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Brooks Lecture Series to explore the culture of truth

In the last couple years, Americans have reopened disputes about ideas that once seemed settled.

Once acceptable books, lessons and discussions are banned in many classrooms. Social and news media are plagued by misinformation. The reality of the science that underpins modern life has come into question.

At SUNY Cortland, the 2022-23 Rozanne M. Brooks Lecture Series will take on  these timely topics in six separate lectures or poster sessions on the theme of “The Culture of Truth.” The series’ talks and accompanying receptions, starting on Sept. 21, are free and open to the public.

“Over the last decade, ‘truth’ has seemed to become a rare resource,” said Brooks lecture series organizer and Brooks Museum director Sharon Steadman, a SUNY distinguished professor and chair of SUNY Cortland’s Sociology/Anthropology Department.

“The Brooks Lecture Series this year investigates why truth seems so fleeting in today’s world, but also where we might find it in the most surprising places,” Steadman said.

Among the presentations:

  • The Highest Calling: Teaching the Truth — Lin Lin, an associate professor in SUNY Cortland’s Department of Childhood/Early Childhood Education., will discuss why teachers are pushing back against laws in some states that prevent educators from teaching history honestly. She will share her experiences with Chinese education and her work in developing teachers to have the courage to teach what they know to be true. Sept. 21.
    Lin Lin
  • False Speech and the First Amendment  — Nina Brown, assistant professor in Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, will explore what false communications — including fake news, campaign lies and digital deepfakes — are protected as free speech under the U.S. Constitution.  She will discuss why the First Amendment often protects false speech, even when it causes harm. Oct.12.
  • Students Speak the Truth — A student panel will discuss ideas about how students can express their own truth. TBA in November.
  • Science and Truth: Ignorance is the Objective — Robert Darling, SUNY distinguished teaching professor of geology at SUNY Cortland, will explore how scientific theory and testing can help people figure out what is and isn’t true. Darling will discuss using the language of scientific communication to discern between ‘belief’ and ‘fact.’ March 22.
  • Don’t say 'It’s going to be okay': Learning and Teaching in the Age of Climate Collapse — Jeremy Jiménez, an assistant professor in SUNY Cortland’s Foundations and Social Advocacy Department, will share how Singaporean youth perceive climate crisis denial and minimization and express their views while living under an authoritarian government. March 22.
  • Evolution and All That’: Why Americans Can’t Stop Fighting about Creationism — Adam Laats, an assistant professor in Binghamton University’s Department of Teaching, Learning and Educational Leadership, will explain that it’s not lack of information about evolution that leads people to deny evolution. It’s a lack of trust of mainstream institutions, including scientists. April 12.

The talks all take place on Wednesdays and begin at 4:30 p.m. in Moffett Center, Room 115. Seating will be limited and cannot be exceeded so attendees should  come early to secure a seat.

A reception to welcome each speaker one half hour before the talk may be announced. Events in the series are subject to change.

The 2022-23 Brooks Lecture Series is sponsored by the Cortland College Foundation and Cortland Auxiliary. For more information, contact Steadman at 607-753-2308.