Libraries’ Open Mind Series returns with event on informed citizenship and mass media


Jenna Moldaver, Voices Editor

The Open Mind Series, hosted by the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries, will return next week with a discussion on the changing roles of higher education and journalism in disseminating information. The event, called “Informed Citizenship and the Economics of Information,” will feature a panel of three speakers who will explore the challenges facing these institutions in reclaiming authority in a world of constantly accessible information.

Panelists will include Chas Sisk, a Senior Editor of Nashville Public Radio, Elisabeth Shook, a Vanderbilt Librarian for Copyright and Scholarly Communications and Ken Paulson, the Dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment and the President of Newseum Institute First Amendment Center. The event will take place in the Central Library Community Room from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The series was initially launched to encourage students and faculty with diverging opinions to come together and discuss key issues.

“It started as a way to bring members of the campus community together and bring different perspectives together,” said Mary Anne Caton, the Senior Consultant for Educational and Interpretive Programs at the library and a key organizer of the event. “This time, the focus is on informed citizenship and how the explosion of media content has made it challenging to keep abreast of news and to evaluate news and media.”

Caton said that in planning the event, organizers seek out individuals who may have diverging opinions, and invite and encourage disagreement in the event. Overall, the goal is to debate the implications of mass media for historically authoritative institutions, first amendment rights and the overall state and direction of higher education and journalism as distributors of knowledge. The speakers and audience will also consider how to achieve informed citizenship and what that looks like in a modern context.

“Informed citizenship creates informed citizen leaders, and we know that Vanderbilt students will be leaders in their fields,” said Valerie Hotchkiss, the University Librarian.

Since its launch, the Open Mind Series has fostered discussions on relevant subjects, such as our construction of history and memory in public spaces in the context of the Charlottesville riots, and has invited speakers from various academic disciplines and professions within the Vanderbilt community and beyond it.

The event on Monday will begin with a moderated Q&A and then transition into a more open discussion with the audience, who will be encouraged to ask questions. GME and DYV credit will be extended to attendees.