New Combat Veterans Course Breaks Ground, Receives Award

Combat Veterans Course Flyer

How do you teach social work students empathy for what combat veterans have seen, heard, and done when they have never experienced combat? Take them to WAR!

Tina Blaschke-Thompson and Glenn Stutzky (School of Social Work), along with Emily Brozovic, Keesa Johnson, and Christopher Irvin (IT Services) have done just that through their groundbreaking work on Combat Veterans: Embracing the Stories of War, an online 2-credit elective course designed to increase awareness and deepen empathy for the experiences of those who have fought in our nation’s wars.

This course uses a pedagogical approach in which academic material is woven into an engaging narrative that includes immersive experiences through which students become part of the veterans’ stories. Using this Multimedia Online Learning Immersive Experience (M.O.L.I.E.), students experience the military cycle starting with recruitment and enlistment, boot camp, war, and returning home.

There are no lectures, textbooks, peer-reviewed journal articles, or academic papers... students learn through interacting with combat veterans, listening to interviews of their experiences, viewing images from their deployments, watching vetted documentary war footage, and reading material from those telling their stories from the battlefield.

Combat Veterans Course Team
Tina Blaschke-Thompson, Keesa Johnson, Glenn Stutzky, and Emily Brozovic
Not pictured, Christopher Irvin

As this year's recipients of the prestigious Award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work Education sponsored by SAGE Publications and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the instructional team will be recognized this October at the CSWE’s Annual Program Meeting Awards Luncheon and have been asked to present their work at the CSWE conference.

"If you are looking for a course that goes above and beyond your standard university course, then this is it…this course does just about everything it can, short of shipping you out to a war zone..." (Fall 2016 student)

Combat Veterans: Embracing the Stories of War will be offered again Fall 2017 and then Summer 2018, when the School of Social Work will be launching a Social Work with Combat Veterans certificate program for MSW students.