I’ve mentioned some of the elective classes that mass comm majors (and others) can take through the School of Mass Communication. We’ve got courses in Sports and the Media and Strategic Event Planning and Management, but there are others you might not know about, courses that might interest you, no matter what your major is.
As part of the freshman experience, Prof. Michael Perlstein is teaching an interdisciplinary course called “Innocence Behind Bars,” CMMN X193. This course, which features a service learning component, “provides an introduction to the American criminal justice system and some of the ways in which it can – and does – go wrong,” according to the syllabus.
The course will make use of local experts and community partners, including:
- Orleans Public Defenders
- Innocence Project New Orleans
- Resurrection After Exoneration
Some of the classes have very interesting subjects, including:
- An overview of modern forensic science, especially the use of DNA evidence
- False confessions, coercion, snitches
- The media: watchdog or lapdog? How the media cover criminal courts, appeals and wrongful conviction cases
Prof. Perlstein commented, “The centerpiece of this course is the service learning requirement. The topic of wrongful convictions is compelling on paper, but confronting the problem in the real world can be downright harrowing and, hopefully for the students, transformative. To gain a flesh-and-blood appreciation of the issue, students will team up with community organizations to work on court cases, teach life skills to recent exonorees and publicize the plight of the innocent. Even as first-semester freshmen, the students will find themselves making a profound difference in people’s lives.”
If you’re a fan of CSI or Law & Order, a budding crime reporter or just intrigued by the possibility of a class that can make a real difference, contact Prof. Perlstein (firstname.lastname@example.org). Seats are still available.