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Awesome Academics: War and Politics
Awesome Academics: War and Politics

September 25, 2014

Susquehanna brings classes to life with an interactive education

This class means war.

Well, not literally, but Andrea Lopez's War and Politics class at Susquehanna University turned Smith Lawn into a mock battle zone to illustrate lessons the students have been reading about.

Two groups, split into offense and defense, had to think about terrain (the rolling banks on the side of Smith Lawn), weapons technology (how far their Nerf guns would fire) and how either may influence the decision to fight.

This is just one example of how faculty members at Susquehanna-a liberal arts and science college in Pennsylvania-are bringing classes to life. Students saw the value of using hills and foliage to mask their positions, and learned hard lessons about the accuracy of foam projectiles.

"This was really great for learning about the strategy we're learning in class. It's one thing to see pictures on a screen, but really living and using what we've learned is the coolest part ever," said Madeleine Waltman, a senior majoring in German and international studies with an emphasis in diplomacy.

Lopez, an associate professor of political science, called the activity, "play with a purpose" as the class looked at deeper political and theoretical questions that revolve around the art of war.

"We have a section on looking at the offense-defense balance question-so whether it's easier to attack or defend. And whether that affects if armies will attack and what kinds of preparations go into it," said Lopez. "The students were pulling out the right ideas and applying it back to stuff they've read. And that's what I hope for."