The Center for the Study of New Orleans undergoes major changes

Ryan Micklin

The Center for the Study of New Orleans is going through some major changes as former director, Leslie Parr, steps down and hands her directorial duties over to Justin Nystrom, assistant professor of history.

“I am very happy that the Center for the Study of New Orleans will continue under the leadership of Dr. Nystrom. I know that Dr. Nystrom has some very good ideas and I am eager to see the directions the Center and the New Orleans Studies minor will take,” Parr said.

Nystrom briefly took charge of the Center for the Study of New Orleans in the past as Parr decided to go on sabbatical for a semester but now Nystrom has full control of the Center and the direction of the New Orleans Studies minor.

Nystrom said the Center for the Study of New Orleans accomplished its initial mission under the direction of Parr, which was to rejuvenate New Orleans culture after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

“There was a sense that New Orleans culture was threatened after the storm and so Dr. Leslie Parr and some others got together and created this center. The center for New Orleans was slated for elimination because it had accomplished it’s mission. It was time to do something different,” Nystrom said.

The center will indeed be doing something different under the direction of Nystrom, as he wants to take more of an interdisciplinary approach in order to get more students involved.

“We are going to be developing a new curriculum that is designed for students who are interested in civic engagement or public service. New Orleans is a city. It’s a place where you can learn lots of things and translate them to other places. To understand New Orleans is to understand the challenges of the 21st century city wether it is flood control, the port, crime, gentrification, or education. All of these things are here and available to be studied by students,” Nystrom said.

In addition to revamping the New Orleans Studies minor curriculum, he will also be creating a forum where New Orleans Studies minors can meet and create a peer group of students who are interested in being leaders in this city or elsewhere.

“The revamping of the minor and the public intellectual reshaping of the center has a lot to do with keeping the students in mind. We want students to come to Loyola who see New Orleans not just as a fun and interesting place to live in but a place where they can really develop their career,” Nystrom said.

Nystrom said he wants his students to learn from the city and realize that New Orleans, as unique as it is, struggles with similar issues that you could find in any other big city.

“There is a lesson to be learned around every corner in New Orleans. It’s an active, vibrant, diverse city with a lot of issues that you would find elsewhere,” Nystrom said.