Legacy of Struggle: Roots of War
Legacy - HNRS 1120

Instructor(s): Michael Thomas

Course Description

Humans have an extraordinary propensity for violence against one another. This propensity, while not technically unique to humans, still sets us apart from our animal peers. The ubiquity and scale of human violence is something special. A visitor from another planet would certainly conclude that humans are obsessed with violence, torture, and murder. The societal expression of this capacity is war. This seminar is a preliminary inquiry into the roots of war. The class will consist of readings, discussions, occasional instructor "lecturettes,” and several media presentations (films, audio programs). All students are expected to participate in all activities, including discussions. Objectives of the class include development of the following skills: 1) Writing, 2) Leadership and facilitative behavior in groups, 3) Reflective thinking, 4) Global thinking, 5) Critical Thinking. 6) Professionalism.


  • Homer, The Iliad (Lombardo Trans)
  • Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
  • Col. Dave Grossman, On Killing
  • James Hillman, A Terrible Love of War
  • William Strunk and E.B. White,Elements of Style


  • Robert Gardener - DEAD BIRDS
  • Errol Morris, THE FOG OF WAR - Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamera


  • BBC - The My Lai Audio Files
  • War Ballads Collection


Grades are based on evaluations of Six one page reaction papers (5 x 5= 25 points), a five page essay (15 points), a 1-2 page research project proposal (5 points), a six page research paper (15 points) In-class research presentation (10 points), attendance at three lectures or similar events (10 points - all or none), plus an assessment of participation (20 points). A: 88-100, Cr: 65-87, Ncr:  64 or less.

No Video

About the Instructor(s): Michael Thomas

Dr. Thomas is an anthropologist. A N.M. native, he got his BA from UNM and his PhD. from the University of Washington. He writes fiction, novels and short stories. He was born on  day one of the Nuremberg War Crime Trials at the end of WWII. During the course of his life the US has fought five wars and endured three decades of Cold War. He has some reflections on the subject of war.