In the wake of challenges to intellectual freedom by government authorities and academics with opposing viewpoints, access to reliable sources and varying perspectives in academia can be difficult. “What’s the role of the Higher Ed community in supporting intellectual freedom?” a webinar held on September 22 as part of Banned Books Week, brought together academics to examine these issues.
Panelists Aaisha Haykal, an archivist at the College of Charleston, Emily Knox, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and John Burgess, a professor at the University of Alabama, joined moderator Camille Gamboa to discuss information ethics and navigating sources.
Haykal provided ways of how individuals can advocate and oppose bans on information.
“It’s about attending city council meetings [and] school board meetings to make sure if someone comes up with a book, you are there to counteract and provide the other side of the conversation,” she said
Knox spoke about how misinformation is often based on a consumer’s interpretation of facts.
“When I talk about misinformation and disinformation, it’s not about facts. It’s about the interpretation of those facts,” she said. “You can’t steer people away from misinformation because misinformation is how they are understanding what you are presenting to them”
Burgess reflected on how he believes the safeguarding of intellectual freedom is part of a larger process of societal change.
“The strategy is going to involve distributing equity, fairness and justice as broad as possible through our society,” he said.
This hour-long webinar was sponsored by SAGE Publishing, the parent of Social Science Space.
Aaisha Haykal is the manager of Archival Services at the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. She has written for JSTOR Daily and research guides for subjects including African American Studies and Southern Studies.
Emily Knox is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her publications include the book, Book Banning in 21st Century America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), and she served as an editor of Foundations of Information Ethics (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2019).
John Burgess is an assistant professor at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. His research has been featured in the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy, the Journal of Information Ethics and MediaTropes.