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September 11, 2006
Sacramento State Bulletin

Incorporating Sept. 11's lessons into the classroom

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 five years ago are serving as the backdrop to discussions in numerous classes today at Sacramento State on issues ranging from Islamic religion and culture to American foreign policy and terrorism.

While no formal campuswide program is planned to mark the fifth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, professors who teach subjects related to issues surrounding Sept. 11 plan to devote class time to the subject.

For example, Ayad Al-Qazzaz, a sociology professor who for many years has taught a course on Middle Eastern societies and culture, says he will allow students ample time to discuss their views on the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. He says he always allows class time for discussion when significant events in the Middle East make news. During the recent summer session, Al-Qazzaz said, he used class time to discuss the Israeli bombing of Lebanon.

“I normally encourage the students to say whatever they want to say and to ask any questions so we can have serious dialogue on the subject,” said Al-Qazzaz. “I definitely will do the same thing about the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11.”

The subject of Sept. 11 will be the subject of discussion in the four criminal justice classes taught by Timothy Capron: two sections of a class on violence and terrorism, a course on police and society and a graduate management course. And they all meet on Monday.

Each year Capron reviews the events of Sept. 11 on or about the anniversary in his classes. He then leads his class through a thought-provoking exercise. “I do an assessment of how safe we currently are in a number of different areas and overall,” Capron said. “For example, overall I think we have gone from a “1” on a scale of 1 to 10 before 9/11 to a “3” currently and then we have a discussion about this.” Using Capron’s example a 1 is unprepared and a 10 is very prepared.

Capron said that in his classes he emphasizes to students that they have a responsibility to understand the stakes and the situation. “In my classes on violence and terrorism I spend a great deal of time on Islam,” he said. “It is basically at war with itself, moderates versus radicals. I usually do an entire lecture on the history of the conflict between Islam and Christianity that week as well.” Capron said that lecture is based on a talk by Rex Gurney of William Jessup University, who is an expert on the history of religion and was a visiting scholar to campus last year.

Other faculty members have responded by altering their courses to reflect the attack and its implications. For example, William Dorman, a government professor who is taking part in the faculty early retirement program this semester, says his course on American foreign policy since World War II previously had been divided between two parts: the Cold War from 1945 to 1989 and the period following. Now Dorman has added the post Sept. 11 period as a third part of the class.

In the five years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Sacramento State has responded in other academic areas as well. Last fall a minor in Middle East and Islamic Studies was created through the Department of History in the College of Arts and Letters. The interdisciplinary minor covers topics such as Islamic civilization and government and politics of the Middle East.

And in the Department of Foreign Languages there is now much more interest in classes to learn Arabic, says Eva Aramouni, who teaches Arabic and French. Two sections of elementary Arabic are being offered this fall.

In addition to changes in the classroom, the University has created the Iranian and Middle East Studies Center, under the direction of Bahman “Buzz” Fozouni, chair of the Government Department. The center, part of the Destination 2010 effort to increase the globalization of the curriculum, also aims to strengthened ties with the Iranian and Middle Eastern community in the Sacramento region.

 


 

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