ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The University of New Mexico is going to offer a free online class on curanderismo -- the art of traditional healing.
The school announced this month it will create a Massive Open Online Course as an offshoot of its popular curanderismo class offered on campus every summer. The MOOC, as it is called, will go live late August or September through the online company Coursera, and will allow any user from around the world to log in and check out how traditional healers practice their craft among indigenous populations in the Americas.
Eliseo "Cheo" Torres, vice president for student affairs, said he will teach the class along with traditional healers from Peru, Mexico and New Mexico. He will use modules and have healers explaining their work.
"We will be discussing all those wonderful things that have been lost in this country," Torres said. "We will talk about healings, how to perform a cleanings and about different herbs."
Curanderismo is the art of using traditional healing methods like herbs and plants to treat various ailments. Long practiced in indigenous villages of Mexico and other parts of Latin America, curanderos also could be found in parts of New Mexico, south Texas, Arizona and California.
Among the ailments curanderos treat, for example, is susto, or magical fright. Susto is a folk illness linked to a frightful experience, such as an automobile accident or tipping over an unseen object. Those who believe they are inflicted with susto say only a curandero can cure them.
The university launched its first MOOC this year with a course on Web application architectures and attracted more than 35,000 participants.
Andrew Chesnut, the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, said interests in curanderismo has been growing worldwide but he hadn't heard of a school offering an online class on the subject
"It's interesting because it's the pre-modern meeting the post-modern," Chesnut said. "Here you have the art of traditional medicine being taught through the Internet. It's fascinating."
Torres said the university offers MOOC as a public service and to get the school's name out.