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Wallace Smedley
Wallace Smedley's picture
Free course "Understanding Violence" Review

I took the online course offered by Emory University through Coursera titled Understanding Violence and while I do not know if anyone here also took the course, I wanted to give a short review of it.

The general approach of the course was to look at Violence as a contagious disease, which was a new approach for me and I saw many potential benefits to the approach. There are probably a few drawbacks as well, but as it was a new approach to me, it opened up many interesting considerations.

I did not think the course was perfect. For instance, there was a lecture on sexual violence where the instructor mentioned teaching women to defend themselves, but then brushed the idea off with a casual, “but that becomes victim blaming”. I disagree with that evaluation and really didn’t appreciate the casual brush off, which felt like it was not worth discussing.

The same brush off was used when a statistic was shown for deaths from firearms in the U.S. which was accurate but included incidents such as when the bad guy breaks into the home of a gun owner and gets killed for it, or when the police shoot the bad guys. These numbers skew the facts, and the notion of gun ownership was again brushed off with a comment to the effect of “until the U.S. decides to do something about guns, these numbers will remain high” or some such. The discussion of Religious violence was kept completely politically correct and as such fell far short of what could have been an honest discussion on a very important subject.

In all, I learned some from the course, and do not feel that I wasted my time. I do not yet know if I passed the test at this time because grading is still underway. I just thought that I would share my review for anyone interested as the course will probably be repeated (Coursera tends to repeat courses every few months…yes I take their courses frequently…)