Marian University creates class based on "Making a Murderer"

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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) - The case against Brendan Dassey and his uncle Steven Avery gained international attention when Netflix released its series "Making a Murderer" back in 2015. The documentary is now the basis of a class offered at Marian University in Fond du Lac.

Photo: Netflix / Making a Murderer

This spring, Marian University started offering an online class called "Did We Make a Murderer?" It was created after students showed a lot of interest in the Avery case.

Alan Johnson, a retired lieutenant with the Milwaukee Police Department and Director of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security at Marian University, teaches the class.

He says, "A lot of students were writing class papers about the topic, and we actually had some students actually go out to the Avery property and tried to knock on doors. We had to try and tell them to stop doing that, but it kind of led us to this idea that we needed to try and fill that void that they were looking for."

Each week, students in the one credit class are assigned to watch an episode of part one of "Making a Murderer" as well as read some supplemental information about the case or a legal topic. They are then asked to consider Avery's guilt or innocence and support their side in an online forum. The purpose is to help them better understand the legal and court system.

"Get them to think critically, analyze information, not just think emotionally about a case," says Johnson.

Though mainly focused on the Netflix documentary and not the entire legal case, Johnson says there are some discussions about expanding the curriculum given the reach of the story.

Johnson adds, "One of the things that intrigued me about creating the class is that I saw some data that said that over 12 million people have seen this documentary, so there's a lot of people clearly interested in this case, so if students from anywhere in the country are interested they can take it, it's online."

Another semester of "Did we Make a Murderer?" is planned for this summer.