This makes me very uncomfortable .

Curses, the students are doing voodoo
By BEN FAWKES - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 14 August 2008

Students rarely receive an A for sending a curse to their lecturers, but that is what Massey students are being encouraged to do.

The university's new magic and witchcraft paper allows students to make voodoo dolls or "magical curse tablets" for their first assignment.

The School of History, Philosophy and Classics is offering the extramural paper, which examines attitudes toward magic.

It has 120 students in its first semester. Listed as a religious studies paper, it can also be credited in history and classics degrees.

It was devised by senior classics lecturer Gina Salapata, who said it involved staff across the history, classics and religious studies departments. "These things are not just made up. The format of a curse or spell must be based on real examples from the classical period and reflect the beliefs of the practitioners."

A course outline says it will help highlight "beliefs, values, structures and tensions" within societies studied. These include ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, modern Europe and Maori society at the time of European colonisation.

"In their many guises, magic and witchcraft have been important features of most societies, whether approved of or feared by non-practitioners," the outline states.

Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly, who holds a masters in history, said the skills taught in any university course were often as important as the subject matter. "The questions that need to be asked of any tertiary education are, what are they doing to create good citizens and what are they doing to ensure the skills are transferable?" General arts courses such as history or sociology, taught students how to write well, research and process large amounts of information quickly.

History lecturer Karen Jillings, who teaches the medieval component of the course, said the curse tablet and voodoo doll option was just one aspect.

From here.