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Information Environmentalism

The web is polluted

DLINQ believes that higher education should be leading the way in improving our digital information ecosystem. Higher education should be saving the web. Help us make a difference.

About the initiative

The web is part of the information ecosystem from which we all learn, and we know more clearly than ever how misinformation can impact our country and our world. Misinformation on the web is polarizing us, it’s radicalizing us (see The Miseducation of Dylann Roof) and we should be paying attention. Better yet, higher education should be leading the way in improving our information ecosystem. Higher education should be saving the web.

How should higher education institutions like Middlebury be thinking about their role in combating digital pollution (mis/disinformation)? We can begin by engaging in information environmentalism, which Mike Caulfield defines as improving our online information environments. This can be a personal project (e.g., a digital detox), but more importantly, it can and should be an educational project with civic engagement goals. Curricular and co-curricular activities can start to clean up the misinformation on the web, and help us combat a sense of helplessness and cynicism through real, consequential, actions.

Information Environmentalism involves getting students to post high quality information to the web and to examine and counteract how mis/disinformation spreads on the web.

Will you and your students join the movement? Will you help us start an information environmentalism project at Middlebury?

Are you teaching any classes that relate to the drivers (visual/UX, psychological/social, economic, algorithmic, data) of misinformation spread via web platforms and services? Are you teaching classes on information design, art, rhetoric, or any topic about how to influence people? Economics? Big data? Digital literacy? Or are you teaching a topic for which the spread of misinformation via digital platforms is a huge issue (climate science, immunizations, public health, etc.)?

If so, join DLINQ's Information Environmentalism initiative. As educators and scholars, we cannot ignore the misinformation in digital social spaces. We must engage on these platforms and begin to depollute them. As educators, as scholars, as citizens, we have work to do.

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