In Malawi, children as young as five years old work in tobacco fields. In the Silicon Valley (USA) five-year-olds compete to attend top preschools. Stanford communications major Minkee Sohn highlighted that dramatic contrast with a parody video Fresh Recruits for a new Stanford anthropology class. Taught by Matthew Kohrman PhD, the class ‘Smoke and Mirrors in Global Health’ aimed to raise awareness about the global tobacco industry and was the subject of a recent Stanford News article.
Simply acknowledging that ‘smoking is bad for you’ is no longer enough to halt tobacco’s spread. As noted in the piece, the tobacco industry remains a powerful global force and produces three times as many cigarettes as it did during the smoking heyday in America in the 1960s. It’s also the source of millions of preventable deaths. Kohrman encouraged his students to develop original communication strategies and to take on hard-hitting issues, such as the use of underage labour.
For their final projects, Kohrman’s class presented a slew of web-based videos, exposé, and written critiques exploring little known facets of the global tobacco industry, including: Chinese academia’s involvement in the tobacco industry, Philip Morris’ use of child labour in Africa, and South Korea’s flawed approaches to tobacco control. Overall, Kohrman, an associate professor of anthropology, deemed his experimental class a great success. The course uncovered many little-known aspects of global tobacco, and taught students to “understand the sociocultural means by which something highly dangerous to health such as the cigarette is made both politically contentious and inert.” View full article
Alex Giacomini (17 June 2015) The battle against big tobacco hits the classroom [editorial]. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/q6peouy