The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Global matters

Class size reflects growing student interest in foreign affairs

Marking the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11 is a growing sense of how the tragedy has permeated so many aspects of our daily lives, all the way down to the classes students take throughout their college careers.

Class discussions concerning Sept. 11 have become a staple in almost all fields of study, and a heightened interest and motivation to learn is at the forefront of student inquiries concerning foreign affairs.

SMU class enrollment numbers indicate students are choosing different courses because of last year’s events.

Middle Eastern studies, a section included in the university’s history department, has experienced an increase in student enrollment.

Professor Michael Provence was hired before Sept. 11 to teach courses concerning the Middle East. This semester, students interested in discussing last September’s events pack his classes.

The rising number of students enrolled in his classes is not unique to SMU, Provence said. Increased enrollment in similar programs has become a nationwide trend over the past year.

“[Students] are ready to learn and are paying attention to important issues they don’t know about,” he said.

Provence has experienced receptiveness to new ideas in class discussions and coursework.

While Middle Eastern studies might be a more obvious choice for gaining a new perspective on last year’s tragedy, international relations and foreign policy courses are experiencing the same type of increases in enrollment.

“Sept. 11 gets into everything,” said political science professor Cal Jillson. “And it comes up in political science classes all the time.”

Many political science classes have become a laboratory for students to explore a variety of political, social and economic ideas and issues. Lofty, abstract theories have become rooted in real world scenarios.

Political science professor Rhonda Callaway utilizes her expertise in international relations to teach a public policy course during the fall semester. She has noticed a greater awareness of world events on the part of her students.

“There’s definitely a quest for knowledge,” she said. “We’ve been blissfully ignorant for so long. That’s not a critique, just a reality.”

It’s important to step outside the somewhat ethnocentric view of foreign policies and relations, she said.

Callaway encourages her students to achieve greater understanding in a daily forum for making rational and persuasive arguments. Random irrational attacks will not help Americans or anyone else come to an understanding about what brought the United States to its present situation in world politics, she said.

University students have a tangible advantage through their position in academia to foster an increased awareness and understanding about the world around them.

In the words of American writer, poet and critic T.S. Eliot, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.”

Perhaps SMU students’ efforts to understand will contribute to the voice that provides next year’s answers.

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