This is a history-meets-psychology class that explores the phenomenon of witch hunts.
If you've grown up in Massachusetts, you're no doubt familiar with the Salem Witch Trials. But witch-hunting goes back to the beginnings of modernity in Europe, and continues even today in some Asian and African countries. Why? What fears and stresses do societies face before a witch hunt occurs? Who is targeted? And how can they defend themselves?
In addition to studying actual witch hunts, we'll also look at metaphorical witch hunts such as the "Red Scare" in the 1950s, the demonization of HIV-positive individuals in the early 1980s, the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military, and modern-day acts of internet trolling such as "#Gamergate."
The main question in this class will be: "When is skepticism warranted?" It's important to think critically, of course, but sometimes societies can become too suspicious, seeing devious motives and sinister agendas where none exist. In times of uncertainty, how do we strike a balance between healthy risk assessment and hysterical overreaction?
Suggested age range: 13+
Main text is Arthur Miller's play The Crucible. Read/watch other media as assigned. All Rise Out classes are homework-optional.
Fridays from 11:00 to 12:00.
September 15 to December 8. No class November 24.
Registration and Fees
Registration and payment collection for Rise Out programs is handled by Rise Out.
Fee: $200 for the semester + a Netflix subscription. (Rise Out media policy) Includes the cost of books. $10 discount for Voyagers members.
Payment plans available. Fees waived for families with financial need. (Rise Out waivers and payment plan information.)
Most semesters, Rise Out classes at Voyagers are standalone classes. This semester, uniquely, all three classes complement each other (example: reading Orwell's 1984 in Dystopian Literature, Animal Farm in The Cold War, and Arthur Miller's The Crucible in Witch Hunts). While you can still enroll in each session separately, there is a $50 discount for students who enroll in all three.
About the Provider
The Rise Out programs at Voyagers are led by Rise Out founder, Laura Fokkena. Laura has over a decade of experience working as an education director and literacy consultant in K-12 out-of-school programs in the greater Boston area. She has a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is also an adjunct professor in Lesley's Global Studies department.
Rise Out is a 501(c)3 nonprofit offering classes for homeschooling teens at Voyagers, as well as in Cambridge and online. Rise Out also consults with teens exploring and pursuing alternatives to traditional high school.