September 19, 2018

Teaching About the History of Hate, Conflict and Resolution

by Choya Randolph, M.F.A. '18

Stop by the second floor of Blodgett Hall and you’ll see a display of art guaranteed to push your emotional buttons. There’s a painting of what at first glance looks like a tree. But look closer and you’ll see it’s a fist topped by an Afro, symbolizing black empowerment. In another work, faceless people hold out arms tattooed with numbers.

The art was created in the Spring 2018 semester by the students in Hate and Conflict: Art, Media and Political Science, an interdisciplinary course that combines art, media and political science to dissect why people hate. “We want the students to feel things,” said Regina Axelrod, Ph.D., professor of political science, who led the class along with Sarah Eltabib, D.A., lecturer in the General Studies Learning Community. “We want to startle them. You want to change them so they can look at things differently and want to learn more.”

The class has been offered approximately every three years for more than a decade.What first began as an idea from three professors who wanted to integrate the three disciplines quickly developed into an “authentic and very fascinating” course, according to sophomore Sally Lau.

The course explores the origins and manifestations of conflict as well as possibilities for resolution. Students dive into a variety of topics such as the Holocaust, slavery and genocides across the globe. The lessons and projects are not the typical ones that would be expected. Students visited museums to learn about the Holocaust and professors simulated the suffering endured on a slave ship.

“In the class we not only read articles and journal excerpts, but also watched videos and documentaries, analyzed artwork and listened to music,” said Maria Giovanna Jumper, a sophomore. “These forms of mixed media gave me an opportunity to learn in a different way that was a little bit more out of my comfort zone.”

The class — which is assisted by Adelphi professors Cindy Maguire, Ph.D., and Joan L. Schimke, M.F.A. — has three main projects, each embodying one of the three disciplines. Students wrote an essay, did a media project and completed an art project to learn how hate was expressed through these three disciplines and the specifics that led to oppression throughout history.

“I would definitely recommend this course to my fellow students,” said sophomore MacKenzie Banks. “A course of this nature only comes around every so often.”

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