Courses and Curriculums Grow to Accommodate Post-September 11 Interests

February 8, 2002

Source: The Washington Post

On February 8, 2002, The Washington Post reported that "the Sept. 11 terror attacks and their aftermath are taking a front-and-center seat in the nation's classrooms... prompting educators in fields as disparate as Islamic studies and microbiology to revamp their courses... It is highly unusual... for a single crisis to send ripples through such a broad sweep of disciplines -- not just language studies and international relations, but also religion, criminal justice, literature and information technology... American University professor Akbar Ahmed said his new 'World of Islam' course is similar to what he would have offered a year ago. Except for the FBI agent he added as a guest speaker. And the waiting list of students vying to enroll... Open-mindedness characterizes much of the Sept. 11 course work. It's a far cry from the curriculum shakeups of World War II, when educators yanked Wagner, Goethe and German language instruction from classrooms. Today's academics are vigorously trying to promote understanding of other cultures, including those of the terrorists... At the highest levels of academia, educators have expressed a desire to take advantage of an altered climate. At George Washington University, President Stephen J. Trachtenberg -- who signed himself and his vice presidents up for Arabic lessons this spring -- is working to create a center for Abrahamic studies: the study of the linkages among Judaism, Christianity and Islam... Arthur Levine, president of Columbia University's Teachers College, predicted that Sept. 11 would bring small but lasting changes to the academic canon. The study of world civilization will probably emerge with a broader perspective, he said."