Populism and Conspiracy Theories of the Left and Right in US Politics

Series Description: Conspiracy theories – from 9/11 Truth to QAnon, from Sandy Hook “False Flag Ops” theories to “Plandemic” – are embedded in contemporary American politics. On first glance, it seems that many of these political conspiracy theories have come from the right side of the ideological spectrum, but conspiracy thinking isn’t about liberal or conservative; it’s about populism. This course will examine the individual, cultural, and environmental causes of conspiracy theory belief, and the threat that widespread belief in conspiracy theories presents to democracy in the United States and the world.

Series Information: Three week series, beginning on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 10:00-11:40 a.m. This is a live-streamed, online program. Registrants will receive information by email to access the program. The actual Join URL will be sent out to registrants two business days prior to the session. If you have not received it by then, please contact the Selim Center (selimcenter@stthomas.edu) immediately.

Series Educator: Dr. Claire Haeg is Professor of Political Science at the College of St Benedict and St John’s University. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Sydney in Australia, her master’s in Library Science at the University of Hawaii, and her Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma. She teaches courses on Congress, Political Parties and Elections, Gender and Politics, and Comparative Healthcare Systems. Her current research examines the rise of populist movements in advanced industrial democracies, and she is also active in the scholarship of pedagogy in political science.

Fee for the series: $45.00 per person

To register on-line with a credit card on our secure page, click on this linkhttps://secure.touchnet.com/C20237_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=15&SINGLESTORE=true   

To register by check or cash, or to redeem a voucher, please complete this registration form and mail back to the address on the form. Please note that no discounts can be applied to paper registrations and please allow 10 business days for postal mail to reach the Center's office. Summer Session June 2021 Registration Form

Series Syllabus:

DateSession Description
June 9

Conspiracy thinking from False Flag Ops to “Plandemic”

Conspiracy theories: what is a conspiracy theory and what makes them political? How have conspiracy theories shaped US political history? Which factors might cause people to believe in conspiracy theories? How does the pandemic contribute to conspiracist thinking?

June 16 

Conspiracy thinking from “9/11 Truth”  to QAnon

What is populism and what explains the rise of populism in the US and around the world? How does populism relate to a belief in conspiracy theories? What is the impact of social media on the development and spread of conspiracy theories? 

June 23

The United States of Distrust?

What explains the erosion of social capital in the United States and other advanced industrial democracies? How is skepticism and lack of social trust linked to the rise of conspiracy theories and political misinformation and the subsequent decline of democracy? How can we address this problem?  We take a deep dive into election misinformation.