Insight into Deeply-Rooted Conflicts Is Goal of Sept. 11 Course

Posted: June 26, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

“Wars happen [according to philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau] because no mechanism exists to prevent them,” Dennis Sandole tells the group of students taking War, Violence, and Conflict Resolution, one of the special summer courses that examines repercussions of the events of Sept. 11. In protracted conflicts, few people deal with the underlying start-up conditions because few delve deep enough to find them, says Sandole, a professor of conflict resolution and international relations in the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR). “We are dealing with symptoms because that is all we see.”

In this summer version of the class, offered for the first time this year, Sandole leads seven graduate students through an examination and discussion of the theories of violence and its causes and conditions. The group applies these theories to issues of family abuse, religious and ethnic violence, terrorism, revolution, and warfare, and ultimately students will use their resulting insights to propose ways to resolve deep-rooted conflicts, including the ones that spawned terrorism on American soil.

The class is characterized by lively discussions that incorporate a range of international examples and issues from the Sept. 11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, Serbia, Vietnam, and World War II. National topics include Los Angeles gangs, divorce, racism, and American Indians. The men and women in the group stretch across religious, ethnic, and occupational divides to bring a diversity of viewpoints to each discussion. All have taken courses from ICAR before, either as part of a graduate program or an extended studies program.

The summer version of the course is nearly the same as the one offered in the fall and has similar student characteristics, says Sandole, but the fall class size is typically 10 to 25 students. As a result of the events and aftermath of Sept. 11, the syllabus and discussions are different for the summer course and will also change in the fall.

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