VILLANOVA, Pa. – Jason Steinhauer, director of Villanova University’s Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest, has been invited by the U.S. Department of State to discuss history and history communication with government officials, policymakers, scholars and students during a two-week visit to Lithuania, April 29-May 11. Steinhauer will be traveling on behalf of the Department of State Bureau of International Information Programs.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to spread the word about history communication, what it is, its importance and to have a productive dialogue with these key leaders in Europe,” said Steinhauer. “I’m very excited to represent Villanova and the Lepage Center in accepting this wonderful invitation.”
Recently, there have been reports of a Russian misinformation campaign to discredit Lithuania and other Baltic nations’ right to exist. As part of his lectures, Steinhauer will address this rise of fake news and ‘fake history’.
In early April, it was announced that a Center will be built in Finland later in 2017 to combat disinformation and fake news. Lithuania and the United States were two of nine countries to sign a pledge to establish this ‘hybrid threat’ center in Helsinki, Finland.
“What Lithuania is experiencing right now is not so dissimilar to what the United States experienced during the 2016 presidential election,” Steinhauer said. “The challenge is how to combat this notion of fake history and how to instill media and historical literacy in the population at large, and to separate sound scholarship from subversive propaganda.”
The Bureau of International Information Programs supports people-to-people conversations with foreign publics on U.S. policy priorities. The bureau’s top goal is to connect people with policy through dialogue that is relatable and understandable.
This is not the first time Villanova has had educational involvement with the U.S. Department of State. In 2016, three Villanova students served as diplomats during a campus visit by representatives of the State Department and a delegation from Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Department of History faculty members Hibba Abugideiri, Ph.D. and Marc Gallicchio, Ph.D. have given presentations and lectures on behalf of the State Department.
The Lepage Center is a multifaceted resource for students, teachers, industry and elected officials that draw upon the past to impart lessons for the modern world. The Center is made possible through the generosity of Albert Lepage ’69 CLAS, retired co-chairman of Lepage Bakeries Inc. A history major at Villanova, Mr. Lepage made a $10 million commitment for support of History to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2016. It was the largest gift ever made to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.