Some of humankind’s greatest breakthroughs arise not from discovering something new but from viewing a known thing in a new way.
Our primitive ancestors knew about fire, for example. They had seen its destructive power and some of them had felt its cruel flame.
Which long-forgotten cave genius dined on the medium-well carcass of an animal caught in a forest fire and conceived the audacious plan to control such terrible power?
North Island College’s Institute of War and Peace is not on the order of taming fire, but the principle is the same.
Instead of merely doing the expected by teaching English, history and philosophy, instructors Anne Cumming, Dan Hinman-Smith and Jeff Lawrence, respectively, have linked their specialties.
The trio will offer three thematically linked second-year university transfer courses in May and June.
English 230 will focus on war narratives from bygone times. History 220 will examine ancient Greece, the First World War, Second World War and the Vietnam War. Philosophy 230 will review a variety of recent conflicts.
As Cumming says, execution “takes an enormous amount of co-ordination and planning….”
According to the plan, students can register for one, two or three of the six-week courses. Each course features two individual classes per week, but students and instructors from all three courses will meet weekly.
Guest speakers and films are important tools and extracurricular activities such as a curated art show and a dance performance will increase understanding of the subject matter.
It is brutal, horrifying and depressing subject matter. Warfare has been waged throughout human history and it continues today as if we have learned nothing from our many mistakes.
In the words of George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Perhaps NIC students can discover how to learn from humankind’s many mistakes.