Winter Term course focuses on hurricane relief efforts

Some Elon University faculty and students took their Hurricane Katrina relief efforts one step further this month with a Winter Term course called “Volunteerism, Social Justice & Civic Engagement in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina.” Details...

Fifteen students are enrolled in the General Studies class which will leave early on Monday, Jan. 9, for Bay St. Louis, Miss., and the hands-on portion of the instruction.

Ocek Eke, assistant professor of communications, developed the unique course after traveling to the hurricane stricken area with the fall break service trip group. The course examines civic responsibilities of citizens in times of natural disasters with a focus on Hurricane Katrina, according to Eke.

The students spent a week in the classroom, studying topics such as service learning and civic engagement, social justice, volunteerism and the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina through reading assignments, class discussions and guest speakers. They will spend January 10 – 17 volunteering in the Bay St. Louis/Gulfport, Miss., area on jobs assigned through the Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church. They will sleep on cots in dorm-type rooms provided by the nonprofit disaster relief organization Morrell Foundation.

Eke said the group will be making a one-day trip to New Orleans on Jan. 18 to visit the lower 9th ward and other areas severely impacted by the hurricane and flooding.

The students are required to keep a journal of their experiences while they are in Mississippi, and each student will complete a final project upon their return to Elon on Jan. 19. Alexa Darby, assistant professor of psychology, is accompanying the group as a volunteer.