Homicide, pop culture get ENMU classes

By Paula Cronic: PNT Staff Writer

Two classes added to Eastern New Mexico University’s summer schedule and a new degree program added to the fall schedule may allow students to gain a better understanding of real-life situations and some hands-on experience.

“Popular Culture” and “Homicide” will be available for students during the second session of summer courses that started Monday and will continue through July 28.

The idea for the homicide class came to Paul Lockman, professor of sociology and criminal justice at ENMU, after hearing the course was being taught at Northeastern University in Boston by James Alan Fox, professor of criminal justice, and Jack Levin, professor of sociology and criminology.

The two professors have studied and researched homicide quite a bit, and Levin has even visited ENMU and spoken to students, according to Lockman.

“There seems to be a lot of interest in homicide in our society because there’s a lot of fear of crime, and I think a lot of us fear not just crime but violence in our society as well,” Lockman said.

The class will focus on understanding trends and patterns of homicidal violence and also mass and serial killing. It will also aid in looking at homicides realistically, while learning what the motivations are behind those crimes.

Lockman said he will bring in guest speakers such as a district attorney, a judge and Portales Police detectives so students can better grasp how homicides are handled locally as opposed to the federal level or how Hollywood portrays homicide investigations.

He said most homicides occur between family members, friends and acquaintances, and it is rare that a person is killed by a stranger.

“Your chances of being killed by a serial killer is about the same as being struck by lightning,” Lockman said. “Coming upon (a serial killer) is not as frequent as shown in the movies.”

The “Popular Culture” course, taught by Anthony Shroeder, professor of communication, will inform students how the media interplays with popular culture and the influence that the media has.

According to Shroeder, the United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not teach media literacy, which is what most of the course material will consist of.

Media literacy, said Shroeder, is understanding the media and the influences it poses on our culture, which he said can be fashion, the invention of new products or the use of new products in a different way from the original intent.

“We want for the student to be a more critical viewer so the intent of the class is to really get them to analyze and to think about what message the media is giving us,” Shroeder said.

The students will also analyze movies, television and video games. There will be a lot of writing, which Shroeder said is the reason some students enroll in the class.

ENMU’s fall schedule will look slightly different because of the recent addition of a bachelor’s degree in film. The Digital Cinema Arts degree program is a combined effort between ENMU’s Art, Music, Theater and Dance, and Communicative Arts and Sciences departments.

According to an ENMU press release, each student will be required to take 14 professional practice hours focused on producing a short film. Freshmen and sophomores will receive credit for working as set designers, actors, editors, animators and writers on the final short films directed by juniors and seniors.

There will be eight emphases and students will choose two from directing the story, animation and media arts, acting, elements of theatrical design, art and sound, music and sound, computer graphics, art and design, and camera and production.

ENMU’s fall semester begins Aug. 28.