Terrorism Puts Mark On College Courses

Anti US demonstrators CBS/AP

Last January, Kelly O'Ryan talked her way into one of the few slots open for a new course called "Why Do 'They' Hate 'Us'?" at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.

This summer, she landed a job researching articles to update the reading list for the course exploring historic and political perspectives on the Sept. 11 attacks.

"It just seemed like one of the first classes that actually pertained to the real world," said O'Ryan, who will be a junior at the school near the Canadian border.

That's the sentiment on many campuses, where demand has continued and even grown for classes in the fall semester on subjects such as Islam, political history and terrorism that were suddenly hot topics after Sept. 11.

Ohio State University, for instance, is introducing "Politics and Culture in Central Asia."

Bioterrorism — its history and science, how to mine public records to learn about it, and how public policy figures in the mix - is a new science offering at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.

Georgia State University, responding to demand, just hired a professor to teach Arabic as well as an introductory course on Islam and another on Arabic literature and film. In addition, the school is adding courses on the life of Islam's founder, Muhammad, another on Islamic fundamentalism and one called "War, Peace, and Religion."

Sept. 11 also has brought new relevance to less popular courses.

Last fall, George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., canceled a course on computers and encryption, "Introduction to Information Security Technologies," for lack of interest. Now there's not just one section — already full with 40 students — but a second has been added. And the graduate school of public policy added a course on "Islam and the Internet."

The J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State has seen enrollment triple for a couple of courses on risk management, to around 40 each.

Jeff Hyson, an assistant professor at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, dreamed for years of teaching how historic events get reshaped in the collective memory.

This fall, in a new course called "History and Memory," he'll use Sept. 11 — including this year's televised memorials — as a major thread in a freshman seminar for history majors.

"What I want people to get out of this," Hyson said, "is the future of 9/11, as well as the past of it."
Written By ARLENE LEVINSON
  • Mary-Jayne McKay

Comments