LIS 101: Global Warming and the Mass Media Landscape

Welcome to LIS 101, Global Warming and the Mass Media Landscape. We will be looking at global warming through the lens of information literacy, which is defined as the ability to know when information is needed and then to access, critically evaluate, and ethically use that information. You’ll learn the practical skills for each of those tasks, and more broadly, come to understand some of the economic, political, cultural, and psychological elements that comprise the creation, dissemination, and (mis)understanding of information.  Global warming, terrifying as it is, provides a well-defined and fascinating backdrop for each of these considerations.

I have posted links to all of my blog entries to correspond with the weekly schedule.  Although there are other reading assignments, consider these blog posts foregrounding of the issues.  In general the first class of the week focuses on the mass media environment and/or a philosophical issue of information literacy and the second focuses on a particular skill or skill set.

 Week 1

First Class:   Our class session will be spent touring the library, looking at our webpage, reviewing the syllabus, and taking the pre-course assessment. We will also look at The Information Literacy Tutorial. You will need to set up a temporary registration to access the site. Some of the concepts are pretty basic and might seem kind of funny, but it establishes a good baseline of understanding for the rest of the course

Second Class:  Today we will talk about the library webpage, the online public access catalog (OPAC), and how call numbers work.  Then we will have a scavenger hunt.  In order to prepare, please familiarize yourself with the content at each link:   The library webpage, OPAC, Call numbers.


Week 2

First Class:   The Library at Alexandria is considered the prototype of present-day libraries. Though the story is old, there are still important lessons to learn from its history concerning the social, economic, and political dimensions of information literacy.

Second Class:   Search Strategies, Databases, Knowing which sources to consult for which occasion


 Week 3

First Class:   The history of books is instructive as we grapple with the social, economic, and political dimensions of information literacy. In the past it was tremendously expensive to print a book, and that cost meant that only some books made it to the printer.  How were those books chosen?  Later, with the desktop publishing revolution and the internet, it became much less expensive to publish a book (or e-book).  How did this effect what we, as a society, read?

Second Class:   APA and MLA RecapQuoting Paraphrasing and Summarizing


Week 4

First Class:   Two readings tonight!  No class on information literacy would be complete without talking about what it means to know something, so please review these notes on epistemology, which is the study of knowledge. Also, I want you to review this brief history of the science of global warming. Think about how our accumulated understanding of global warming corresponds to the definition of knowledge.

Second Class:    A Sample Annotated Bibliography Entry, How to Summarize an ArticleHow to Summarize a Scientific Study or Research Article


Week 5

First Class:   Embedded in the history of newspapers are some interesting things to think about regarding our political process, and how our politics inform our information sources and vice versa.   How does biased news impact democratic societies?

Second Class:   What Do You Do With What you Find


Week 6

First Class:   This brief overview of The Legal and Political Landscape for Information Literacy is pretty demanding because it not only touches on some important pieces of legislation, it also tries to unpack the political landscape that produced the laws. There has always been a tension between government and business and people and industry, and the laws are a reflection of that tension. Additionally, the discussion of framing and the Overton Window tries to show how (and why) these tensions are traditionally discussed in our society.

Second Class:   A Sample Paper Outline


Week 7

First Class:   Two Readings tonight!  Here I present two different models of government censorship, the kind that happened in the USSR and the kind that happens in America.  There are important differences, but the net result is the same:  people are deprived of necessary information.  Also, read the short post about the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and think about how it too reflects censorship.

Second Class:   The Research Paper Process in Ten Steps


Week 8

1st. Class: This week we explore how media ownership creates a de facto corporate censorship.

2nd class: Can they make us buy something we don’t want?  How advertising and marketing affect discourse in the public square. Review of search strategies and Boolean operators


Week 9

1st. Class: How Culture Defines the Parameters of the Conversation.  We look at the Boston Tea Party and discuss the contest for the public memory of the event, as well as how that public memory was used to shape American culture.  We also touch on dog whistles and the media elite.

2nd Class:  A brief explanation of primary vs. secondary sources.


Week 10

1st. Class:    The internet doesn’t deserve the bad rap it gets.  Or does it?  The pitfalls of internet research.

2nd. Class:    Evaluating Online Sources,  Consider the Source; Post-course-assessment


Week 11

1st. Class:    Two Readings tonight!  Think Tanks and Sound Science and Think Tanks in Action.  What are think tanks, where did they come from, what kind of influence do they exert on information in the public sphere, and finally, is there anything sound about “sound science?”

2nd. Class:    Selecting Topics, Choosing Groups


Week 12

1st. Class:    It would be easy to say, “OK, everyone just needs better information!” But there are economic, political, and even psychological hurdles to making that happen. Is it possible that our very nature dooms us to inaction on global warming?  The Role We Play in Censorship.

2nd. Class:    Free Research Day for group project outline


Week 13

1st. Class:    The Internet Revisited. With the freedom to publish anything comes the freedom to read anything.  What happens when people surround themselves only with information they agree with, and how is the world wide web constructed to facilitate this exact problem?  If you are the kind of person who likes to “dig until I find the truth,” how do you know when to stop digging?

2nd. Class:    Free Research Day for group project outline


Week 14

1st. Class:    Strategies for Debiasing Misinformation. Say you recognize that global warming is happening and want to tell others about it.  What is the best way to correct misinformation that people may have about the subject?  It is much, much harder than you think it will be.

2nd. Class:    Free Research Day for group project outline


Week 15

1st. Class:    Thinking about how it is all connected.  Let me hear what you think.

2nd. Class:    In-class group presentations.


Week 16

1st. Class:    In-class group presentations.

2nd. Class:    In-class group presentations.





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