Up in the Sky? Up in the Sky!
For grades 11 -12
This class will explore the relationship between U.S UFO sightings and Cold War Paranoia. The highest incidents of UFO sightings in modern American history all occurred during the cold war. Our central question will be, are UFO sightings cultural mass hysteria or truth? This class will not attempt to solve the question, do aliens exist, rather, what did aliens represent during the cold war and how does mass paranoia affect the individual. We are going to be doing some paranoia experiments, and digging up some films and artifacts from the alien obsessed era. And although it is prior to the cold war, we will definitely listen to the infamous 1938 War of The Worlds broadcast.
In his 1962 speech at Rice University President Kennedy said:
"For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war."
David Clarke and Andy Roberts, in their book "Out of the Shadows" write that the UFO craze began at the start of the Cold War, when the new threat of atomic war with the Soviet Union hung over the world. 'It was just simple to want to believe in something up there in the sky that could come and rescue us,' he said.
Clarke and Roberts ALSO uncovered evidence that the American Secret Service, with the possible connivance of the British, looked at ways of using the public panic over UFOs as a psychological weapon against the Russians. In CIA memos marked 'secret', top officials consider exploiting the UFO craze. 'I suggest that we discuss the possible offensive or defensive utilization of these phenomena for psychological warfare purposes,' wrote CIA director Walter Smith in 1952.
The class will visit some famous sites - the locations of UFO sightings - and do a fair amount of star gazing, sleuthing, and thought experimenting. Students will be expected to create projects that address the psychology of paranoia - these can be written projects, zines, radio broadcasts a la War of the Worlds, or multi-disciplinary performances.
Emergency & Faculty Contact information:
In the event of an emergency, you can contact us at the following numbers. We will have direct access to all travel groups.
During school hours: Call Tree at (818) 732-3000 or Phu Tranchi at (818) 732-3195.
Phu Tranchi: firstname.lastname@example.org
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