CORVALLIS - Oregon State University has developed a special course focusing on the terrorist crisis that will be offered to students for credit, and free of charge to members of the general public who wish to attend the lectures.

The course, "Beyond the Headlines: Trying to Place the Crisis in Context," will be held each Sunday night from Oct. 14 to Dec. 2 from 7 to 10 p.m. in Milam Auditorium.

OSU is bringing to campus speakers from around the country - and world - to provide a greater background on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, Islam, human rights and other issues, said David McMurray, a faculty member in the university's Department of Anthropology who is organizing the course.

"What we are trying to do is provide some context and historical antecedents for the events of Sept. 11," McMurray said. "It is difficult to get beyond the horror and trauma of the bombings. But there are students and community members who have expressed a desire for objective information that will help them to understand how this could have happened."

Among the speakers are Rami Khoury, a columnist for The Jordan Times; Joe Stork, from the Washington, D.C., office of Human Rights Watch; and faculty members from OSU, the University of Maryland, The Evergreen State College, Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Lewis and Clark College and the University of Texas.

Among the questions they will address are:

  • How is the United States viewed in other parts of the world, and what activities have we engaged in that help define that viewpoint?
  • Who was behind the attacks, and who was not? What are their motives, and what are the underlying issues?
  • What lessons might be learned from this tragedy?
  • What will happen next?

"One of our goals is to investigate these questions in an effort to help class participants reach their own balanced and informed interpretation of the events," McMurray said. "We won't attempt to offer any justifications. Analyzing the facts in this case is a complex undertaking in its own right.

"But ideally, that is what universities are supposed to do," he added. "We may not be able to grasp the reality of these horrifying events. But we owe it to ourselves to try."

Community members who wish to attend the lectures will be admitted free of charge. Persons wishing to take the course, ANTH 407, for one hour of credit should call the OSU Registrar's Office at 541-737-4331.

The OSU course is sponsored by the Provost's Office and the International Education Program. The course outline may change with current events. A tentative syllabus can be found at www.osu.orst.edu/dept/anthropology/crisis.htm.

The schedule includes:

  • Oct. 14
    • Introduction: by David McMurray, OSU Department of Anthropology;
    • "A Brief History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict/Peace Process, Including U.S. Involvement," by Aaron Wolf, OSU Department of Geosciences;
    • "Middle East Responses to Western Imperialism at the Turn of the Century," by Jonathan Katz, OSU Department of History;
    • What is Political Islam and How Has it Changed During the 1990s?" by Jillian Schwedler, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland at College Park.
  • Oct. 21
    "What is the History of American Involvement in Afghanistan, with the Mujahideen and with Osama bin Laden?" by Steve Niva, a professor of political science from The Evergreen State College, and Zaher Wahab, a professor from Afghanistan teaching at Lewis and Clark College.
  • Oct. 28
    "What is the Historical Scope of American Involvement in the Middle East and West Africa?" by Joel Beinin, a professor of Middle East history, Stanford University. Nov. 4 "War (and) Crimes: Responding to the Attacks on the U.S.," by Lisa Hajjar, a professor in the Law and Society Program, University of California at Santa Barbara. Nov. 11 "What is the Nature of Pakistan's Role Both Before and After the Crisis?" by Kamran Ali, a professor of anthropology, University of Texas at Austin. Nov. 18 "What are the Differences in Media Coverage of the Crisis in the U.S. and the Middle East?" by Rami Khoury, visiting fellow at Harvard University and columnist for The Jordan Times. Dec. 2 "What are the Human Rights Dimensions of the Crisis?" by Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch, Middle East and North Africa desk, Washington, D.C. -30- Note to Editors: More bio information is available on many of the speakers. Contact Mark Floyd (541-737-0788 or Mark.Floyd@orst.edu) for details.