#HumCitizen: Democracy and the Informed Citizen

Presented by:
Missouri Humanities Council
Current Initiative: Democracy and the Informed Citizen National Partner: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Colleges and Universities, Nonprofits, Other Subject: History, Journalism, Other, Varies Audience: All, Colleges and Universities, Young Adult

Missouri Humanities Council will explore the role of journalism as a vital pillar of democracy in four major urban centers of the state and examine what it means to be an informed citizen – both locally and nationally. Programs will be offered in Columbia, Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis. All programs will be offered free of admission and open to the public.

The Missouri council will work with partners across the state.

In Columbia: The council will partner with the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri to underwrite Volume 4 of the Journal on Constitutional Democracy, which will be devoted to this initiative and titled: “Open During Construction: Informing/Informed Democracy.” This undergraduate-run, scholarly publication will ask students and scholars at MU to submit articles that focus on one of two core questions: 1) how the increase of and increase access to information has shaped the national narrative over time; and 2) how archival work – the excavation of information that has largely fallen out of circulation – can foster deeper understanding of the ideas, events, and thinkers that have determined the trajectory of American democracy. The council will also present Alexander Heffner, journalist/civic educator and host of “The Open Mind” (PBS) at the MU campus for a public lecture and community conversation on what he has learned through his many interviews with journalists and humanities scholars. His lecture will focus on the dissemination of informatio in contemporary America, as well as his thoughts on the approach a citizen might take in order to embody the spirit of what it means, in a democratic society to be informed. Additionally, the council will offer a two-day conference, held at MU, that will feature panels of journalists from the Columbia Tribune, student writers from the Journal presenting work, and undergraduate commenters.

In Kansas City: The council will partner with the American Public Square to host a forum entitled, “Fake News,” which will address the question “what is fake news?” and explore how its expanding presence is changing the national dialogue on important issues.

In Springfield: The council will partner with Missouri State University and Drury University to offer a public forum at the Springfield-Greene County Public Library around the theme of “The Informed Citizen.” Specifically, the forum will address the role of journalists/journalism in educating citizenry throughout the nation’s history, outlining the manner in which information and disinformation has been conveyed to the American citizen since the early days of America’s founding and tracing the many hurdles toward reliable information throughout American history.

In St. Louis: The council will partner with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch to host a “Think & Drink” at 4 Hands Brewery that will feature a moderated panel discussion and Q&A with leading reporters at the Post-Dispatch. The theme will be devoted to exploring obstacles to sustaining high-quality journalism, especially local journalism and potential solutions.

List of events:

MARCH 2018

Fake News Forum – Kansas City, MO – The council partnered with American Public Square to host this event, which featured panelists Mark Alford, Fox 4 News Anchor; Colleen McCain Nelson, VP/Editorial Page Editor of Kansas City Star; Kevin Madden, Communications Strategist and CNN Commentator; and Margaret Talev, Senior White House Correspondent for Bloomberg. The panelists discussed the prevalence and purveyors of fake news. Watch the video here.

The Quest for Post-Partisan Citizenship Spring 2018 Public Lecture – Columbia, MO – PBS’s host of The Open Mind, Alexander Heffner, presented the lecture on civility and incivility and the dissemination of misinformation on social media. Heffner also discussed shareholder activism and how ideological bigotry and toxic partisanship have not only migrated into but are also being combated within the human arena. Immediately following Heffner’s presentation, the Kinder Institute and Truman School convened a panel of five MU faculty members.


Think ‘N Drink: Russian Bots and American Thoughts Springfield, MO – Join the Missouri Humanities Council for this current event discussion at the White River Brewing Company. Enjoy a beverage while panelists and fellow attendees discuss “Fake News – Russian Bots and American Thoughts.”  Panelists include Chuck Maulden, KOLR-10 news director, Nina Jankowicz, Kennan Institute global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Bret Schafer, social media analyst and Communications Officer at the Alliance for Securing Democracy. The event will be moderated by Dr. Jonathan Groves, assistant professor of communications and department chair of Communication at Drury University.