Jackall to teach terrorism course

Robert Jackall, professor of sociology and Gaudino Scholar, has created a new course called “Terrorism and National Security” for the Spring 2002 semester.

Described online in the Williams Course Catalog as “an analysis of modern terrorism and its threat to national security,” the course has six main goals. Beginning with a historical and comparative examination of international terrorism, the course will analyze the roots, organization and goals of terrorism against the United States.

The course will also examine military actions taken to extirpate terrorism and the challenges of ensuring public safety in a democratic society.

Finally, the course will study the terrorists’ threats of mass destruction and the role of mass media and propaganda on all sides of the issues.

“The idea for the class emerged directly out of the series of Gaudino Forums on the national crisis sponsored during the fall semester,” Jackall said.

Named in honor of Robert L. Gaudino, the late professor of political science, the Gaudino Fund was “founded to break down the barrier between the ?Ivory Tower’ of the university and the ?real world.’” Its goal is to force students to directly apply what they have read and studied in class to life in the global community.

Since Sept. 11, the Gaudino Fund has sponsored forums related to the atrocities and its domestic and international implications with experts in variety of applicable fields.

This semester, the forum’s topics have included terrorism, Arab perceptions of the war on terrorism, Afghanistan, national defense and civil liberties and Islam.

“The course on Terrorism and National Security integrates into the curriculum the ongoing work of these Gaudino Forums,” Jackall said. “The curriculum is the core of Williams College and is the principal locus to address issues of major national and international significance in a solid intellectual way.”

Jackall has studied terrorism and its components for many years. “I’m a student of terrorism, not an expert in it,” he said.

In the 1990s, Jackall studied in-depth and in the field with several law enforcement agencies including the New York City Police Department, District Attorney of New York, and New York State Supreme Court.

In addition, Jackall has an extensive background in propaganda through a “detailed archival work on propaganda during the First and Second World Wars and out of extensive fieldwork with commercial propagandists in advertising and public relations.”

Over the years, Jackall has taught many courses in areas related to terrorism.

“The focus on terror is a natural extension of my long-standing interest in violence,” Jackall said.

Jackall has taught a number of sociology classes, including Sociology 201 “Violence,” Sociology 215 “Crime in the Streets” and Sociology 307 “Law and Disorder,” which have examined criminal investigations, criminal law, and law enforcement agencies.

Jackall has also taught classes on propaganda, leadership in crisis and social, cultural, and political fragmentation in American society since the mid-1960s.

One unique feature about the course is that it is open to the entire community. Jackall specifically wants to include faculty, staff, and community members in his course.

“The spring course deals with issues that are of paramount concern to the entire community,” said Jackall. “It seems appropriate to open the course to everyone.”

He noted that he was limiting the class size to 60 students “to encourage active participation and to allow space for staff and community people. Inclusion of a wide range of viewpoints can only help stimulate thought,” he said.

Jacob Scott ’04 had two community members in his political science class called “Lying, Deceit and Manipulation” class last fall.

“They brought a hugely useful and significant alternative perspective into class,” said Scott. “We, students, are for the most part as relatively naïve as they come and having someone who experienced World War II or the Vietnam War would be extremely valuable to a class like that.”

Local residents are currently able to audit many classes at the College. However, it is hoped that they will take a more active role in this course.

“[In my class,] they didn’t speak up often, but I’d wish they had spoken up more because their experiences are so much better than ours, as this point,” Scott said.

In addition, Jackall will bring to Williams experts in different fields to help enhance the class as he has done for his other courses.

“I’m currently lining up speakers with specific expertise in different areas for the course.”

According to the Registrar’s Office, Sociology 202 “Terrorism & National Security” is still open. The course will be held Tuesday and Thursday from 11:20 a.m. until 12:35 p.m. in Griffin 6 in the Spring Semester.

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