Terrorism class brings news into the classroom

by Jessie Ernst

With fall 2006 class registration quickly approaching, students are thinking of all the possible courses they might be interested in. In past years Terrorism 270, a criminal justice course offered at Simpson, has piqued some interest.

According to Simpson’s course description, “the course focuses on the causes and evolution of the terrorist response in the support of social causes.”

Although this is a good overview, Fred Jones, professor of sociology and criminal justice, believes the course goes much deeper.

“One of my real concerns in the class has to do with people demonizing other groups,” Jones said. “I focus a lot on that radical quality [the demonizing quality] that seems to separate us out.”

Jones started the terrorism class shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

“There was a grilling issue among law enforcement with terrorism issues,” Jones said. “The class deals with those issues.”

Jones’ enthusiasm for his class is evident in his bright outlook for the fifth year of the course. He also has high expectations of his students.

“I started this course so they would understand the dynamics of the conflict of the Middle East and why the nature of the violence has taken the path that it has,” Jones said.

Senior Craig Vasquez, a criminal justice major in the terrorism course, agrees with Jones’ reasoning.

“Obviously terrorism is a huge topic in the news, but this course goes a lot deeper than the news,” Vasquez said. “The course sheds light on the fact that terrorism is all over the place.”

The terrorism course has always been popular among students.

“I [took the course because] I had heard really good reviews,” Vasquez said. “It was a big interest.”

Senior Amy Miller explains her motivation for taking the class.

“I took this class because I think that terrorism is an important issue of our time,” Miller said. “I think it is important to understand it and work towards making the world a safer place.”

The course teaches students many aspects of terrorism and then relates those teachings on terrorism to their own life.

Simpson’s course description states the “primary concerns of the course include but are not limited to the trap of ‘tribal’ reactions to social issues, the demoralization of the adversary, historical development of the terrorist response, terrorism in the current social environment and the response to the terrorist challenge.”

Jones said one important concern is stereotyping.

“Since I started the class, I have been interested in making sure people don’t deal with stereotypes,” Jones said.

Through Jones’ teaching, Vasquez understands the topic of terrorism is very much involved in our daily lives.

“It’s very relevant and very much alive,” Vasquez said.