Office of the President
Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor
Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President
Confronting the Disinformation Age at the 2019 SFU Public Square Community Summit
Information is fundamental to a well-functioning society.
However, in this age of disinformation, we are bombarded daily with self-serving distortions and outright falsehoods – in advertising, on websites and television, and through social media.
In the face of this onslaught, what are citizens to do? How do we counter disinformation, and differentiate fact from fiction, in this distorted landscape?
These questions are at the heart of our seventh annual SFU Public Square Community Summit – Confronting the Disinformation Age running from April 10 to 18.
The Community Summit is a signature initiative of SFU’s Vision to be Canada’s Engaged University. Within that vision, we commit ourselves to providing the pubic with meaningful opportunities and inclusive venues to engage in constructive dialogue on important issues of the day.
This same commitment to engagement may also prove to be one of the best hopes for confronting disinformation. Universities are repositories of knowledge and can play an important role by hosting forums in which reliable evidence and creative ideas can be shared and tested.
The keynote event of this year’s Summit takes place April 16. Offered in partnership with Vancity, Confronting the Disinformation Age features David Frum, Sue Gardner and Christopher Wylie in conversation with the CBC’s Ian Hanomansing. They’ll discuss the distortion of our information landscape and how best to confront it.
Other Summit highlights include:
- Innovations in Research (April 10): An evening showcasing SFU researchers and innovators who are designing solutions to confront the disinformation age;
- Is Social Media Destroying Democracy? (April 11): A debate on Social media in the age of disinformation moderated by the CBC’s Stephen Quinn;
- Youth Take Action - Digital Citizenship Day (April 17): A full day workshop for high school students on building digital literacy; and
- The Philosophy of Fake News (April 17): Three philosophers grapple with how disinformation works, and how it poses a serious threat to our democratic institutions.
All events are open to the public, and a full schedule is available online.
I hope you’ll join us for the 2019 Community Summit as we engage in a timely and important dialogue on Confronting the Disinformation Age.