Campus: CSU Northridge -- August 30, 2002

Textbook Offers Students Chance to Explore Consequences of War on Terrorism

America's war on terrorism has broad implications for all aspects of our lives.

A team of Cal State Northridge graduate students and part-time faculty have put together a textbook to help students in their first year writing classes ponder the issues raised by the United State's response to the terrorist attacks of September 11.

English professor Irene L. Clark, who spearheaded the project, said the creation of the textbook, "Understanding World Conflict Through Writing," grew out of discussions the graduate students and part-time faculty, who all teach first year writing courses, had in the weeks following the terrorist attacks last year.

"We realized we needed to change the curriculum. Our students are talking about what happened and how it impacted them emotionally as well as America's response," Clark said. "The resulting discussions were stimulating and students' writings were unusually thoughtful.
"There are so many issues raised by America's response to terrorism. We saw this as an opportunity to get our students to write about issues they were already talking about," she said.

The book is divided into two parts. The first half is dedicated to providing students with the tools they need to make thoughtful academic arguments and how to read critically.
The second section consists of readings associated with world conflicts and related issues emerging from the attacks. It provides a variety of writing assignments as well as classroom activities that foster the exploration of relevant issues.

As an example, Clark pointed to one of the pre-writing activities in the book. She said students will be asked to consider the possibility that their telephones are tapped.

Would you monitor your conversations? Would it be worth it to you if it would keep your neighborhood safe? And what are some of the consequences? These are among the issues students are asked to consider, Clark said.

Regina Clemens Fox, a graduate student in English and one of the 12 contributors to the book, said she hopes the topics will engage the students in her class.

"Hopefully the text will draw them in and get them to think," Fox said. "The material is so interesting and relevant and hopefully will provide some interesting discussions in class and on paper."

The other contributors to the book include Shayna Arhanian, Susan Caggiano, Esther Chua, Garnet Gratton, Alexa Hunter, Jeff Magnin, Andrea Modarres, Francien Rohrbracher, Caroline Russom, Mary Shannon and Anna Tripp.

Clark said that in many ways, the new textbook is not so different from others she and her colleagues have used in previous first-year writing classes.

"Social awareness has always been a focus of our writing courses here," she said. "It's just that the circumstances have created a rare opportunity to make some of the subjects truly relevant to our students' lives."

California State University, Northridge has more than 30,000 full- and part-time students and offers 59 bachelor's and 41 master's degrees as well as 28 education credential programs. Founded in 1958, it is the only four-year university in the San Fernando Valley and the third largest in the 23-campus CSU system. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges recently said CSUN "stands as a model to other public urban institutions of higher education."


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