Professor Michael Spagat of the economics department at Royal Holloway, University of London launched his free online course, Accounting for Death in War: Separating Fact from Fiction, in the summer of 2018. Following the great success of the first run he is rolling it out for a repeat performance, also free of charge, starting on 7 January, 2019, with registration already open.
Last time the course attracted a diverse range of approximately 1,000 learners from nearly 100 countries. Once again, anyone can take the course which is expected to again attract an active, interesting wide-ranging learning group.
Accounting for Death in War: Separating Fact from Fiction examines human practices for documenting and remembering people who have died in wars as well as methods that are used to estimate their numbers. The course maintains a lively interplay between, on the one hand, concepts and methods of war-death accounting and, on the other hand, applications to specific wars including those in Kosovo, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Along the way Professor Spagat debunks some widely circulated myths, often drawing on his own research. The course focuses mainly on direct, violent war deaths but also covers some estimates of non-violent deaths caused indirectly by war.
A particular feature of the teaching approach is a series of ten interviews with leading experts in the field. Yet, judging from the first run, the course’s ultimate resource is the students who bring a wide range of perspectives and insights.
Michael said: “We were delighted with how many people enrolled on the course, and the positive feedback we have received.
“It was also great to see such a diverse demographic take in interest in what I think is a very important subject, and we’re hoping the second running of the course will interest even more people.
“Calculating the number of deaths during a war is a difficult, but necessary task - having accurate information is crucial for political and societal debates and decisions.”