Course Title: Truth and Lies in the Digital World
Course Code: 50:209:110
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 11:10-12:30
Location: Nursing and Science Building, Room 202
Professor: Dr. James Brown
Office Location: Digital Commons, Room 104
Office Hours: Tuesday 9:30am-11:00am (or by appointment)

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this class, students will be able to:

  • Understand how different disciplines address questions of misinformation, propaganda, and verifying truth in digital environments
  • Articulate the problems of misinformation, propaganda, and verifying truth in historical context
    Analyze the ethical obligations of the producers and consumers of information
  • Explain the roles certain digital technologies play in the problems of misinformation, propaganda, and verifying truth

Ethics and Values Outcomes

This course fulfills the Ethics and Values general education requirement. Upon completion of this EAV course, students will be able to:

  • Analyze ethical debates in terms of their underlying assumptions and implications.
  • Recognize the ethical values at stake in practical, concrete, and/or everyday situations.
  • Apply ethical reasoning toward solving practical problems.
  • Formulate, communicate, and evaluate effective ethical arguments.

Required Purchases

All students will need to purchase a minimum of two pocket-sized notebooks to be used as commonplace books (details will be discussed in class). You will be able to consult these notebooks during exams, but they must be pocket-sized. If you have questions about whether your notebook is too big, please ask. You may end up needing more than two of these notebooks, depending on how much you decide to write in them. However, everyone will need at least two.

Required Texts

Everything we are reading in this class will be provided as PDFs or links. You do not need to purchase any books.


All assignments and exams in class are assigned a point value. If an assignment is worth 1 point, then it is worth 1% of your grade. If an exam is worth 20 points, it is worth 20% of your grade. You will be evaluated on the following work:

  • Attendance: 15%

      If you show up to class on time (by 11:15am) and remain in class until it ends, you will receive credit for that class day. Attendance for one class period is worth .5% of your grade.
  • Hypothesis Annotations: 15%

      For each reading in this class, we will be using a tool called Hypothesis to collaboratively annotate and discuss the reading. Each annotation assignment is worth 1 point, and these assignments are graded on a credit/no-credit basis. Grades are provided based on whether you have put forth a good-faith effort at completing the assignment.
  • Commonplace Books: 15%

      Throughout the course, you will record notes, thoughts, and ideas in pocket-sized commonplace books. We will discuss how you can approach this activity during class. You will be able to consult these commonplace books during exams, so it will benefit you to put as much effort into these as possible. You will submit these commonplace books for a grade after each of the two exams, and they will be graded based on whether you have put forth a good-faith effort at completing the assignment. Each commonplace book is worth 7.5% of your grade.
  • Exam 1: 20%
  • Exam 2: 20%
      We will have two exams in this class, each covering a separate unit of material. Exams will ask you to identify and define key terms from the reading, answer some fill in the blank questions, and answer short answer questions (answers are typicall around 4 sentences). Please consult the course schedule for exam dates.
  • Group Project: Collaborative Research on Truth and Lies in the Digital World 15%
      You will complete group project and presentation. Groups will identify a research question that they would like to pursue and then find a scholarly article that is related to that research question. Groups will be comprised of approximately 4 students. If members of a group inform me that any group members are not participating in the project, I will meet with those people and issue a warning. If the problem persists, those not participating in the project will receive no credit for the assignment.

Grading Scale

A 90-100
B 80-87
C 70-77
D 60-69
F 59 and below

Attendance Policy

At the beginning of each class, I will provide a sign-in sheet. In order to receive credit for attending class, you must sign that sheet before 11:15. If something will routinely prevent you from arriving at class by 11:15, please see me during the first week of class.

Technology Policy

I ask that you please silence and put away your phone during class. If you absolutely need to have access to your phone during class on a regular basis, please see me during the first week of class to discuss. You are free to use devices that aid your participation in class, such as accessing readings or taking notes.

Accessibility Policy

Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the its educational programs, and I am committed to making this class as accessible as possible to as many students as possible. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact the Learning Center, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation:

If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, the Learning Center will provide you with a Letter of Accommodations. Please share this letter with me as early in the semester as possible so that we can discuss the accommodations. To begin this process, please complete the Registration form at

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