Sept. 11's lessons into the classroom
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.
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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