Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


October 29, 2001

Classrooms, lessons adjust to deal with terrorist attacks

By Eric Rangus


The Emory community has dealt with last month’s terrorist attacks and current fears of bioterrorism in a multitude of manners.

Several high-profile forums and panel discussions have featured specific issues related to Sept. 11 and its aftermath. For example, 16 campus groups co-sponsored the forum “Under-standing: From Intolerance to Respect,” Sept. 19 in Glenn Auditorium.

Last Wednesday, Oct. 24, another forum investigated the events from a religious standpoint (see story, p. 1). The
next evening, the subject was explored from a media perspective. Without a doubt campuswide forums are an effective way to address the attacks as well as strength the ties within the Emory community.

Another less public but certainly no less important way to deal with the dangerous new world is in the classroom. With a subject too terrible to ignore, professors across Emory have brought Sept. 11 into their classrooms and into their daily activities with students.

The department of Middle Eastern studies, for instance, stepped up quickly. In many classes, professors have taken time specifically to address issues regarding Islam, the history of the region, the current political climate and many other aspects of the present

Professors have conducted considerable outreach as well. First, several faculty members sat down with Middle Eastern studies majors to discuss ways of addressing the tragedy. Then visiting assistant Professor Kimberly Katz, who received her bachelor’s in Middle Eastern studies from Emory in 1990—she was one of the program’s first three graduates—led an effort for faculty members to talk to students about Sept. 11 and its aftermath in their dorms. One session drew as many as 50 students.

“It’s a unique way for students to learn,” said Katz, a sophomore advisor, resident advisor and senior resident advisor during her Emory undergraduate days. “We can talk to them in their homes where the atmosphere is more informal, and it allows every student to ask a question.”

Katz has spoken to students in Dobbs, Longstreet, and Woodruff Halls as well at the Complex (Hopkins, Smith and Thomas Halls).

Political science assistant professor Carrie Wickham has adjusted her Islam and Politics class to include a day devoted to terrorist groups.

“It’s interesting to look at the perspective of this class, especially now that the entire world is learning about Islam, too,” said college junior Natasha D’Souza, a student in Wick-ham’s class.

In his freshman seminar “Making Sense of Globalization,” sociology Associate Professor John Boli begins each class period by discussing the latest developments of the war on terrorism with the class and how they affect globalization.

This is the third year Boli has taught the seminar, and world events following Sept. 11 required that he adjust the course accordingly.

“We talk about the issues of cultural difference, for example,” Boli said. “I try to link the various aspects of globalization to what’s happening now.”

Economics visiting professor Amir Kia may not have changed his style of teaching, but he has introduced new subject matter to his Stocks, Bonds and Financial Markets class.

“The class is purely related to the real world,” Kia said. “The news is right there, and
I always have fresh examples.” The Sept. 11 attacks are unique in that there is no historical precedent related to the way markets would react to such an event, Kia said. Significant events in stock market history (the crash of 1929 and several recessions since then, for example) all contained warning signs. The terrorist attacks shut down the New York Stock Exchange for several days without any forewarning. The current situation provides students the opportunity to learn about and analyze the market as it advances into completely unchartered waters.

Faculty efforts are not limited to Emory College. Grady Hospital’s department of emergency medicine, which features only a small amount of classroom time for its students, put together a conference Oct. 9 for its residents and other members of the Atlanta health care community focusing on responses to bioterrorism. One of the topics of discussion was smallpox, a disease thought eradicated a generation ago that has returned to public’s consciousness amid fears of its possible use as a biological weapon.

“We’re thinking about things we normally don’t think about,” said Ben Holton, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Grady.

Holton added that the new atmosphere is a learning experience—not only for medical students but for the emergency medicine faculty members as well.

“We’ve learned a lot about topics that we would normally not know a great deal about,”
he said. “People associated with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency medical services] and disaster planning have given us a lot of


Back to Emory Report October 29, 2001