- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) Virginia colleges are offering courses drawing on students’ interest in understanding terrorism following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
At least two schools, Washington and Lee University and the University of Richmond, will debut courses about terrorism. Other new classes include “Views From Islam” at Virginia Wesleyan College and “The Politics of Afghanistan” at the College of William & Mary.
In Lexington, Washington and Lee professor Robert A. Strong opened his introductory-level terrorism course yesterday. Mr. Strong had intended to offer two sections of his class, with 25 students each. Because demand was so great, he opened a third section.
Students will be required to write executive summaries of their course readings and give briefings about topics related to September 11, such as Osama bin Laden and airline safety, he said.
Students also will get a broader view of terrorism, learning about the Irish Republican Army and the Aum Shinrikyo terrorist group in Japan. Mr. Strong said he wants to help students understand the terrorists’ mind-set and evaluate the range of policies to combat them.
“What I want to do is give students context and some appreciation of the complexity of counterterrorism policy,” Mr. Strong said.
Tran Kim, a freshman from Richmond, said she is taking the course because she is considering a career in international relations and foreign affairs.
“I’m interested in diplomacy, and the September 11 events have affected me,” she said. “For me, personally, I don’t know too much about these issues, and my biggest question is, why did this happen and why don’t people like us? I don’t want to jump to conclusions why people don’t like us. There are obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.”
At other Virginia universities, some professors are retooling existing classes.
Steve A. Yetiv plans to trim some of the ancient history he usually covers in his “Middle East Politics” class at Old Dominion University to make room for a segment explaining “the evolution of terrorism and the historical background to the current crisis.”
The University of Richmond will shift gears in “Civil Rights and Civil Liberties” by offering more readings about civil liberties in wartime and perhaps fewer about issues such as voting rights and racial discrimination.
“Students have as much access to what is happening in the world as their professor,” said Akiba J. Covitz, an assistant political science professor. “If we don’t make what we teach relevant, we will lose significant numbers of them.”
For some students such as Mike Reynold, a Washington and Lee senior in the Army ROTC program at nearby Virginia Military Institute, a terrorism course will have practical value in the near future.
Cadet Reynold, of Laurel, will receive his Army commission in the summer. “I’m going to be out there committed to helping, hopefully, eradicate terrorism,” he said.

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