UA Downtown Series to Focus on Issues of Truth and Trust

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is hosting a series of discussions with experts who will explore the current state of truth, trust and global relations in America.

By:
Lori Harwood — UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

In our current "post-truth" era of alternative facts and fake news, how do we maintain trust in one another, in our elections, in our journalists and media outlets, and in our governments and world leaders?

The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is hosting a series of discussions with national experts who will explore the current state of American truth, trust and global relations. In addition to experts from the college, participants include the executive editor of The New York Times and the former head of counterterrorism at the State Department.

Titled "Truth and Trust in the Global Scene," the series will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 11; Thursday, Oct. 19; and Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. This is the fifth year for the Downtown Series. Previous years focused on topics such as happiness, food, immortality and privacy.

"When we sat down to discuss this year's theme, we couldn't escape the fact that the topics of elections, incivility, truth in the news, and global conflict are not only what everyone is concerned and talking about, it's also what our faculty study. So we are jumping right into these weighty and controversial topics," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

"Our faculty are prepared to weave breaking news into the conversations," Jones said. "At the same time, they will offer a sense of history, global connectedness and deeper analysis than people get from their daily searches on the web. The audience will leave the Fox having learned something that they couldn't from just watching the news."

The conversations are free and seating will be first-come, first-served. The public can reserve tickets for each event in advance through Eventbrite. Tickets also are available at the Fox Tucson Theatre box office on the day of the event.

A summary of the topics and speakers in this year's series:

Oct. 11: The Future of Elections: Who and What Can We Trust?

As identity politics, partisan incivility, media and special interests reshape both the country and the vote, this discussion will consider the pivotal role of trustworthiness in maintaining a democratic society and whether elections as we know them have a future.

The conversation will feature Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse; Kate Kenski, associate professor in the Department of Communication; and Samara Klar, assistant professor in the School of Government and Public Policy. The moderator will be Christopher Conover, a reporter and producer with Arizona Public Media.

Oct. 19: Redefining Journalism in the Post-Truth Era

In an age where the facts are up for grabs, The New York Times not only reports the news but also frequently appears in the headlines for challenging government obfuscation and dishonesty. Nancy Sharkey, a professor of practice and associate director of the School of Journalism, will interview Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, about redefining journalism and safeguarding its integrity in these unprecedented times.

Oct. 26: What the News Doesn't Tell You About Rising Global Conflict

While news coverage of conflict is plentiful, it often does not reveal the inside stories behind the rise in authoritarian rule, terrorism and civil war that shapes much of our world today. This conversation with Daniel Benjamin, former State Department head of counterterrorism, will reveal what the news won't about international politics, diplomacy and the future of global conflict in its many guises. Benjamin will be joined by Faten Ghosn and Alex Braithwaite,associate professors in the School of Government and Public Policy. The moderator will be Albert Bergesen, director of the School of Sociology.