OSU to explore impact of terrorism with "War on Main Street"


CORVALLIS - The Oregon State University College of Business will present a lecture series this spring exploring the ramifications of terrorism, and America's ongoing war on terror at home.

Dubbed "War on Main Street: The Impact of Terrorism on Business and Society," the one-credit course is open to the public as well as to students. Last year, the college presented a similar course that examined the spectacular failure of Enron.

"The Enron Implosion" course drew an average of more than 500 students and community members for each of its seven sessions. It also attracted national attention, and was featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times and on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Reporters called from as far away as India and the United Kingdom.

The War on Main Street will focus on how terrorism has affected businesses and individuals.

"Since Sept. 11, the level of business investment and employment growth has plummeted," said Tom Dowling, an OSU College of Business faculty member who is leading the spring course. "Aside from housing starts, almost every segment of the economy is in bad shape. Only consumer spending has kept the economy afloat, and that is currently in danger as well.

"Business spending has been down for some time with few new initiatives," Dowling added. "Now consumers are starting to get the sense that it's time to hunker down."

The class begins April 7 and will meet from 6 to 7:15 p.m. every Monday for seven weeks in Milam Auditorium. A series of guest speakers will analyze the changes businesses have been forced to make in light of the USA Patriot Act and new immigration laws, while wrestling with the effects of terrorism on security, recruitment and broader issues, including ramifications on consumer confidence.

Guest speakers for the course include John Mitchell, chief economist with US Bank, who will discuss the impact of terrorism on Northwest businesses; and Stephen Engelberg, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, who co-wrote and produced a series for the New York Times on the emergence of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network. Engelberg now works for The Oregonian.

Two prominent OSU faculty members will also be featured presenters during the course. Cetin Koc, a professor of engineering and expert on computer forensics, will discuss the impact of terrorism on information freedom and technology. Nancy King, an assistant professor of business law and expert on work place privacy, will speak on privacy implications relating to terrorism and the USA Patriot Act.

Dowling said the course speakers will examine a number of questions relating to the impact of terrorism on business. They include how American businesses are holding up under the threat of terrorism; the cost of terrorism for business owners, customers and employees; how responses to terrorism may affect political and social processes; and new technologies that may help protect the assets of businesses and individuals, yet could conflict with Americans' civil liberties.

"One of the issues that will be fascinating to explore will be the impact of terrorism on privacy," King said. "The USA Patriot Act gave government enhanced surveillance power to monitor e-mail and the Internet. Also, businesses may be required to provide the government with information on their employees and on their clientele, and to keep their participation in surveillance secret."

All of these things have not only ethical implications, but real costs, Dowling pointed out.

"Businesses large and small may have to purchase additional layers of software to protect the company and to prevent, for example, the potential laundering of money," Dowling said.

The course schedule includes:

  • April 7: "Voices from Main Street," a panel discussion focusing on the statewide affects of the war on terrorism including reserves and National Guard call-ups, the experiences of foreign nationals and college students, and the impact on the business community.
  • April 14: John W. Mitchell, the western region economist with U.S. Bancorp, will present "Terror and the Invisible Hand," a discussion of terror's impact on the U.S. and Northwest economies.
  • April 21: Stephen Engelberg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for his coverage of Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network while at the New York Times - and now with The Oregonian - will discuss the impact of Sept. 11 on the business landscape.
  • April 28: Cetin Koc, an OSU professor of electrical and computer engineering, and a nationally recognized expert in cyber security will discuss how Sept. 11 had an impact on the Internet.
  • May 5: Michael R. Anderson, president and founder of New Technologies, Inc., will discuss national efforts in the area of computer forensics and security risk analysis for business and government clients.
  • May 12: Nancy King, an assistant professor of business at OSU and a noted analyst of privacy laws, will speak on the USA Patriot Act and its effect on civil liberties.
  • May 19: John D. Schmelzer, Attorney Adviser for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Office of Field Program, Washington D.C. will discuss national employment issues related to the war on terrorism.

The series will also be presented weekly to 400,000 Oregon households via the OPAN network. Students from around the U.S. may participate in the course for college credit via the OSU E-campus offering of the one credit business course.

More information on the course is available on the web at: www.bus.oregonstate.edu.