Fall 2019 - POL 318 D100

Fake News and Alt-Facts: Navigating Post-Truths Politics (4)

Class Number: 7426

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    SECB 1013, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 4, 2019
    3:29 PM – 3:29 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in Political Science or permission of the department.



Explores the emergence of post-truth politics; the rejection of expert and scientific opinion; and the emergence of "alternative facts" and "fake news" in political discourse on current issues such as climate change, immigration and the economy. Also explores corresponding increase in the ideological polarization in the US, Canada, and the UK and other European nations. Students with credit for POL 339 Selected Topics in Comparative Government and Politics under the title Navigating the Post-Truth World may not take this course for further credit.


In this course we will cover what it means to say that we live in a post-truth world, and how to navigate the ocean of political information in that world. We will explore the rejection of expert opinion and statistics as fact. We will examine the concept of alternative facts and we will ask what distinguishes fake news from other (non-fake?) news. We will examine the increasing difficulty of engaging in civil discourse with those across the political divide. We will learn how to think critically under such circumstances and how to engage in constructive political disagreement. Throughout the course we will connect the discussion taking place in traditional and social media with research from a range of fields, such as political and social psychology, and political communication.

There will be a 4-hour seminar each week.


  • In class quizzes 25%
  • In class presentation 15%
  • In class exercises 10%
  • Case study 25%
  • Final exam (due December 3) 25%



Chatfield, Tom. 2018. Critical Thinking. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd.


Nichols, Thomas M. 2017. The Death of Expertise: the Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.
For details, see http://www.sfu.ca/politics/undergraduate/program/related_links.html and click on “Plagiarism and Intellectual Dishonesty” .

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html