Monsignor Mahon and inspired by Nostra Aetate, the Institute enhances the University's and the College's sustained leadership in fostering open, clear dialogue and study between religious believers and the broader public in the communication disciplines at the theoretical, professional, and practical levels.
The discussion was one of the Institute’s latest initiative. The Institute recently hosted curriculum development workshops, cosponsored Ethically Speaking, and its inaugural event, Speaking Truth: Religion in the News Media, featuring The Wall Street Journal Columnist William McGurn, took place in Fall 2017. It also hosted its Spring 2018 event featuring award-winning religion journalist David Gibson on April 24.
To learn more about the Institute for Communication and Religion, please visit its website here.
About the Institute for Communication and Religion
Launched in Fall 2017, the Institute for Communication and Religion within the College of Communication and the Arts provides a nexus for ongoing scholarly exploration of communication topics critically important to religion and society. Guided by the spirit of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation, the Institute seeks to engage in public dialogue and debate, promote academic inquiry and support the religious dimension of creativity — all while upholding the values of servant leadership, curricular innovation and intellectual excellence. For more information about the ICR, visit the Institute's website or email Jon Radwan, Ph.D., at firstname.lastname@example.org.