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Albarracín Named WIU's 2022 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer

February 15, 2022

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – The Western Illinois University 2022 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Political Science Professor Julia Albarracín (pronounced Who-lee-ah Al-bare-ah-seen) will present "Creating Conspiracy Beliefs: How Our Thoughts are Shaped, based on her 2021 book of the same name (co-authored with D. Albarracín, M.S. Chan and K. Jamieson), live on WIU's YouTube channel at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 23.

According to Albarracín, conspiracy theories spread more widely and faster than ever before. Fear and uncertainty prompt people to believe false narratives of danger and hidden plots, but are not sufficient without considering the role and ideological bias of the media.

"My lecture, like our book of the same name, attempts to make sense of how and why some people respond to their fear of a threat by creating or believing conspiracy stories. It integrates insights from psychology, political science, communication and information sciences to provide a complete overview and theory of how conspiracy beliefs manifest," she explained.

Albarracín joined Western's faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor. She was promoted to professor in 2014. In 2020, she was a recipient of the Community Research + Partnership program award through the Illinois Maya Initiative from the University of Illinois and in 2019, she was a recipient of the Migration and Refugees in Regional and Global Perspectives Initiative award for the project, "Evaluating needs and improving support for Q'anjob'al and other Indigenous Latin American groups in C-U." Albarracín is the executive director of the immigrant services organization, Western Illinois DREAMers, and established the WIU DREAMers Scholarship Fund to provide the opportunity for undocumented students to attend Western.

She is the recipient of several research grants from WIU, the University of Florida, National Science Foundation and the Tinker Foundation; and is a recipient of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Fellowship. Her book "At the Core and in the Margins: The Incorporation of Mexican Immigrants in two Rural Midwestern Communities" was nominated by Casa de Las Americas for its prestigious Latino Studies Award. Albarracín has served as a pre-law advisor at WIU, as well as serving on numerous department, college and University committees, including the Higher Values in Higher Education Committee, President's Executive Institute, Difficult Conversations Steering Committee, International Education Week Committee, Presidential Search Committee, APER and Faculty Senate. Her community work includes serving on the Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission for the City of Macomb, a member of the League of Women Voters of McDonough County, consultant for the creation of Champaign Urbana Public Health District Immigrant Welcome Center and Community Navigator for Immigration Project.

Albarracín was the recipient of the Student Services Act of Kindness Award in 2019 from Western Illinois University; the President's Award for Excellence in Leadership in 2018; the Provost's Award in Excellence in Internationalizing the Campus in 2016, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Internationalizing the Campus; and she was named Dan and Laura Webb Professor of Political Science 2015 - 2018.

Albarracín has authored and published numerous chapters in books and articles in peer-reviewed journals, including that have appeared in AIDS and Behavior, AIDS Care, American Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Dialogos and the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences on a diversity of issues related to Latinx and immigrant communities, including HIV prevention, health coverage, language acquisition and political participation. Her book "Making Immigrants in Modern Argentina" was published in 2020. Throughout her career, Albarracín has presented her research at many scholarly conferences and meetings.
New York University Press will publish her fourth book, entitled "Deferred Action: The Roller Coaster Incorporation of DACA Recipients."

Albarracin earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Florida, a master's degree in International Business from the universities of Belgrano and Ecole des Pont (Paris Tech), and her juris doctorate from the University of La Plata School of Law and Social Sciences.

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