After bringing one of her classes to State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, a traveling exhibition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty member Perri Chasin decided to create a new course that would address the power that media can have in changing public opinion.
"When I attended the State of Deception exhibition at the Los Angeles Central library last year, we were in the midst of a presidential election that was unprecedented in the amount of disinformation that was being propagated," said Chasin. "It is important for our students to understand how to be effective communicators and use their creativity to respect and embrace diversity, to be tolerant of other points of view, and to reject bigotry or hatred."
The resulting course, Social Change Through Media, caught the attention of USHMM and led them to recognize Chasin as an Inspiring Educator at the museum's annual benefit dinner on March 2, 2017. Professor Perri Chasin and one of her former students, Meg Risley, attended the event where the museum also debuted a short video they commissioned on Chasin's course.
"We are barraged with messages of fear and division and that makes it all the more necessary that my students learn how to identify and discern facts from fallacies," emphasized Chasin. "When it comes to social media, a recent study by Stanford University revealed that today’s youth cannot discern sponsored content from news and do not recognize the political bias of social messages. There is ample reason to be concerned because democracy can be threatened by the disinformation that is being so easily and readily disseminated."
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. was established to educate the world about one of the darkest chapters in human history. The museum's mission is to confront hatred and false information through the use of new technology and interactive projects, social media, and a multilingual website that will educate millions worldwide about the Holocaust and the dangers of unchecked hatred.
Photo: Top, Perri Chasin with USHMM video crew; Bottom, Perri Chasin and student Meg Risley at the USHMM benefit dinner; Homepage, Otis College students at the State of Deception exhibition