Roll Back the Clock: Experience the 1960s

Each year for the past four years, Western Carolina University has developed and implemented an interdisciplinary learning theme. This year’s learning theme will be the “1960s: Take It All In.”

The 1960s learning theme hopes to take the political and social upheaval, including radical changes in music and civil rights, and infuse them into areas like curriculum and campus film series to draw a bridge between then and now to help us learn about ourselves.

Amy Cherry, assistant professor of music at WCU and the chair of the “1960s: Take It All In” steering committee, said that this year’s learning theme arose from the booking of the band 1964, the premier Beatles cover band, to WCU, on Feb. 9.

Cherry said that talks about the 1960s grew from the booking of that band by Paul Lormand and continued into the latter half of last semester. Dr. Robert Kehrberg, dean of the college of fine and performing arts, decided on the 1960s as the learning theme and then sent out a request of people who wanted to be involved on the steering committee.

For Cherry, her wide range of interests in the time period, from folk music to protest songs, pushed her to join.

“I teach a Music in American Culture [class]. There are so many aspects of the 1960s that are applicable today like cultural developments and scientific advancements. There’s a lot that we can learn from it,” said Cherry.

For the steering committee, four objectives helped to lay out their plan to institute the learning theme into the culture of WCU this year.

The first is enlightenment.

“We are trying to raise awareness of individual societal priorities, making people aware of a time period that they may have not been before, and expose them to as many different occurrences in the 1960s that they can,” said Cherry of the first objective.

The second objective is to create a sense of community at WCU, like the Poverty Project and Citizenship and Civility event did previously.

The third objective is the idea of participation and social action, such as the protests of the 1960s.

“Subject matter aside, it’s about the act of participating, the act of discussion and being involved in the experience. We can learn a lot of about social action from the 1960s,” said Cherry.

The fourth and final objective is relevance; knowing about the history, the culture and social significance and how is that relevant to us today.

The steering committee has planned many different and unique events for the learning theme, including a wind ensemble concert in October that will highlight music of the 1960s, “Ring of Fire,” an event highlighting the music of Johnny Cash in November, along with “Iron Maidens,” an art showcase of cast iron sculptures by talented craftswomen that is going on now in the Fine Arts Museum.

“In January, we will host ‘The Magical Mystery Tour of the 60s’ – decade retrospective with booths for each year run by a different faculty member about developments for that year: scientific, artistic, social, assassinations, music,” said Cherry.

The spring semester also offers a lot of exciting activities. In February, 1964, the Beatles tribute band, will perform, and March Gloria Steinem, a well-known rights activist, will be at WCU to speak. In April, although plans are not final yet, a “Wheestock” will take place, much in line with the infamous Woodstock.

Cherry hopes that the learning theme will help to bring the WCU community closer together, allow them to learn something that they can apply to themselves today but overall have fun as well.

For more information, visit the Facebook page of “1960s: Take It All In” at