Violence: A Multidisciplinary Inquiry Course Syllabus


Violence- a Multidisciplinary Inquiry

Emory University Course
230 PAIS: 4:15-7:15pm
Spring 2013

View course syllabus

Course Conveners

Course Description

Emory is home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Injury Control Research Center- only 1 of 11 in the nation.  In addition, the National Safety Council and World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Community Safety designated Emory a “Safe Community”- making it the second university in the nation and the only community in Georgia with this honor.  Emory has over 40 faculty currently involved in teaching or scholarship in violence from disciplines ranging from film studies to religion to medicine.  Given the multidisciplinary nature of violence, a multidisciplinary course is needed at Emory to allow for intellectual inquiry among undergraduate students, graduate students, professional students, and faculty to better understand and subsequently decrease this epidemic.

Violence is a leading cause of death, disability and health care use in the United States as well as worldwide. Although significant progress has been made in the last few decades, there remains a great need to further reduce the frequency of violence and its sequelae.  Violence causes approximately 50,000 deaths each year and over 2.5 million injuries in the US each year, with an estimated annual cost of $70 billion (CDC, 2007). Furthermore, violence does not occur in a vacuum; the consequences are also felt through other medical conditions and health behaviors and individuals, families, and communities affected by violence are often irreparably altered.

In this course undergraduate, graduate, and professional students will come together to investigate various aspects of the violence epidemic.  Violence is a complex problem and can only be understood and reduced though a multidisciplinary approach.  The course will cover the epidemiology of violence; roots of violence including biological, psychological, and social causes (e.g., economic deprivation, religious factors); specific types of violence; media and the arts portrayal of violence; the business/economic impact of violence; physical and mental consequence; and ways to control and prevent violence in our communities, including criminal justice and public health approaches.

We will bring together faculty and students from different disciplines and different units of the University—with both graduate and undergraduate students eligible and encouraged to participate. Participating units include Emory College and Laney Graduate School—including the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Law School; Medical School; Nursing School; School of Public Health, and School of Theology.  Through these perspectives, the course will demonstrate the ways in which multi-disciplinary scholarship can deepen our understanding of the complexities of violence in local, national, and global contexts.  The students will write periodic critical reflections using social media to allow a larger community to read about these discussions and topics.  Our speakers are well known experts in these areas and have worked to develop a cohesive and comprehensive curriculum.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Practice in critical writing and thinking, discussion, and group work presentation.
  2. Demonstrate preliminary knowledge of the history and present of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
  3. Engage with interdisciplinary methods and practices while participating in the class and then apply these methods and practices in assignments and group work.

Class Particulars

We expect you to keep up with the reading every day and to keep up-to-date notes (see journal)

If you have a documented disability please make sure you have a letter from the office of disability services, and let us know the first day of class.

Class participation (10 points)

Attendance is mandatory. This course has a Blackboard web page. The site contains information from this syllabus. We will post announcements and other information when necessary. We expect you to read the Blackboard page regularly to keep up with discussion assignments and other issues.  We take class attendance very seriously.  You can miss two classes without penalty, after that you will lose participation points. You HAVE to be on time; otherwise you will be marked absent. Once the door is closed do not come in unless you have a very good excuse.

Every student has to participate verbally in class on the basis of informed reading. If you are shy please come and talk to us. We are keen for everyone to feel comfortable. One way to make yourself more comfortable is to write down thoughts and ideas before coming to class, that way you have something in front of you.

You have to come to class with reading notes on each day’s assigned reading. Keep them in your journal. If you have not done the reading and notes are not in your journal do not attend class.

Journal/Notebook (30 points)

Each student will keep a journal of responses and notes on readings and lectures. This journal should ONLY be for this class. Notes must be legible. If we struggle to read them, then we lower the grade.  Put all notes on lectures and reading into one place for each class period. Ie it should read like a chronicle of work done in the class.

  • Notebooks must be brought to class each class period.
  • Notes should include notes on readings; notes on lectures, and a reflection each week on that week’s activities and readings (about a page long).
  • Notes on readings must be in the journal in class on the day of discussion. These notes should include quotes you find interesting, with page numbers to the relevant readings, and a short paragraph summarizing the overall point of the article.
  • We will collect notebooks throughout the semester. Notebooks will be graded each time they are collected and must be up to date.

Please  always bring (hard or virtual) copies of the articles we are discussing in class.

Word Press Entries (6 points each: 30 points total)

Five times during the semester you will be asked to write a blog entry in response to the assigned readings on our wordpress blog. Moya Bailey, skilled digital humanities scholar, will be coming to give us a tutorial on wordpress.  You must post your blog entry by 9pm Saturday night so that everyone in the class has time to read it before our class on Monday afternoon. For undergraduates, these posts should be at least 300-500 words and for graduate students these should be at least 500-700 words.

Interview with a survivor of violence (30 points).

See the full description of this assignment under Assignments on blackboard.

1250 words, due last day of class.

Other issues:

Should you need assistance with writing, you may want to use the Writing Center. For more in this area, please call the Writing Center at 404.727.6451, or visit them at Room 212 Callaway Center North.

If you are a student with a disability, you may receive extra assistance from the Office of Disability Student Services located at 110 Administration Building, their phone number is 404.727.9877. Please also contact Pamela Scully or Deb Houry if you have any type of disability.

Please read and abide by the Emory University honor code.

Please make sure all cellular phones and pagers are turned off throughout our entire class session. If it becomes an annoyance, you will lose participation points.

We reserve the right to make changes in this schedule if the need arises. Necessary changes will be announced and posted on blackboard.

Course Layout:

SessionConveneLecturersTitle/ThemeKey Points
Intro to Course: The Nature, Extent, and Trends in Violence
1 Jan 28DHDeb Houry (SOM, SPH) 415p Clifton Crais (EC) 545pIntroduction to Class Overview of Violence History of Violence
  • Rates in the US and worldwide
  • Defining and measuring violence
  • Types of violence
  • Historical context of violence
Causes of Violence
2 Feb 4PSPatricia Brennan (EC)  415p Kerry Ressler (SOM) 545pIs there a biological predisposition for violence?
  • Biological-psychological causes
  • Biomarkers that predict response to violence
3 Feb 11DHRobert Agnew (EC) 415p Claire Sterk (SPH) 6pSocial causes
  • What features of social environment increase likelihood for violence in individuals?
  • Strain theory
  • Linkage with drug use
4 Feb 18DHSalman Rushdie 415p Liz Bounds (CANDLER) 545p Gordon Newby (EC)Religion and violence
  • Religious perspectives and issues around violence to include Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity
  • Structural violence
  • Ethnography of violence
Consequences of Violence
5 Feb 25PSRobyn Fivush (EC) 415p Barbara Rothbaum (SOM) 515p Abigail Hankin (SOM, SPH, SON) 615pEffects on victims
  • Mental health sequelae in adults
  • Physical injuries in adults
  • Psychological and physical consequences of experiencing childhood trauma.
6 Mar 4DHPhaedra CorsoThe cost to society
  • Economic implications
Types of Violence- a Detailed Look at Selected Categories
7 Mar 18DHKirsten Widner (LAW) 415p Nadine Kaslow (SOM) 545p  Specific types of violence Towards others Towards self
  • Violence towards domestic animals
  • Suicide
8 Mar 25DHUrsula Kelly (SON) 415p Rob Stephenson (SPH) 515p Claire Sterk (SPH 615pSpecific types of violence Towards other people
  • Immigrants
  • Military sexual violence
  • Same sex partner violence
  • Prostitutes
9 Apr 1PSPamela Scully (EC) 415p Kathryn Yount (SPH) 545p Kristin Vanderende (SPH)Global perspective
  • Sexual violence in post-conflict settings
  • Violence against women in international settings
Media Portrayals of Violence
10 Apr 8DHMatthew Bernstein (EC) 415p Karla Oeler (EC) Rebecca Palpant 6pViolence and film News reporting
  • How violence is represented in films in terms of character and narrative
  • How does the formal stylization of screen violence desensitize, or, alternatively, shock viewers
  • How violence is reported in the news- does it desensitize us?  What gets reported?
Controlling Violence
11 Apr 15PSKay Levine (LAW) 415p Pamela Scully (EC) 545pLegal considerations
  • Criminal justice response to violence
  • International human rights law
12 Apr 22PSDean Dabney 415p Sarah Vitorino 545pRehabilitation and prevention
  • Differences in prison and other rehabilitation options including court mandated therapy
13 Apr 29PSHoward Spivak  Success stories
  • Boston example- understanding the problem and multidisciplinary solution
  • Personal stories from survivors

Participating Emory Faculty:

  • Robert Agnew- Emory College- Sociology
  • Matthew Bernstein- Emory College- Film Studies
  • Elizabeth Bounds- Candler School of Theology
  • Patricia Brennan- Emory College- Psychology
  • Clifton Crais- Emory College- History
  • Abigail Hankin- School of Medicine- Emergency Medicine; Rollins School of Public Health- BSHE; School of Nursing
  • Deb Houry- School of Medicine- Emergency Medicine; Rollins School of Public Health- BSHE, EOH
  • Nadine Kaslow- School of Medicine- Psychiatry
  • Ursula Kelly- School of Nursing
  • Kay Levine- Law School
  • Karla Oeler- Emory College- Film Studies
  • Gordon Newby- Emory College- Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian Studies
  • Kerry Ressler- School of Medicine- Psychiatry
  • Barbara Rothbaum- School of Medicine- Psychiatry
  • Pamela Scully- Emory College- Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Rob Stephenson- Rollins School of Public Health- GH, Epi
  • Claire Sterk- Rollins School of Public Health- BSHE
  • Kristin Vanderende- School of Public Health- GH
  • Kirsten Widner- Law School
  • Kathryn Yount- School of Public Health- BSHE, GH; Emory College- Sociology
  • Outside speakers:
  • Phaedra Corso- UGA- Public Health- Health Policy and Management
  • Dean Dabney- Georgia State University
  • Rebecca Palpant- Assistant Director, The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, Carter Center
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Howard Spivak- CDC Division of Violence Prevention director and book author “Murder is No Accident”
  • Sarah Vitorino