How should universities respond as more of their students come armed with the sword of internet conspiracy theories and the shield of ‘alternative facts’?
For Gwyneth Hughes of University College London’s Institute of Education, part of the response to conspiracy theories and alternative facts should involve universities exposing undergraduates to more research at an earlier point in their studies. That might seem obvious—indeed, most undergraduates already do some kind of final-year project dissertation. But they often regard their research project as the last “hurdle”, Hughes says.
Instead, she argues, research needs to be integrated across an undergraduate curriculum and not just shoehorned in at the end. Research could include carrying out small projects; training in skills, such as writing for academic audiences; carrying out literature reviews; presenting conference papers; and practising quantitative and analytic methods.