Recap of Fall Civility Week

Theme of the Week: Imagine Social Media Conscience

Civility Week Community Agreement

We come together during Civility Week to enhance our understanding of, and learn more about, the meaning and importance of civility. We commit to honest, brave, respectful conversation, where participants are encouraged to speak openly, listen actively, embrace curiosity, and gather wisdom.

Together, we will strive to:
Learn and grow
Listen and understand
Recognize that experiences are perceived
Acknowledge where power and privilege exist; and
Provide space for all voices to share.

Civility Statement

Brookdale Community College is committed to freedom of expression while maintaining a civil and ethical learning environment. We believe that a community composed of people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and abilities promotes learning and engagement. We are responsible for treating one another with respect and kindness regardless of our differences.”

social media buttons coming out of the brain

Imagine Social Media Conscience


Fall 2022 Civility Week Program

Michele McBride, 90.5 the night, talks with Dr. Ave Latte discussing Brookdale’s Civility Week

Civility Week, October 17-21, 2022

Social media allow us to interact with others, becoming part of global communities in ways previously unknown in history. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok are shaping collective perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world. Social media creators and users often establish and maintain positive connections through these platforms. Such affiliations and affirmations can contribute to a sense of community and a greater common good.

However, there are increasing concerns regarding the practices of social media platforms and their effects. Manipulative algorithms and anonymous bots present the information we see in the form of user-specific clickbait intended to influence users’ actions. User data is collected and sold, and users are carefully guided by predictive analytics to increase engagement and profit. Furthermore, social media frequently disseminate misinformation, hate speech, and violent political ideas which enter the mainstream, threatening civility and democracy.

In light of this complex situation, there are urgent calls for regulation for platform transparency and the right to privacy, without compromising free speech. In this regard, forms of civil discourse and rational deliberation, in national and global contexts, allow for the critique of the harmful societal effects associated with social media. Moreover, civility—in behavior, action, and policy—provides the foundations for the reconstruction of the values of democracy in this emergent landscape of social interaction here and around the world.

Brookdale Community College is dedicating a week to consider issues relating to civility including topics in, but not limited to, the following contexts: the classroom, business, politics, international affairs, history, art and culture, personal relationships, online spaces, and stranger-to-stranger interactions.

Join the conversation and seek responses to the following questions that will be discussed during Civility Week.

How can we, as members of a democracy in the broadest sense, direct our social media conscience and our collective future?

What are the imperatives for a social media conscience that would sustain civil discourses and actions?

What are the roles of governments, businesses, civil society, and global organizations in the future of a civil and ethical social media landscape?

Recap of Fall Events

A History of Civility
Presented by Dr. David Bassano, Professor, History

It may come as a surprise that the world is more civil than it once was. Headlines would seem to indicate that society is becoming less tolerable all the time, but that is mainly the effect of the constant access to information in our time; had there been an internet in medieval Europe, the news feeds would have been filled with incredible abuse and suffering. That the world is a safer, more civil place than it once was, is statistically demonstrable; but the historical reasons behind the change are difficult to ascertain. Why has violence declined? Why is child abuse less tolerated than in earlier centuries? Why are people more understanding and accepting of cultural differences? These are the questions this lecture will address, and the answers may surprise you…


Ukraine vs. Russia: Social Media as Wartime Propaganda
Presented by: Dr. George Reklaitis, Professor, History
In case you missed it, LINK TO PRESENTATION

Dr. George Reklaitis is Professor of History at Brookdale, and has been teaching here as a full-time faculty member since 2004. He earned his Ph.D. at Northeastern University, completing his dissertation on the Soviet Union during World War II. He continues to teach, research, publish and present the history of the Soviet Union, World War II, The Holocaust, and the Cold War.

Russia’s use of social media to advance its agenda both internationally and domestically has been widely addressed, particularly surrounding the 2016 US Presidential election. Immediately before and during its invasion of Ukraine, Russian social media outlets, official and otherwise, have attempted to push a particular narrative of the cause and nature of the conflict. Ukraine and its western allies have pushed back. This program will investigate the way social media has reported the war in Ukraine and the way it has shaped public perceptions of it.
Dr. Reklaitis will accept questions at the conclusion of his presentation.

Finding Balance: Getting to a place where social media works best for you and your mental health
Panelists:  Belinda Asamoah (student), Joie Bauman (student) Gina Giannattasio (Associate High Schools and Strategic Partnerships), Patrick Zavorskas (Hourly Wellness Center Team Member), Gina Ziegler (Hourly Social Media Administrator), Ken Pecoraro (LCSW, LCADC, CCS, CPC Behavioral Healthcare) and moderated by Dinneen Jackson (Director Wellness Center)

While many of us enjoy staying connected on social media, excessive use can fuel feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and FOMO. A panel consisting of Wellness Center team members will discuss ways to modify your social media habits to find a healthy balance and maintain your mental health.

Social Media Around the World
Presented by: The International Education Center, International Student Association

In this panel presentation we will hear from international students and learn how social media is experienced in different countries.
Light refreshments will be provided.

PURPLE: America, We Need To Talk
A short film and community conversation uncovering our humanity beneath our national conflict.

PURPLE tells the story of everyday Americans with opposing viewpoints addressing their differences head-on and discovering some of the concerns and humanity that lie behind each other’s positions. Designed to build greater empathy and recognition in the face of deepening U.S. divides, PURPLE models a rare conversation that uplifts and inspires even while going toward the heat of passionate political differences. Purple, the film, is 25 minutes long. We will open and close the workshop experience with our own community conversation following the film’s discussion guide.

The Internet Was Not Designed for Security and Privacy
Presented by: Michael Qaissaunee, Professor, Engineering & Technology

In this session, presenters will provide a brief overview of the origins of the Internet and the inherent lack of security and privacy. Unfortunately, the design decisions from the Internet’s founding have created an environment where anonymity is king, and security and privacy are afterthoughts. After detailing the weaknesses, participants will be provided with strategies to protect themselves and identify and avoid bad actors.

Creating Connections with the Psychology and Human Services Club
Presented by: The Brookdale Psychology and Human Services Club

Participants will be encouraged to connect with others in attendance through simple questions, prompts, and discussion. There will be a short debrief afterward to discuss how they can better practice empathy both on and off campus.

Radio for Hate, Radio for Peace
Presented by: Sara Brown, Director, Center of Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education
In case you missed it, LINK TO PRESENTATION

This talk will address the role and impact of radio before, during, and after the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. In our section on Radio for Hate, we will examine how radio became the primary platform for mass communications before and during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. In our section on Radio for Peace, we will then look at how the radio was harnessed to promote unity and reconciliation within Rwanda and beyond.

Social Movement Technologies: Instagram & TikTok
Presented by: Angela Kariotis, Director, Diversity and Inclusion, GACR

How are online organizers using Instagram & TikTok to build power online?

The Social Dilemma A film about the trappings of Social Media
Presented by: Stephen Fowler, Teaching, Learning & Technology, Instructional Designer
William Ryan, Professor, Languages and ESL
Ave Latte, Professor, Education

Join us for a viewing on social media, how it shapes our reality, informs our social identity, and influences our perceptions of others.

Media as Medium
Presented by: Elisa Elorza, Professor, Art
Trent Welcome, Professor, Graphic Design
Registration Required
Registration Link
Location: Gallery, CVA

Social media is unavoidable in 2022. We are all in different social media spaces every day. For some of us it’s texting or Zoom, while others use Snapchat or Instagram. Social media has shaped culture from its inception, but in recent years it has become increasingly tempestuous in often dangerous ways. Just like abstaining from voting is an affirmation of the status quo, disengaging from social media cultures signals an
acceptance of its voices and where it is today.

For our civility week project, we will create space for collaborations that imagine social media space for what it could be, not what it has become. Our workshop will invite participants to help us generate a list of the most damaging aspects of social media. Using lectures, case studies, readings, and discussion, we will then learn about the ideas, hopes and questions cultural figures had about digital design in the early days of the internet. Will we use that to address the social media issues we identified with for a renewed optimism that civic and civil space if we create them together.

The conversations and ideas generated in the workshop will become the basis for a gallery exhibition in Spring 2023. Students will use our Civility Week workshop as a starting point to create models that represent their ideal vision for social media space. Building on the traditional ideas of space that designers are taught, we will imagine that the space of social media can be approached as a medium, a material with an interiority and exteriority. We are curious to see if social media spaces that have created divisive and polarizing conditions can be creatively engaged by us, together, to imagine more equitable, innovative, hopeful, and loving social possibilities that we want our future
generations to inherit.

We invite you to join our discussion in this upcoming Fall 2022 Civility Week and the collectively conceived gallery show at the Center for Visual Arts, Spring 2023 that will take your contributions and unfold them into a wonderful gallery experience to ponder the possibilities.

Effect of Social Media on Mental Health
Presented by: Dr. Rajkumari Wesley, Professor of Psychology & Faculty Coordinator, The Global Citizenship Distinction Program
Belinda Asamoah, International Student
Sophia Jimenez, Student
Mary Romanowski, Student
In case you missed it, LINK TO PRESENTATION

Social media is a technology with a lot of wonderful benefits. It allows people to share and connect, get news and information, and even meet new people. But there can be a downside too, especially for college-aged young adults who have grown up in a world of screens. Social media use has been linked to depression, anxiety and loneliness. Recent studies suggest people who frequently use social media feel more depressed and less happy with life than those who spend more time on non-screen-related activities. In this presentation by Global Citizenship Distinction, learn how social media can negatively impact your mental health, and how you—or someone you know—can use it in a healthier way.

The Modotti Family: Immigrant Transnationalism before Social Media
Presented by: Ashley Zampogna-Krug, History
In case you missed it, LINK TO PRESENTATION

Social media makes it easy to create spaces and maintain connections with family, friends, and organizations across international boundaries. We might wonder, how did people do this before social media? What did global networking and space-making look like before social media? This presentation will reveal how the Modotti family, despite rarely residing together in one country, maintained a common identity based on shared spaces crafted from correspondence and international political involvement between the 1920s and 1940s. Amid immigration restrictions and heightened surveillance, and well before social media, the Modottis exemplify how la famiglia transcended boundaries.

Civility Recognized Events

Global Citizenship Project: The Global Read, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.

Brookdale Community College’s Civility Research Guide

The Civility Research Guide provides links to books, articles, websites, videos, and databases related to civility. It is accessible here:

Civility Week is Sponsored by the Brookdale Foundation