Warning: This course may cause emotional distress

For Monitor on Psychology July/August 2014:

We know about them from “Dpointateline” stories on kidnappings and from gory shows such as “Game of Thrones.” But trigger warnings — the messages that alert viewers of disturbing material such as rape or violence — may now have a place in the classroom.

The University of California, Santa Barbara, student government has issued a guideline asking faculty to include warnings in syllabi. The goal is to allow students who may have experienced traumas to miss classes that have emotionally upsetting material without affecting their grades. Other students, including those at Rutgers University and Oberlin College have raised similar concerns over content.

But trigger warnings are controversial. As soon as Santa Barbara students issued their guideline, free speech groups and the media criticized them as a generation that needed to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. They also raised the question of where to draw the line. Would a professor teaching “The Great Gatsby” now need to warn students about violent content, as recommended by one Rutgers University student? Read More

 

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