© 2023 WSIU Public Broadcasting
WSIU Public Broadcasting
A Service of Southern Illinois University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

SIU Student Speakers Forum on Nov. 2 to focus on media literacy, disinformation

Close up shot of a microphone
SIU News

Five undergraduate students will share their thoughts on media literacy and disinformation in a student speakers public forum on Thursday, Nov. 2, in the Student Center Auditorium.

This semester’s topic is “Is that a Fact? Media Literacy and (M/Dis)information.” The free, public forum is from 7 to 8 p.m.

The biannual forums, which happen each semester, began in spring 2002. The forum will also be available via the School of Communications Studies’ YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Providing a legacy of civil discussion

The forum is sponsored by the School of Communication Studies and the Society for Civil Discourse. The society was founded in 1999 when SIU Carbondale alumna Barbara Jane Schwartz of Makanda established an endowment at the university “to provide space for students to be able freely engage in civil discourse” and “support opportunities for students to exchange opinions and beliefs in topics of interest about the Carbondale campus and society,” said Sandy Pensoneau-Conway, associate professor and director of SIU’s communication studies program.

Over the years, the forum has taken on different formats; some semesters have maintained the resolution format, while other semesters focused more on a general theme, Pensoneau-Conway said.

Focus on the media

This semester’s subject notes that each day people are “bombarded with images, sounds, narratives and opinions” about the state of the world, communities and neighborhoods. The messages blur political and personal, and the “abundance” of information means people come across incorrect information and information intentionally designed to mislead. Defining methods for “discerning what is honest from what is devious is essential” for critical thinking. The forum will examine searching for “reliable routes through the fog” of misinformation and disinformation.

Chosen from auditions, students who deliver a 6-8-minute persuasive speech will each receive a $1,500 scholarship from the Society for Civil Discourse.

The students who will be speaking are:

  • Luca Bulleri, sophomore, computer science, Washington, Illinois — topic: artificial intelligence.
  • Isobel Hamilton, freshman, dental hygiene, South Beloit, Illinois — topic: conspiracy theories.
  • Dorian Sparks, sophomore, health care management, Metropolis, Illinois — topic: mis/disinformation.
  • Anthony Mootry, sophomore, sports administration, Flossmoor, Illinois — topic: athletes and social media.
  • Blessing Smithley, junior, psychology, Box Elder, South Dakota — topic: algorithms.

Student-led effort

Pensoneau-Conway believes one of the best things about the forum is that it is entirely student-led, with a graduate student serving as lead organizer. The support staff is also primarily graduate students with the input of a faculty adviser. She credited this year’s forum coordinator, T. Brown, a graduate teaching assistant in the School of Communication Studies, for his extensive outreach to academic programs on campus and making the forum widely known.

Students selected for the forum “get an incredible event to add to their portfolios” along with gaining valuable public speaking experience, she said.

“I especially love when a student who has public speaking anxiety is able to work with and through that anxiety to deliver a speech to a live crowd, as well as a virtual audience,” Pensoneau-Conway said. “I may not know them, but I feel so proud of them. Throughout the forum process, student speakers increase and develop their self-confidence, they improve their oral communication skills, they enhance their critical listening and critical thinking skills, they develop their ability to respond to oral arguments and they develop their organizational, public speaking, leadership, teamwork and management skills. It's also great to see how they support and encourage one another.”

For more information on the event, contact T. Brown at todd.brown@siu.edu.


Pete Rosenbery — arts and design, architecture, automotive and aviation, humanities, journalism and mass communications, law, public policy, social sciences.

SIU News is produced by University Communications and Marketing - 618-453-2589. Twitter: @SIUCNews
As a WSIU donor, you don’t simply watch or listen to public media programs, you are a partner. By making a gift, you help WSIU produce, purchase, and broadcast programs you care about and enjoy – every day of the year.