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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Hard Times in the Big Easy

Instructor(s): Mary Correa, Management & Business

Whether natural or man-made, disasters challenge us to rethink and often transcend the assumptions about how humans respond individually and collectively to such events. In this seminar, students will examine the devastating impact of the 2005 hurricanes on the people, places and social institutions of New Orleans. Our study of the devastation wrought by Katrina will draw on research and case studies of other disasters, such as the Coconut Grove Fire of 1942 and the Buffalo Creek flood of 1972. These cases have contributed to an understanding of how to deal with the psychological impacts and social disruption of a major disaster and will inform our exploration of Katrina's impact on New Orleans. As in the case of the Buffalo Creek flood, the question arises as to how much of Katrina's devastation was due to the forces of nature and how much is a product of human choices and technologies both prior to and after the event? Following this line of inquiry, we will examine the history, culture and politics of the city of New Orleans, its shifting role as a center of commerce, and its racial relations. Finally, we will take up the looming question of whether or not, or in what form, the city should be rebuilt.

Course Offered