As part of the Kinder Institute’s Spring 2018 Public Lecture Series, Alexander Heffner, host of PBS’ The Open Mind, will be on campus on March 20 to give a talk on the implications of, and potential solutions to, the polarized and contentious landscape of contemporary social and political discourse (see below for a brief abstract). A panel discussion on speech on campus, co-sponsored by the Truman School of Public Affairs and moderated by MU Professor and Chair of Black Studies Stephanie Shonkean, will follow the lecture. Both events will be held in the Fred W. Smith Forum at the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI 200), with the lecture set to begin at 5:30pm and the panel discussion at approximately 6:15pm.

Missouri Lawyers are eligible to receive 1 hour of Continuing Legal Education credit for attending the event.


Divisiveness today is a pervasive plague on discourse and governance. Social media proliferate clickbait, fake news, and filter bubbles. Algorithms polarize information intake. So what are possible prescriptions to correct this vicious cycle? How can our digital footprint translate into prosocial rather than antisocial behavior? How can the press restore faith in the democratic process?

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and conducted in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.


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