Hurricane Katrina helped an advertising class cover ethics, gave future engineers a chance to see what hurricanes do to their buildings, taught future social workers the kinds of challenges they will face in the real world and showed future public policy wonks that they should always be prepared to handle the worst-case scenario.
At Mississippi State University, an advanced graphics design class, taught by Rebecca Davis, used the hurricane as starting point for ethics and social responsibility. Davis' class created a public service campaign that focused on rebuilding after the hurricane. You can see their work online here.
The destruction of most of New Orleans provided students in Harvey Johnson, Jr.'s classes at Jackson State University with a first-hand view of how poverty exacerbates public policy problems.