Sept. 11: A scholarly community responds
Campus initiatives provide resources, perspective to campus community and public

By Diane Ainsworth
Public Affairs


Above: This aerial shot from the collection shows the canyon of Kabul River, 5,000 to 6,000 feet in depth, which is east of Kabul and is traversed by a spectacular, Russian-built highway.
Douglas R. Powell photo, courtesy of the Geo-Images Project

14 November 2001 | In the two short months since Sept. 11, the Berkeley campus has mobilized to do what it does best in response to the crisis — educate its students and the public.

Scores of public talks, lectures, symposia, town hall meetings, teach-ins and projects were launched immediately after the horrific events of that fall morning, while courses relating to the “war on terrorism” and international area studies are being added and updated to address a new chapter in history.

Meanwhile, symposia and teach-ins — on topics ranging from the threat of bioterrorism to the rebuilding of the World Trade Center — are providing an opportunity the campus community and the public to examine aspects of the current situation easily overlooked in a time of alarming headlines and heightened rhetoric.

Symposia and teach-ins
Symposia and teach-ins proliferated in the weeks following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. From the very first public discussion, the afternoon of Sept. 11 in the bungalow-style living room of the Goldman School for Public Policy, to those born out of extensive planning, not a week has gone by without at least one symposium, town hall or seminar on relevant issues.

Among them have been a well-attended talk on bioterrorism and the challenges to public health, by School of Public Health epidemiologist Arthur Reingold; a lecture by Anthony Giddens, head of the London School of Economics, on the debate over globalization and its relationship to the current crisis; last week’s Chancellor’s Forum on Nuclear Danger and Global Survival, featuring a panel of experts on the consequences of Sept. 11 for international relations; and a College of Environmental Design forum on to the architectural and urban development issues that will be involved in rebuilding lower Manhattan.

Upcoming presentations promise to shed new light on Islam, Middle Eastern cultures and the traditional versus the contemporary roles of Afghan women. These include a day-long event Nov. 16 on “Women in Islamic Societies: New Questions in an Era of Globilization.” Hosted by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the symposium will address the status of women in the Islamic world and new areas of research on gender in Islamic societies.

New courses
Later this fall, at a date to be announced, the Office for Undergraduate Education will host a meeting about modifying course curricula to address issues raised by the Sept. 11 attack.

“Especially in an unprecedented situation such as the one we are now facing, no one person has all the answers, so the organizers will be depending on the faculty participants to contribute their experiences and advice,” Christina Maslach, vice provost for Undergraduate Education, said in a recent campuswide announcement.

In the meantime, at least 15 new courses and seminars — with titles like “Varieties of Islam,” “Reading Visual and Verbal Images of Sept. 11,” “The Public’s Response to Anthrax” and “Come Woeful Orpheus: Music’s Voice in a Violent World” — are in the works.

Publications, teaching and media resources
Efforts to provide information, literature and scholarly commentary on the terrorist attack and U.S. policies in the global arena have been initiated, many of them by students.

• Berkeley Political Review: At the news of Sept. 11, students working on a new nonpartisan policial journal, Berkeley Political Review, scrapped plans for the journal’s first issue in favor of material on Afghanistan, the Taliban, terrorism and American foreign policy.

“We switched gears at the last minute to do an issue devoted to the Sept. 11 attack, and the staff really worked to get it finished,” said Matteen Mokalla, a junior majoring in political science and philosphy. “The articles are all written by undergraduates, most of them political science majors, and some economics majors. The writers could have opinions, but the reporting had to be balanced, intelligent and thoughtful.”

Two thousand hard copies of the new magazine, distributed at local copy centers and campus outlets, disappeared in two-and-a-half days, he said.

• “Sept. 11: Context and Consequences” anthology: Cultural anthropology doctoral students Misha Klein and Adrian McIntyre — in response to what they view as a “vast oversimplification” of the situation by the news media — have produced an anthology of background articles, thought pieces and profiles on terrorism and terrorists.

“The goal of the anthology is to reach outside of the academic community and provide resources for political thought and debate,” Klein said. Entitled “Sept. 11: Context and Consequences,” the volume is being distributed to campus libraries, the Berkeley Public Library and to faculty at Bay Area colleges.

• Free reader on Afghanistan, Taliban, terrorism: The student group “Public Knowledge” is creating an as-yet untitled anthology of background materials, information on Afghanistan, the Taliban and U.S. policies on terrorism. The free reader will be available to students, staff, faculty and interested community members as soon as it is bound. Information is available at

• News coverage of Sept. 11, bin Laden: Moffet Library’s Media Resources Center — as part of its program to acquire notable historical footage for use in the classroom and for viewing in its media facilities — has purchased 24 hours of unedited coverage aired by CNN and Fox News beginning at 5 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sept. 11. The center is also arranging to acquire up to four hours of interviews with Osama bin Laden, aired by various networks, including footage of his taped pronouncement to the U.S. following the attack.

• Graduate archaeology students are developing outreach materials, teacher resource kits, curriculum guidelines and lesson plans related to the current crisis for instructors at local Bay Area schools. Led by graduate anthropology student David Palmer, the effort is part of the department’s longstanding outreach program with schools in the area.

Web-based resources
• International and Area Studies offers a current news section on its home page,, with links to a listing of Sept. 11-related spring courses. There is also a link to the Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, whose new Web site contains bibliographies on the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia, Afghanistan and the Middle East; information on universities, colleges and foundations carrying out projects to help Afghanistan; a terrorism expert lists; and upcoming campus talks, public forums and symposia.

• Digital archive on Afghanistan: Berkeley’s Geo-Images Project, a digitized archive of photographs chronicling people and environments of the world, offers an extensive Web-based collection of photos on Afghanistan taken by Douglas Powell. The online collection includes images of the Afghani people, towns in the country’s foothills, snow-covered winter landscapes and breathtaking views of rugged mountain terrain. Maintained by G. Donald Bain, director of Berkeley’s Geography Computing Facility, the collection is available at http://GeoImages.Berkeley.EDU/GeoImages.html.

• Education, outreach materials: The newly formed student group “Public Knowledge” has created a new Web site — — to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in education and outreach projects. Members are interested in developing a skills program for undergraduate and graduate students in such areas as media relations, public speaking and writing. The aim of skills training is to help members express their viewpoints effectively in print and broadcast formats and at community events.


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