In the media

  • 'Death Class' Taught Students A Lot About Life

    Plenty of college courses delve into the big philosophical questions of life, but Norma Bowe's class was different. For years, the nurse and college professor taught a class that forced students to confront death head-on — there were poems about death, trips to cemeteries and funeral homes, and "goodbye letter" writing assignments. At its core, the class became an opportunity for students to try to come to grips with the death or pending death of a loved one in their own lives.

    In Death Class, journalist Erika Hayasaki — who covered the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech — tells the story of the class and the students whose lives were changed by it. Click the audio link above to hear Rachel Martin's conversation with Bowe and Hayasaki.

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  • 'Death Class' is surprisingly uplifting

    “The Death Class: A True Story About Life,” by Erika Hayasaki

    Tragedies always make you think about your own mortality. Someday, yes, you’re going to die. But as you’ll see in “The Death Class: A True Story About Life” by Erika Hayasaki, you need to learn to live first.

    As a journalist for several larger newspapers, Hayasaki had seen plenty of death. She was at Virginia Tech after the shootings; had been on New York City ’s streets; had seen corpses, interviewed survivors. She’d even been close friends with a victim of domestic violence. And it began to bother her – a lot.

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  • 'The Death Class: A True Story About Life' by Erika Hayasaki

    Last year, you went to too many funerals.

    There were too many days taken off work to attend wakes. Too much sitting Shiva, too many casseroles eaten in church basements, too much grief and too many friends lost. Even if it only happened once, it was too much.

    Tragedies always make you think about your own mortality. Someday, yes, you’re going to die. But as you’ll see in “The Death Class: A True Story About Life” by Erika Hayasaki, you need to learn to live first.

    As a journalist for several larger newspapers, Erika Hayasaki had seen plenty of death. She was at Virginia Tech after the shootings, had been on New York City’s streets, had seen corpses, interviewed survivors; she’d even been close friends with a victim of domestic violence. And it began to bother her – a lot.

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  • The Leonard Lopate Show

    Nurse Norma Bowe explains why she decided to teach a college course on death and why it became so popular. She’s joined by journalist Erika Hayasaki, to discuss how Norma worked with four extraordinary students from struggling families and difficult neighborhoods toward happiness. She rescued one young woman from her suicidal mother, helped a young man manage his schizophrenic brother, and has inspired another to leave his gang life. Hayasaki writes about the class and its impact in The Death Class: A True Story about Life.

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  • 'Death Class' puts emphasis on living fully

    As a reporter, Erika Hayasaki covered disasters and American tragedies, but it wasn't until she took a college course on death that she began to understand the difference between the good and the bad way to end.

     


    The class was called "Death in Perspective," and Hayasaki sat in on it for a Los Angeles Times "Column One" story in September 2008. Taught by professor Norma Bowe, the course at New Jersey's Kean University has a three-year waiting list.


    Bowe is a former nurse with a "fondness for cemeteries and could spend hours … kicking back on a freshly mowed patch of grass next to the grave of a stranger," writes Hayasaki in her new book, "The Death Class: A True Story About Life" (Simon & Schuster, .00). Although she may sound like a character from a Tim Burton film, Bowe is a woman with an abundance of enthusiasm for daily life. She is a teacher with a drive to change attitudes toward, well, expiration and being alive.

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  • MSNBC - The Cycle - 1/16/14

     

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  • Experience Dr. Norma Bowe's Death Class

     

    Erika Hayasaki's The Death Class reveal the gripping true story of an extraordinary professor who teaches a popular course on death and plunges deep into the off-campus hours of her most vulnerable students to show them how to live.

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  • Lessons Learned: Sometimes "No Day at the Beach"

    Now that BP's Macondo oil well has been declared "dead," as reported by Adm. Thad Allen on September 19, the real challenge begins. What is the state of the Gulf and what will it be in 5, 10 years and beyond? To simply take a "snapshot" of the Gulf today is an immense task, involving careful measurement of contaminants in the land, sea and air, as well as health impacts -- short-term and long-term -- on wildlife and on affected populations.

    For such a "snapshot" to have real meaning, a side by side analysis of the same information collected before the oil spill would be required -- a difficult task, since a central, open access environmental and public health "library" does not exist for the Gulf or for any region, for that matter. As the Gulf begins a return to equilibrium, we need a series of such massive data sets to gain a perspective on whether a quicker recovery is possible using the best tools available.

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  • Finding Life's Meaning in Death

    Students in a college class visit the dead, the dying and convicted murderers. Along the way, they learn to value what they have.

    UNION, N.J. — The dead man lies naked on a metal table, a small cloth covering his groin, mouth open, arms rigid and cocked.

    A blue-gloved autopsy technician thrusts a hefty razor into his chest, unzipping his brown skin to reveal a thick layer of yolk-colored fat. He pulls marbled meat from the bone.

    The man was 30, an only son, married, a father of three. Around 9:40 p.m. the night before, someone shot him in the head. Now, a technician at the New Jersey Medical Examiner's Office in Newark is holding his lungs, tar-speckled as if covered with spores of mold.

    Rebecca Schmidt, 21, a ponytailed biology major, stands over the body, alongside a dozen of her Kean University classmates midway through the eight-week summer course Death in Perspective.

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  • Kean University student group cultivates Gandhi-inspired transformation in Newark’s community gardens

    The life and work of Mahatma Gandhi has been an inspiration for those fighting oppression and seeking peace through non-violence. The quote “We must be the change we want to see in the world, ” has been attributed to him. One organization has taken this charge and is making significant contributions to community gardens in Newark.

    Professor Dr. Norma Bowe in the College of Education at Kean University and students in the group Be the Change have worked with community gardeners on S. 14th Street at the Rica Jenkins Memorial Community garden, at Baxter Terrace Community Garden where seniors across the street can tend vegetables and sit outside and on Garside Avenue. In just a day, alongside residents, they turn around vacant lots and make them into edens for all to enjoy the open space for passive recreation and for cultivating flowers and vegetables. Check out this video of their work on a garden for seniors.

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The Death Class

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