New Class @ Illinois Institute of Technology Asked “Who’s Lying To You Now?” – Will Investigate Marketing to Children
IIT instructor Tom Tresser offered a new class, Who’s Lying To You Now?” for the Fall 2010 semester. This class introduces the basics of critical thinking and the principles of media literacy.
“In a political season, such as the one we’re in now, it becomes extremely important for citizens to discriminate truth from spin,” says Tresser. “Or, to put it more bluntly, we all need to have reliable BS detectors to help us navigate the minefields that dissemblers lay before us on a daily basis.”
Here’s what one student said of the Fall 2010 class:
It Changed My Life
As an assignment for PSYC 380, Media Literacy and Critical Thinking, taught by Tom Tresser in Fall 2010, each student was to articulate the long term goals of his/her life and how much time of the day he/she spends towards nurturing and honing our skills to realize those goals. And one key point our professor raised was that we, as young students should find mentors.
This assignment was supposed to be a 3-4 page long response. I could not simply “b.s.” for three pages. I had to sit and think what to write. 10 days of thinking, and for the first time I realized I was in a rat race chasing immediate goals and petty passions. After having written that paper, I still could not stop thinking about it.
A few weeks later, I contacted Professor Swamy, India’s former Minister of Law and Commerce, who is also a part time faculty at Harvad, to become my mentor. From early childhood, I wanted to be somebody like Gandhi, but my endless material pursuits and peer pressure to become a good engineer/scientist had smothered this spark. Professor Swamy responded back in affirmative to my request and I am planning to intern under him in Constitutional Law and eventually join politics.
My research background in Physics, including fellowships at Argonne National Lab and CERN, my brief attendance at MIT are all in deep contrast with my long term goals. It is the few Humanities, Psychology, Philosophy and History courses that I took half heartedly at IIT that would poise me towards my real passion.
I am grateful to IIT and particularly our Psychology department for all what I am going to become.
This class was first offered at DePaul University and had a special focus on the issue of drug company mass marketing. Students formed small teams to tackle different aspects of this issue. “Did you know that pharmaceutical companies spent $4.5 billion on drug advertising to consumers in 2006, an increase over 100% since 2000,” asks Tresser. ”Did you know that the big drug companies paid millions of dollars to doctors for speaking engagements and research in 2006 in Minnesota alone? These are some of the things the students from that class uncovered.”
The IIT class had teams researching the topic of mass marketing to children.
Other topics this class will address:
– the key elements of critical thinking
– the 5 key questions to ask when looking at ads and political messages
– Stephen Colbert’s concept of Wiki-knowledge and “truthiness”
– a review of public opinion regarding weapons of mass deception in Iraq
– concepts of lying and trust with special guest experts
Students rated this class highly, giving it a 4.42 out of 5 or the question, “Overall, I would rate the value of what I learned in this course. “I will be more conscious of what I say to myself and others,” wrote one student in their evaluation. Other students commented on the insights they gained on the media, politics and personal honesty.
One of the students from the Fall 2010 semester had this to say:
I really loved your course and must say this was one of the life transforming episodes of my entire student career. As a parting note, I shall always be grateful to you.
Tresser also taught “Tools and Techniques for Creative Leaders” for the Institute of Psychology. Tresser has been a theater producer, community activist and consultant in Chicago since 1980. He has led or founded 13 nonprofit enterprises in the arts, community development, and civic engagement.
Download the syllabus from the Spring 2008 version of this class