December 6, 2001

Ag School Offering Terrorism Course

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In response to recent events, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is finalizing plans for a new course next semester called Global Conflict and Terrorism (ALS 494). The two-credit course, open to graduates and undergraduates from all colleges, will explore 11 main themes concerning global development and terrorism in the hope of promoting discussion and a better understanding among students.

James Haldeman, CALS senior associate director of international programs, is organizing the course as a follow-up to the University-wide and college specific teach-ins this semester. Haldeman said the idea for the course arose at a CALS forum held Nov. 8 to address issues raised by the terrorist attacks.

“We accepted the challenge issued by Vice Provost Isaac Kramnick to do something concrete in light of the Sept. 11 event,” he said.

The course, which will be graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis, will have a unique structure to address the issues involved, according to Haldeman. Each course session will focus on one issue, ranging from poverty to U.S. foreign policy, in lectures by a panel consisting of up to three faculty members or graduate students. A panel chair will then guide active class discussion.

For instance, Prof. David Wippman, law, will serve as chair for the session on international law.

“I think it’s important to include because many aspects of the U.S. response to Sept. 11 are in some sense regulated by international law,” Wippman said.

Other speakers confirmed for the course include Prof. Barry Strauss, history; Prof. Risa Lieberwitz, ILR (industrial and labor relations) collective bargaining, law and history; Prof. James Garbarino, human development; Prof. Porus Olpadwala, architecture, arts and planning; and Prof. David Powers, near eastern studies.

Expectations vary from an enrollment of 30-40 students to over 100. The class size will determine whether extra sections will be added.

“The [course] announcement has been out to CALS students for 24 to 48 hours now, and already around 20 students have expressed interest in enrolling,” Haldeman said.

“I don’t know how popular the course will be, though I anticipate substantial interest in it,” Wippman added.

Although the course will not be open to the public, Haldeman said that he is considering allowing walk-ins for individual sessions so that students not enrolled can learn about a specific topic.

“I’ve even encouraged students [not enrolled] to come to the first session,” he said. “We’ll have faculty go over the syllabus for the course, and we’ll have a website up soon.”

ALS 494 comes at a time when many universities across the nation are quickly adding terrorism-related courses to their offerings. According to a Nov. 12 Newsweek article, the University of California-Los Angeles has already added 50 courses related to the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We feel that terrorism is something that’s not going to go away quickly, and we want to make a long-term commitment,” Haldeman said.

To that end, the response to the course will determine whether it will become permanent and whether similar courses will be added.

Although the CoursEnroll period has ended, students can register next semester on Jan. 17 and 18. The S/U grade will be determined by three criteria: attendance, active participation, and possibly a paper or a group presentation to be given at the end of the semester, Haldeman said.

Global Conflict and Terrorism will meet Monday evenings in Warren Hall.

Archived article by Andy Guess