After Christmas break, some students at ELCA colleges will return to find opportunities to explore and process the events of Sept. 11.
"There's still a need for students to talk," says Ellen Hay, dean of academic services at Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill. That's why students there began a 10-week term after Thanksgiving that includes three one-hour classes: understanding the religious and historical dimensions of the events of Sept. 11; fundamentalism and the modern world; and bioterrorism.
Terry Sparkes, head of the religion and philosophy department at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, says she's seen an increasing interest in Islam among students for years. Luther offers a January topics class on religion and the Middle East conflict and two classes on the philosophies of war and peace.
Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., added a January class about Islam and culture and one on terrorism taught by a sociology and anthropology professor.
"Most of our students' exposure to Islam is stereotypes and sound bytes," says Mark Mattes, head of the religion department at Grand View College, Des Moines, Iowa. "[Sept. 11] has certainly pushed our students to do a lot of spiritual reflection, critical thinking and social inquiry."
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