History students research and debunk conspiracy theories
April 12, 2018
Conspiracy Theories in American History (HIS3308E) is a full-year course that explores a number of major conspiracy theories in American history.
On Monday, April 9 students displayed their creative research in the Vitali Student lounge from 11 am- 1 p.m. to students, staff and faculty.
Students worked individually or in pairs. They chose one conspiracy theory and conducted a critical analysis. Students researched who proposed the theory, looked into the surrounding evidence for and against the theory and looked at the political and social implications of the theory.
“This project focuses on letting students’ creativity shine. They present their research in a medium of their choice. Some students created podcasts, others documentaries or teaching units. This project enables students to understand that History is more than essays,” says course instructor, Dr. Alison Meek.
Nina Nouwens (third year) and Kathleen D’Alessandro (fourth year) are History majors who paired up to work on a Holocaust denial teaching unit. They created a lesson plan complete with assignments and quizzes. The unit also teaches students how to determine which sources are credible. Nouwens and D’Allessandro believe this is an important skill kids will need in our society. D’Alessandro hopes this teaching unit will help her get into teacher’s college.
Ashley Valentini researched the various conspiracy theories related to the moon, especially the moon landing hoax conspiracy theory. Valentini presented her research in essay format.
Patrick Folta, a fourth-year History and Criminology student, created a 25-minute documentary to showcase his research on the conspiracy theory about the death of the General Motors EV1. This theory proposes that the electric car was removed from manufacturing by oil companies. Folta used gathered clips and voice-over narration to clarify the reasons why that electric car model failed as well as the current status of electric cars.
Abbie Jaychuk recorded a podcast to document her findings. In the first episode of her podcast named “Conspiracy”, Jaychuk looks at the Hook Elementary school shooting that some claim was a fake shooting. She talks about the idea of crisis actors that were supposedly caught on camera laughing. She debunks this conspiracy theory in 24 minutes of audio. Jaychuk had her laptop playing the episode so visitors could listen. She also provided a transcript.
Other conspiracy theories that were explored by students included the Pearl Harbor attack, a cancer/ big pharma conspiracy, and a US sanctioned 9/11 attack.