While Bush is addressing Saddam Hussein's humanitarian transgressions with a "shock-and-awe" campaign, Penn professors are addressing the war in a more peaceful atmosphere -- lecture halls.
Different professors have incorporated topics pertaining to the war into their class discussions in a variety of ways, making connections between current events and more typical classroom discourse.
Political Science Professor Nubar Hovsepian began his class "Politics in the Contemporary Middle East" yesterday afternoon by leading a discussion on students' feelings toward war protests.
"Anybody who thinks nobody should be protesting now, raise your hand. Don't worry, you won't be graded on this," Hovsepian said.
Still, not a hand went up.
"I think you can support the troops that are there without supporting the reason they are there," College freshman Jessica Hertle said.
Hovsepian went on to discuss euphemisms, such as "shock and awe," that are used in wartime.
He referred to George Orwell's essay "Conflicts and the English," saying, "Political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible."
The class was scheduled to talk about Iraq this week and next, so the events of Wednesday night fit neatly into the curriculum.
"Many of you after class or in my office want to find out where I am vis-a-vis issues," Hovsepian said.
Though Hovsepian supports the removal of the authoritarian Arab leader, he said, "I am no longer sold on the notion that revolution occurs in one fell swoop."
War discussion may be circumstantial in Hovsepian's class, but talking about soldiers and battlefields is the crux of History instructor Emily Fisher Gray's class, "Writing about the Battlefield Experience."
"It'll come up probably every day," College freshman Stephanie Lynn said. "But we never go into that much depth."
The class addresses the morality of fighting as well as the experience of soldiers during wartime.
Gray related her experience planning yesterday's class discussion of John Keegan's book The Face of Battle.
"Here I'm reading about the experience of the British soldiers on the eve of battle while we have soldiers in Kuwait" in the same position, she said.
The class' topics inevitably relate to current events, but the attack on Iraq Wednesday night does not seem to have accelerated discussions.
"I don't think that's what she meant this class to be," Lynn said.
Regardless, Gray said that the war is extremely pertinent to the class, which includes discussions of obedience and the morality of obeying orders.
"How can you talk about that without these very real issues?" she questioned.
On the other hand, some professors have isolated their discussions of the war.
"Students have paid for their education," Political Science Professor Ian Lustick said after his class "International Politics in the Middle East" yesterday. "The University of Pennsylvania is not at war. If students miss class for political commitments... they will have to make the work up."
Still, Lustick devoted the final half hour of yesterday's class to answering students' questions about the war and sharing his opinions on the situation.
Lustick said this war is disconnected from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but said that "Sept. 11 allowed it to happen" because of people's heightened fear and sense of threat following the catastrophe.
"You have to continue with what the class is intended to address," said College junior Bill Podurgiel, a student in Lustick's class. But he felt that "you do have to focus some time" on the war in Iraq.Comments powered by Disqus
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