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Students flock to new courses analyzing war, violence

22 August 2002

By Media Relations

BERKELEY - Just as new classes last spring examined the aftermath of Sept. 11, the continued unfolding of terrorism in our world has spawned more than a few new classes this fall to help broaden students’ understanding of violence on a mass scale.

"I really wanted to push beyond the day-to-day news coverage of that (Sept. 11) tragedy and try to offer a deeper understanding of violence on a mass scale," said Darren Zook, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science, whose new course, "Selected Topics in Comparative Politics: War, Violence and Terrorism," examines acts of war and terrorism throughout history. "What drives individuals, groups, cultures and nations to commit such acts of violence? How do they justify it, and how can we evaluate, understand or condemn such justifications?"

Zook said his department is looking for a larger room for his class, since he has 150 students and 80 more on a waiting list.

"Student interest in courses on war crimes, human rights, genocide, and tribunals has been growing considerably over the past few years," added rhetoric professor David Cohen, who is co-teaching a graduate seminar on war crime trials with Eric Stover, director of UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center.

"War Crime Trials: Pre-Trial Investigation to Judgment" will explore the inner workings of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia through the lens of eight trials and selected readings. Guests speakers have worked for or provided testimony to the tribunals.

Other war-related courses this fall include:

  • "War and Peace in the 20th and 21st Centuries," an upper division history class that includes an exploration of the Sept. 11 attacks and U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
  • "Covering Terrorism," a Freshman Seminar about reporters’ efforts to cover terrorism amid increased obstacles to obtaining information and heightened personal risks.
  • "The War on Terrorism: The West, Islam and the Arab World," a journalism class taught by Arab reporter Lamis Andoni on how the "War on Terrorism" affects media coverage of conflicts, wars and the relationship between the United States and Arabs and Muslims.
  • "Understanding Genocide," a Freshman Seminar that will look at national and international legal responses to threats to peace and security.
  • "The Cinema of War," a film studies class, will explore American war movies set during World War II and the Vietnam War. Students will examine the representation of combat and how film-makers may have been shaped by reporting, photojournalism, TV or documentary projects.

Other classes of note this fall: