Gaudino class, new website continue focus on post 9/11

As a Gaudino scholar, Robert Jackall, Class of 1952 Professor of Sociology and Social Thought, is one of the critical figures in charge of organizing the College’s response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

He has put together numerous Gaudino Forums featuring speakers offering a variety of views on the situation and introduced the course “Terrorism and Society” into the College’s curriculum. Additionally, there is a new website devoted to the various aspects of the Gaudino Fund, integrating information about the Gaudino Forums, past Gaudino scholars and Professor Jackall’s related classes and research.

There are two upcoming Gaudino Forums. The first lecture, entitled “On the Palestinian Struggle and the Middle East Crisis,” will feature Diana Buttu and will take place Monday, Mar. 3 at 8p.m. in Griffin 6.

Buttu is the legal advisor for the Palestine Liberation Organization and, according to Jackall, will “put forth the Palestinian case” to the Williams community.

The second forum, to be held Wednesday, Mar. 5 at 8 p.m. in Wege Auditorium, will be presented by Andrew Bacevich, a former army colonel. Bacevich, according to Jackall, is a “renowned analyst of international affairs from a military standpoint.” “American Empire and Middle East Politics [will be] a cold hard-headed appraisal” of these issues, added Jackall.

Following spring break, the Gaudino Fund will sponsor a variety of speakers, including Michael Dawson ’88, who is the assistant department secretary of the U.S. Treasury in charge of monitoring and financing the War on Terror, and Joseph Bianco, who just resigned as the chief of the terrorism bureau in New York City.

Jackall’s sociology course, “Terrorism and Society,” was introduced last spring as an effort to respond to 9/11 in the College’s curriculum. It is open to all members of the Williams community, including town residents. Currently, almost 60 Williams students are enrolled in the course, along with approximately half a dozen townspeople who regularly attend.

According to Jackall, the course is “an attempt to engage the really hard issues that engage us as citizens.” Throughout the semester, a variety of aspects of terrorism will be discussed, including its history, critical moments, irresolvable issues inherent to terrorism, terrorists themselves and finally the American response to terrorism, specifically through the development of the Department of Homeland Security.

Much of Jackall’s own research is related to the course. In the past, he has studied violence, money laundering, immigration, and identity fraud, all of which have fed into his new research, entitled “The Demonics of Terror and Bureaucracy.” He is currently studying the “relationship between terror and organizational response,” the ways in which terrorists deal with large government bureaucracies, and the response of these bureaucracies to terrorist activity.

Overall, this semester’s course is quite similar to the one Jackall taught last year, although it has been refined slightly and features a different agenda of speakers. Additionally, the insights of students who took the class last year are being utilized by Jackall and even incorporated into some of the course readings.

Jackall plans to continue teaching “Terrorism and Society” in the upcoming years. Also, next fall, he will be teaching a course entitled “New York, New York,” which he says will offer a “kaleidoscopic sociological exploration of the great metropolis” and will also be open to the whole Williams community.

Created by Christine Menard and Jason Taylor, there is now a new Gaudino website, which includes information about the Gaudino Fund, upcoming Gaudino Forums, past and present Gaudino courses and how to conduct further research, which should be a useful resource for the members of the Williams community.