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FLC professor receives second Fulbright award, heading to Italy to study fake news

FLC professor receives second Fulbright award, heading to Italy to study fake news

This is the second time Philosophy Professor Justin McBrayer receives an award from the prestigious Fulbright Program

Justin McBrayerHow can a free society secure the goods of freedom while minimizing the harms of fake news? 

That is one of the questions Fort Lewis College Philosophy Professor Justin McBrayer hopes to answer through a research and teaching project funded by a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award.

The author of “Beyond Fake News, Finding the Truth in a World of Misinformation," McBrayer said the award will allow him to continue exploring the issue of misinformation and fake news. Specifically, he will explore a range of steps liberal societies may justifiably take to limit the production and spread of fake news, encourage the production and spread of genuine news, and insulate political and social life from the harms of fake news that cannot be suppressed. 

"Liberal democracies allow people to think and say what they want, yet they require informed citizens every election cycle. How can they balance the two in an era of AI, social media, and disinformation campaigns?” 

This is the second time McBrayer has received an award from the prestigious Fulbright Program, which is “devoted to increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” 

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers over 400 awards in more than 135 countries for U.S. citizens to teach, conduct research, and carry out professional projects around the world. The Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program.

“It feels a bit like lightening striking the same place twice—Fulbright awards are incredibly competitive, and I’m delighted to have a second chance to teach and write abroad as a citizen-ambassador"

McBrayer will spend a term in Italy both conducting research and teaching at the University of Genoa, Italy. 

“This location is absolutely ideal for my project given both the unique research and teaching opportunities,” he said.

On the research side, McBrayer said he will be working directly with researchers in epistemology, ethics, and politics at three universities in Italy: the University of Genoa, the University of Pavia, and Roma 3 University

These universities have collectively received a research grant by the Italian Ministry of University and Research entitled Distrust in Science Reframed: Understanding and Countering Anti-scientific Behavior

Fulbright logo“It is an interdisciplinary project at the intersection of epistemology, ethics, and political theory.  The goal is to provide a clear rationale for the policies and incentives that liberal governments may put into practice to combat the fake news epidemic,” he said.

On the teaching side, he will be working directly with graduate students enrolled at the three universities associated with the grant

“The content of my teaching will be largely restricted to the topics of my research project: liberal societies and fake news. This will allow me to develop my ideas and proposals in concert with graduate students who can serve as first readers for policy suggestions,” he added.

His teaching duties will be intensive, he added, and will include a stand-alone doctoral-level course; a master-level course in Moral Epistemology he will co-teach with Michel Croce, PhD; and a seminar for doctoral candidates working on their dissertations.

“This will be particularly valuable since dissertations in epistemology are required to be written in English and having a native speaker will help the students immensely as they learn to write for an English audience of journal editors and prospective employers.”

“Faculty at Fort Lewis have two responsibilities: teaching and researching. This temporary research leave will give me time to produce research that will help liberal governments make good choices about how to combat fake news while respecting freedom of thought. That’s important for all of us living in liberal democracies.”

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