LIS-S 640 Seminar in Intellectual Freedom
- Prerequisite(s): LIS-S 500, LIS-S 507. Note: School Library Certificate students may bypass all prerequisites.
- Delivery: Online
- Semesters offered: Spring (Check the schedule to confirm.)
Intellectual freedom concerns information philosophy, ethics, and discussion of timely sociotechnical issues associated with freedom. Your primary concern is the ability of humans to participate in intellectual activities to seek and use information. From some angles, your concern will be information seeking and use without intrusion and influence. From other angles, you will examine justifiable reasons where such actions should be limited. While not always the case, intellectual freedom naturally concerns end products from intellectual activities, such as speech acts (e.g., literal speech, writing, art, other creative endeavors). You will as a result examine social, technological, and political structures that interact with one’s intellectual freedom. Topics addressed will reflect timely issues and, therefore, change from semester to semester. Topics may not center directly on issues of librarianship, but students have significant flexibility to address intellectual freedom concerns that are of professional interest to them.
Program Learning Goals Supported
Instructors map their courses to specific LIS Program Goals. Mapped program goals drive the design of each course and what students can expect to generally learn.
- Connect Core Values and Professional Ethics to Practice
- Lead and Manage Libraries, Archives and Other Information Organizations
Instructors develop learning outcomes for their courses. Students can expect to be able to achieve the learning outcomes for a given course after successfully completing the course.
- Connect and evaluate the existence of core principles of intellectual freedom in and between works of literature, modern research, professional practice, and current events.
- Examine one’s views and knowledge of freedom, liberty, and more specifically, intellectual freedom, as they relate to their personal and professional lives.
- Develop grounded, persuasive arguments for specific stakeholders arguing in support of intellectual freedom practices (e.g., policies, programs, technological designs).
Instruction is in Canvas. Lessons are organized into Modules whose length may vary.
Module 1: Personhood and Autonomy
- define autonomy;
- discuss the connection between autonomy and personhood; and,
- address the relationship between autonomy and a particular humanist philosophy of librarianship.
Module 2: Freedom, Liberty, Liberalism
- understand the differences between connections among autonomy and freedom;
- define two major branches of freedom;
- associate the content-neutral positive with American librarianship's approach to intellectual freedom and related information policies; and,
- reflect on whether or not this content-neutral approach is a just approach.
Module 3: Just Societies
- define justice;
- understand the key principle of Rawls' approach to social justice; and
- conduct a Rawlsian analysis to justly distribute information resources.
Module 4: Foundations of Intellectual Freedom
- understand the professional context of intellectual freedom;
- critique the role of neutrality in intellectual freedom; and
- discuss how a neutral position is problematic for other LIS values, such as equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Module 5: Mill: ”Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion”
- understand the basic elements of utilitarianism and deontology;
- apply two distinct ethical frameworks to intellectual freedom; and
- examine how a specific ethical approach to intellectual freedom produces different outcomes.
Module 6: Dewey: “Democracy and Education”
- explain the relationship between intellectual freedom and democratic participation; and
- argue in support of educational institutions and intellectual freedom practices and policies because of their necessity in democracies.
Module 7: Neoliberal Constructions of Intellectual Freedom
- succinctly define neoliberalism;
- describe the negative impact of neoliberalism on education and information institutions; and
- identify and critique neoliberal arguments promoted by library professionals.
Module 8: Professional Ethics and Intellectual Freedom: Teachers, Academics, Librarians
- define learning analytics and educational data mining, especially as it relates to academic libraries;
- summarize the key privacy and intellectual freedom concerns; and
- characterize the professional ethics issues stemming from learning analytics.
Module 9: Filter Bubbles and Algorithmic Nudging
- characterize the mythology of filter bubbles;
- explain how filter bubbles are mostly driven by homophilic behavior;
- understand the role of algorithms in nudges; and
- discuss how homophilic filter bubbles combined with nudges limit one's intellectual freedom.
Module 10: Social Media and Cancel Culture
- define cancel culture and how it has evolved on the political spectrum;
- explain how American conservatives have used cancel culture as a political and social tool; and
- identify collection and curricular targets of cancel culture.
Module 11: CRT: Critical Race Theory and “Critical Race Theory”
- define critical race theory;
- distinguish between critical race theory as an academic theory and a political talking point; and
- recognize how critical race theory is being used to systematically limit access to education and information resources that address social justice issues.
Policies and Procedures
Please be aware of the following linked policies and procedures. Note that in individual courses instructors will have stipulations specific to their course.