February 16, 2011 11:12 Age: 3 yrs

Methland Author to Speak at Emory Law

Nick Reding, author of Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town, will give a public lecture on his award-winning book at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, in Emory Law’s Tull Auditorium. Admission is free and parking is available in the adjacent Lowergate Parking Deck on Gambrell Drive.

Methland addresses the impact of the methamphetamine epidemic on the people of the small town of Oelwein, Iowa. Reding’s book reveals how the devastating local meth crisis in one Iowa town is linked to complex issues such as:

  • The emergence of agribusiness in displacing the family farm;
  • The failures of law enforcement resulting in part from the lobbying against statutory and regulatory reform by “big pharma” and from lobbying against immigration reform by agribusiness; and
  • The story of environmental hazards created by both agribusiness and underground methamphetamine industries.

Methland: First All-Emory University Course

In addition to his public talk, Reding is traveling to Atlanta to spend time in the classroom, visiting Emory’s first all-university course, which is based on his book.

"The idea behind the course is that faculty and students from all units in the university should come together as a single entity to study an issue of common concern with the tools supplied by many disciplines," says Morgan Cloud, Candler Professor of Law and one of the course organizers.

Methland is the latest product of Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence. Cloud is co-leading the course with Jeffrey Rosensweig, associate professor of finance at Goizueta Business School, and Laurie Patton, Candler Professor of Religion and CFDE director.

Joining them in leading the weekly sessions are faculty members from across the university, including the disciplines of law, business, economics, anthropology, public health, neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology, among others.

Cloud says the course aims to "not only create an intellectual community, but to enact a sense of common purpose across the diverse groups that convene under the Emory banner." Teams of students, which include both undergraduates and graduate students in a variety of disciplines, are working together on projects related to issues studied in the course.

"After the first class I remembered how much fun it is to be a college student," says Cloud, who has been teaching law for more than two decades. "The students, who are diverse in age and come from all over the world, are good at expressing themselves from completely different perspectives, but are also listening and interacting. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at Emory."

"The atmosphere in the classroom is electric," says Patton, adding that a true university-wide course is unusual on most campuses. "One of the best ways to bring a university together is not just big events, but through daily habits, such as a course. The everyday habits are what build the possibilities for developing new ideas."

Cloud adds that dozen or so faculty who are teaching the course’s sessions on different aspects of the meth epidemic have received no compensation for doing so. "They just wanted to be part of this. Everybody is contributing to the shared life of the university."

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