Understanding Violence

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Course Date: 18 August 2014 to 29 September 2014 (6 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

Violence is among the top three leading causes of injury and death in the US and globally. We will focus on different disciplinary approaches and perspectives to understanding and potentially preventing violence.

Estimated Workload: 3-4 hours/week

Course Instructors

Pamela Scully

Professor Scully is Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Professor of African Studies at Emory University. Her most recent book is Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus: a Ghost Story and a Biography, co-authored with Clifton Crais (Princeton, 2009, 2010). She is finishing a short biography of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. She writes generally on sexual violence, transitional justice and feminist theory. She teaches courses on the history of sexual violence in wartime and post-conflict, genealogies of feminist thought, and gender and transitional justice.  Professor Scully is the Director of Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence. She is also Treasurer and Membership Secretary of the International Federation for Research in Women's History and past editor for American subscriptions for the Women's History Review. She serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Women’s History, The Journal of British Studies, The Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, and Social Dynamics. Professor Scully works closely with the Institute for Developing Nations, a partnership between Emory University and The Carter Center, which focuses on collaborative research regarding issues of poverty and development. 

Deb Houry

Debra Houry, MD, MPH, is Vice-Chair for Research and Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and in the Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education and Department of Environmental Health at the Rollins School of Public Health. She is the Director of the Emory Center for Injury Control and PI on the CDC Injury Control Research Center grant. Dr. Houry has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters on injury prevention and violence. She has been the recipient of several national awards, including the first Linda Saltzman Memorial Intimate Partner Violence Researcher Award from the Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma and the Academy of Women in Academic Emergency Medicine's Researcher Award. She is the President-Elect for the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research and is the President of Emory University Senate.

Course Description

Violence is a leading cause of death, disability and health care use in the United States as well as worldwide. Although significant progress has been made in the last few decades, there remains a great need to further reduce the frequency of violence and its long term effects.  Violence causes approximately 50,000 deaths each year and over 2.5 million injuries in the U.S. each year, with an estimated annual cost of $70 billion. Furthermore, violence does not occur in a vacuum; the consequences are also felt through other medical conditions and health behaviors and individuals, families, and communities affected by violence are often irreparably altered.

Violence is a complex problem and can only be understood and reduced though a multidisciplinary approach.  The course will cover the epidemiology of violence; roots of violence including biological, psychological, and social causes (e.g., economic deprivation, religious factors); specific types of violence; media and the arts portrayal of violence; the business/economic impact of violence; physical and mental consequence; and ways to control and prevent violence in our communities, including criminal justice and public health approaches.  Through these perspectives, the course will deepen our understanding of violence in local, national, and global contexts.  

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of the problem of violence in the U.S. and globally, as well as the long-term effects.

2. Analyze the causes of and associations with violence from a multidisciplinary perspective.

3. Explore different solutions and programs for the prevention of violence.


Week One: Overview of Violence

Week Two: Types of Violence    

Week Three: Biological, Social, and Psychological Contributors of Violence     

Week Four: Consequences of Violence

Week Five: Media Portrayal of Violence    

Week Six: Controlling Violence 

Course Workload

3-4 hours/week

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