This “ain’t gonna study war no more” stuff has gone too far.
Down by the Mississippi Riverside, at the University of Minnesota, there is little study of war as a phenomenon in human history. Oh, you can find courses on individual wars, but war in general, an activity that has all but dominated our history, pretty much remains unstudied.
The Social Work Department does offer Introduction to Peace Studies (SW 1501), which includes study of the causes of war and alternative means of resolving conflict, but the course is not listed in the 2011 fall semester class schedule. And there is an Anthropology Department course, Warfare and Human Evolution (ANTH 4009W), offered in the fall of even-numbered years. The History Department offers a topics course, Visions of the Past: Thematic Approaches to Understanding History (HIST 3000W), whose topics vary depending on which faculty are teaching it, but when two particular faculty teach it, it’s on The History of War. Not this fall though. And the Military Science Department (ROTC) has a course on Military History (MIL 3970) that covers all U.S. wars, military tactics, and war’s impact on society.
But that’s it. The Sociology Department has a course called Killing, but its description indicates it’s about individual killing, not killing in groups, as in war. Religious Studies? Some discussion of “holy war” is included in the catalog description of Religious Violence in the Early Roman Empire: Jews, Christians, and Pagans (RELS 3077), but war as a phenomenon does not seem to be the focus of the course. Political Science? Not much, although its International Conflict and Security (POL 4885W) course does include “theories of the sources of militarized conflict.” Psychology? Nope. Philosophy? Ditto.
No wonder we can’t end the insanity of war. Even a higher education institution with as wide a range of courses as the University of Minnesota offers few that deal with this seemingly ever-present human activity.
People 62 years old or older can audit U of M courses for free, if the course is one that is auditable. Otherwise, courses can be taken for credit at $10 a credit. The Military History course offered by ROTC seems particularly enticing.
Why take a ROTC course? Well, one justification for ROTC being on college campuses is that the college atmosphere provides a liberalizing effect on our future military leaders. Where better to provide that liberalizing effect than right in the ROTC classes themselves? Plus, to the extent the instructor would provide “the military perspective,” it might be educational for us as well. A fellow I know who wrote a book on the causes of war says that sitting in on ROTC classes was one of the most valuable experiences for his peace work.
Anyhow, for those interested, the class meets 9:05 to 9:55 a.m., M, W, F, at Armory 103. As part of the senior citizen program, you can’t register until the second day of the semester. So just show up on the first day of class (Wed., Sept. 7), see if there are openings (there are 14 openings in the class of 20 as of the time of this posting), and begin what might turn out to be an interesting semester of discussion.