Generation Y Studies JFK's Life and Times

Forty SMU undergraduates have a unique opportunity to capture the zeitgeist of a turbulent time as the nation prepares to observe the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22. SMU political science Professor Dennis Simon and senior English lecturer Tom Stone in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences are teaching a special course during fall 2013 that examines the life, times and legend of JFK.

The students and professors are blogging about their experiences here. Learn more about SMU’s experts and archival collections related to the presidency and assassination at

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Understanding the past; preparing for the future

An update from Gerry, a sophomore majoring in biology and minoring in history in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences:

I have always liked to consider myself a history buff of sorts. Studying how certain aspects of culture and events cause change over time has always been an intellectual hobby of mine. With that in mind, I have always had a keen interest in John F. Kennedy’s time in office and the events that occurred during that period. Specifically, I’ve always been intrigued with how JFK’s presidency would come to change the nation as a whole. When I saw this course as an option, I was beyond excited.

In class, we have just discussed the election of 1960 – a most unique and even pioneering time in American history. By looking at how the campaign and then the election itself unfolded, I gained a deeper appreciation of just how influential a seemingly unimportant fact can be. These kinds of discussions are why I’m glad I’m taking this course. In addition to the course itself, I picked up a copy of the paper the Dallas Morning News printed on November 23, 1963 (the DMN re-released it in honor of the 50th anniversary of the assassination). Looking through it has truly helped to add more context to what we’re studying in class.

Though it’s sure to be a great deal more work, I’m quite excited to see what else I learn from Professors Simon and Stone. I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the group of students that gets to partake in this course taught 50 years after JFK’s assassination. It is so important that we as a people not forget or diminish the events that occurred that day or the long-lasting effects it had on our nation.

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