SoC Announces 8th Annual James W. Carey Memorial Lecture: “Fighting the Politics of Illusion”

Anyone who considers themselves a member of “Gen Z,” or those who are concerned with technology, democracy, and the public good, are invited to Edward E. Tywoniak‘s James W. Carey Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, September 26th.

Tywoniak’s talk is titled “Fighting the Politics of Illusion: Technology, Democracy and the Public Good,” and it will address the current political climate and its relationship to technical, cultural, and social change.

Tywoniak’s talk is the 8th in the series named for the pioneering communication studies scholar Carey, and reflects his belief that “problems of communication are linked to problems of community, to problems surrounding the kinds of communities we create.”

The talk will take place at 7 p.m. at Loosemore Auditorium at the Richard M. DeVos Center at GVSU’s downtown campus.

Tywoniak describes his talk as follows:

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 10.55.19 AM.png
Prof. Tywoniak (source)

“Today, the entire globe has been shaken to its core by the recent vortex of political, technical, social and cultural change, the likes of which the world has never seen. The ubiquitously disruptive effects of social-media on everything from political elections to journalism, from race relations to religion, (to name just a few), have taken a toll on all generations from all sides of the political divide. But no generation is seemingly more affected by these changes that the post-millennial cohort known as Generation Z (current college-aged men and women).

Members of Gen Z are often described as “digital natives” – tech savvy and connected from birth – while often self-described as diverse, entrepreneurial, progressive and individualistic. However, members of Gen Z are also described as having less religious identification, greater disappointment and dissatisfaction with politicians and government leaders, and being overwhelmed by the demands and responsibilities placed on them by families, peers, technology and society. They report a blurring of absolutes such as distinctions between home and work, study and entertainment, and public and private, with all this pressure and stress leading to increased reporting of teen depression, drug-addiction and suicide.

Using the ideas of James Carey for context, this presentation looks to do three things: 1) Provide a framework of analysis of current political, social and technical trends that are shaping the political and cultural landscapes both domestically and abroad 2) Offer some predictions and challenges facing Gen Z as they prepare to take over the challenges of providing stewardship for planet Earth over the next three decades and 3) Provide some hopeful words of encouragement in our ongoing quest for justice, fairness, and equality for all citizens of the world.”

Ed Tywoniak is Professor of Communication and Media Studies and Director of the W. M. Keck Digital Studies Lab at Saint Mary’s College of California.

The James W. Carey Memorial Lecture is hosted each year by the Communication Studies Major Program of the School of Communications, and this year features additional support from the Department of Political Science and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

For more information, please contact Dr. Valerie Peterson at