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
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
"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
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."