OSHR 1177 - Fake News, Alternative Facts and the First Amendment

  • Noncredit

This course is offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Colorado State University. You must be a member of Osher to enroll in this course.

Are fake news and alternative facts new phenomenons? How has the growth of social media and the 24-7 news cycle affected the protections of free press and free speech under the First Amendment and the common law protections of libel and slander? What, if any, burdens or tensions do these new circumstances place upon these freedoms? What can the individual citizen do to discern fake news or alternative facts?

This course will review the philosophic foundations of the First Amendment and examine past and current examples of assaults upon the First Amendment from the political left and right, and upon academic freedom in our universities. It will consider the impact of think tanks, as idea factories, upon the marketplace of ideas and whether the Congress, in considering legislation to regulate social media, may be about to encroach upon traditional press and speech protections of the First Amendment.

Noncredit courses do not produce academic credit nor appear on a Colorado State University academic transcript.


Richard Alper

Richard Alper, an attorney, has studied, taught and practiced constitutional law in the context of serving in county and state government and taught conflict resolution at the University of Wyoming, the University of Northern Colorado, and The Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business.

Robert Lawrence


Professor Robert Lawrence has served in the U.S. Air Force and worked at think tanks such as the Hudson Institute and Stanford Research Institute. He has taught political science at the University of Kansas, Texas Tech University, University of Arizona, CU, and CSU, where he is currently a professor emeritus.