Academic Festival 2024

Information-Literacy in an Age of Mis/Disinformation

From the Profusion of Online Mis/Disinformation to the Suppression of Information Through Banned Books

This festival will focus on the impact of widespread mis- and disinformation through online media on the one hand and the censorship of uncomfortable truths through book banning on the other on education and democracy. Contributors take a deeper dive into how we can prevent and reduce these harms through techniques that help to determine the origin and veracity of content.

Wednesday April 3rd, 2024

Opening remarks CEO Cheryl DeVonish

Keynote Speaker – Eileen Hershenov

“Democracy at the Crossroads: Building Resilience in the Age of Disinformation”

9:30AM – 11:00AM
Room W105

Eileen HershenovEileen Hershenov (Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Programs and Legal) joined PEN America as Interim Chief Operating Officer in 2023 and currently oversees the organization’s programmatic and policy work. PEN America is a nonprofit operating at the intersection between human rights and literature, and leading efforts across the country to combat book bans and attacks on academic freedom. Eileen previously served as a Senior Vice President for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), leading their democracy, tech policy and civil rights initiatives, and standing up a litigation program to fight extremism. She holds a BA in Economics from Yale College and a JD from Yale Law School.

We also encourage faculty to sign up if they want to bring a class to the keynote speaker.

Online Civic Reasoning workshop

2:30PM – 3:30PM
Room W122

The overload of information available on the internet that is unfiltered and unvetted has become a major concern. Anyone, including a friend who is a big believer in conspiracy theories, and even my dog, can put anything on the web in whatever format best helps proliferate their agenda. In a 2015-16 study the Stanford Univ. History Education Group (SHEG) showed that students, from middle school to college, were unable to determine the validity of information they accessed on the internet. The SHEG group (now DIG, Digital Inquiry Group) developed programs for training students and faculty in Online Civic Reasoning using techniques employed by fact-checkers, such as “lateral” vs. “vertical” reading, to determine the veracity of online content. The festival will offer a short workshop that will include access to tools to support teaching this.

Our democracy depends on it.

Sign up for this workshop here.

Library Panel discussion

1:00PM – 2:00PM
Library Reading Commons

Book bans and book challenges are on the rise in the USA. The number of books banned doubled from 2021 to 2022. And libraries and teachers have become targets of criticism, disciplinary action, and even violence if they defend and teach them. A focus of this year’s Academic Festival will be to explore why bans, challenges, and the ensuing concerns they engender have been increasing. Norwalk Navigating Controversial Literature: a research guide on banned book

Transgender Representation in Latin American Film: Unveiling Historical Narratives and Affirming Social Impact
Film discussion

Dr. Andres Aluma-Cazorla
12:30pm – 1:15pm
Room E230

Dr. Andres Aluma-CazorlaThis presentation embarks on an exploration of transgender representation in Latin American cinema, specifically focusing on the noteworthy contributions of transgender women within drag communities. The study goes beyond a brief overview, delving into cinematic adaptations and meticulously examining Hector Babenco’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1985) and Julian Schnabel’s “Before Night Falls” (2000), along with the 2020 historical romantic drama film “My Tender Matador” (Spanish: “Tengo miedo torero”), directed by Rodrigo Sepúlveda. The exploration aims to unravel how these films interpret source mate rial and contribute to the dynamic evolution of transgender representation in Latin American cinema. Additionally, these works offer a distinct lens to weave together political and national identities against the backdrop of the Argentinean, Cuban, and Chilean dictatorships in the 1980s.

Student Bio
Carly Morcos is a Stamford native and recent CT State Norwalk graduate. She will be leaving with an Associate of Science in Graphic Design and an Associate of Arts in Studio Art. Carly hopes to enter the workforce this year and begin her journey as a working Graphic Designer gaining experience in the field and broadening her portfolio.


Artist Statement
For this year’s Academic Festival theme “Information Literacy in an Age of Mis- and Disinformation” I created a digital illustration of various colored spheres separated by a convex grid. The only spheres in the foreground are of a single color and appear to be falling through while the rest of the spheres appear too large to make it past the grid. My intention for this image was to represent information literacy as the act of separating ‘true’ or unbiased sources from mis- and disinformation. The main inspiration for this work came from the concept of a sieve and how its job is to break down a substance and separate its components. The spheres represent the various forms of information while the grid in which these particles must pass through represents the ability to evaluate these sources and understand the difference in their intention.