Linfield students explore legacies of war in two-year immersion program

Linfield CollegeAs the U.S. winds down the most protracted war in its history, Linfield College has initiated a program to look at the causes, consequences and legacies of war. In its first year, the Legacies of War program featured classes, guest speakers, films, panel discussions and study abroad programs.

“Wars have constituted perhaps the most defining, important and tragic events in human history,” says Patrick Cottrell, a Linfield political science professor whose father and uncle are Vietnam vets. “This year we are seeking out the voices of those who have fought, protested or otherwise been affected by war.”

Courses have included current debates in U.S. foreign policy, literature and war, and protest and revolution, among other subjects. Lectures, films and debates have examined topics such as the causes of terrorism, dangerous trends in modern warfare, and friendship across enemy lines. A particularly moving panel discussion brought together Vietnam veterans and conscientious objectors, and a spring choral concert focused on the many faces of war.

In a course taught by mass communication Professor Susan Sivek and adjunct art Professor Cris Moss, students created portraits of veterans. “Portraits: Legacies of War” opened in May at Linfield with a reception attended by vets, and will be on permanent display at the local Veterans Services office.

This year’s program also included a study abroad course, taught by Cottrell and English Professor David Sumner. Students met one-on-one with soldiers and veterans to explore feelings of patriotism and disillusionment, and they traveled to the war-torn countries of Vietnam and Cambodia where they visited the Killing Fields and met military veterans from the other side of the Vietnam War.

Linfield’s unique Legacies of War program is sponsored by the Program for Liberal Arts and Civic Engagement (PLACE), an inquiry-based program that allows students and faculty to explore a common theme, one that crosses disciplines and integrates experiential learning both in and out of the classroom. The program was piloted under the direction of political science Professor Patrick Cottrell.

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