Spring 2011: Methland


This course is the first of its kind. The idea behind it is that faculty and students from all units in a university should come together as a single entity to learn about and address an issue of common concern. This practice not only creates intellectual community but enacts a sense of common purpose across the diverse communities that convene under the Emory banner.

The book Methland addresses the impact of the “meth epidemic” on the people living in a small town, Oelwein, Iowa. This narrative also serves as the vehicle for a much broader and deeper critique of the complex social, political, and economic dynamics at work. In the process of exploring the impact of methamphetamine on the people of Oelwein, Reding presents a wide ranging critique of the interaction of law, politics, and business in the evolving global economy of the past quarter century.

Reding reveals how the devastating meth crisis in an Iowa farm town also is: the story of the emergence of an agricultural economy dominated by global corporations whose growth has destroyed a vibrant rural culture based upon the family farm as the unit of production; the story of failures of law enforcement resulting, in part, from lobbying against statutory and regulatory reform by “big pharma” and from lobbying against immigration reform by agribusiness entities; the story of environmental hazards created by both agribusiness and the underground methamphetamine industries; and the story of the loss of faith, hope, and opportunity among the people caught up in these often catastrophic changes.

The Methland narrative begs for an academic inquiry that parallels its scope and analytical creativity. The Methland course will attempt this by bringing together faculty and students from different disciplines and different units of the University—with both graduate and undergraduate students eligible to participate. Participating units include Emory College and Laney Graduate School—including undergraduates and graduates from the Arts, Basic Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences. We will also invite student participants from the Law School; Business School, Medical School; Nursing School; School of Public Health, Oxford College, and School of Theology.

Mr. Nick Reding will meet with the class once during the semester, on February to discuss his work and talk about future ways of addressing the issues that are named in Methland.

Course Conveners

Course Schedule

Course Syllabus