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Taming Those Wild Facts: Faculty Series to Probe Question of Real Vs. Fake

Thursday, Sep. 07, 2017

The title is sure snappy: “Facticity.” For us non-philosophy majors, that means “the state of being a fact.”

And snappy discussion is the aim of a new lecture series. Professors from every corner of Utah State University’s campus are joining together on panels to discuss the deep questions of our time.

And right now, among the most pressing questions confronting Americans is this: What’s fake? What’s real?

“Facticity: Critical Thought in a Time of Doubt” will present four gatherings throughout the 2017-18 academic year, hopefully pinning down the elusive answers.

The series’ first panel discussion, “Truth is Complicated,” will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, in the Eccles Conference Center Auditorium. The discussions are free and open to the public. Each event will be followed by a reception.

Speakers with an array of expertise will tackle the subject of why truth is so complicated. Tuesday’s panel includes a sociologist (Courtney Flint); a philosopher (Charlie Huenemann); a William Shakespeare specialist (Phebe Jensen); and a marketer (Aaron Brough).

In this age of "fake news," said Laura Gelfand, one of the series’ organizers and Art and Design Department head, “the truth is something we are all thinking about more than ever.”

In the world of academics, however, finding sources for the truth is particularly essential. As scholars, said Gelfand, “we all have methods for establishing truth and/or validity in our own fields, and these methods often contrast with those of other fields in interesting ways.”

Gelfand hopes to see  many community members among the audience. The series, she adds, supports USU's goal to “create citizen scholars.”

Schedule for “Facticity: Critical Thought in a Time of Doubt” faculty panels series (faculty names are followed by their specialty):

Tuesday, Sept. 12
5-6:30 p.m.
‘Truth is Complicated’
Aaron Brough: Business
Phebe Jensen: English
Courtney Flint: Sociology
Charlie Huenemann: Philosophy
Moderator: Tim Slocum, Special Education and Rehabilitation Department head

Nov 14 
5-6:30 p.m.
‘Truth and Consequences’

Amy Odum: Psychology
Cathy Bullock: Journalism and Communication
Jen Peeples: Communications Studies
Jason Gilmore: Communications  Studies
Moderator: Tammy Proctor, History Department head
Feb 13
5-6:30 p.m.
‘Truth and Proof’

Frank Messina: Biology
Brad Cole: Merrill-Cazier Library
Lynne McNeill: Folklore
Camille Litalien: Kinesiology and health services
Moderator: Laura Gelfand, Art + Design Department head
March 13
5-6:30 p.m.
‘Truth and Truthiness’

Kim Hixson: Journalism and Communication
Rob Davies: Physics
Melanie Dominich Rodriguez: Psychology
Norm Jones: History
Moderator: Tony Peacock, Political Science Department head

For more information, contact the series’ organizers, Timothy Slocum (; Britt Fagerheim, a reference librarian at Merrill-Cazier Library ( and Laura Gelfand (

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