Cool Course

Flash Forward | Spring/Summer 2019

May 4 Visitor’s Center Walking Tour
Number: Spring 2019-CACM 30000/POL 30000; Spring 2020-PACS 30000/POL 30000

Name: May 4, 1970 and Its Aftermath

Instructor: Karen Cunningham, BS ’82, JD, associate professor of peace and conflict studies

Description: The events of May 4, 1970—when Ohio National Guardsmen fired on a crowd of students at Kent State University, killing four and injuring nine during an antiwar protest—not only impacted the university, but made news around the world. This upper-division course examines events and their aftermath in light of cultural, political, historical and social contexts. Through multimedia and guest speakers (which include original sources and eyewitnesses), students are exposed to different perspectives, enabling them to examine and analyze sources of information, different viewpoints, and the unanswered questions that still remain.

Objectives: Identify what happened on May 4, 1970, the critical movements and events leading up to it, the investigations and court cases that followed, and their local and global impact. Appreciate and value the importance to a civil society of tolerating diverse points of view. Think independently and critically about historical events of the past. Analyze various sources of information and their impact on understanding events surrounding the shooting and its aftermath. Evaluate and manage diverse points of view surrounding May 4, 1970.

Readings, multimedia and guest speakers: Course readings come from a wide variety of books, newspapers and other sources, such as Kent State and May 4th: A Social Science Perspective (Jerry Lewis & Thomas Hensley), The Truth About Kent State (Peter Davies), “The Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest,” The Kent State Coverup (Joseph Kelner), and articles from the Daily Kent Stater, Record Courier and other newspapers. Students also access the May 4 Special Collections, digital archives and other library resources, and view a variety of films, such as “Fire in the Heartland” and “The Day the War Came Home.” Guest speakers have included wounded students, witnesses (students and faculty), filmmakers and others.

Field trips: Tours of the May 4 Visitor Center and the site, and visits to the archives and digital collections help students explore different sources of information.

Assignments: Students work on a major project to focus on an aspect of May 4 that is of particular interest to them. Examples of past projects include comparing Kent State today to May 1970, seeing how much current students know about May 4, and reviewing efforts at memorialization. Students take a midterm exam and write a final reflective paper.

50th Commemoration of May 4

Beginning in fall 2019, Kent State University will launch a series of special programs and events leading up to the 50th anniversary of May 4, 1970. The university has already launched a website,, and a Facebook page,, for updates. Those interested can sign up for email updates on the webpage.

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POSTED: Monday, May 13, 2019 - 4:59pm
UPDATED: Monday, November 11, 2019 - 9:40am