Lessons and Syllabuses

Arab World and Islamic Resources and School Services in Berkeley, CA, offers an array of books for students from middle school through college about Islam and the Arab World: http://www.dnai.com/~gui/awairproductinfo.html. The site is both a good source of materials and a helpful bibliography.

Three courses at the University of Colorado address aspects of the geopolitics of Southwest Asia (the Middle East) and the rise of non-state forms of political power:

  1. Jim Russellís World Regional Geography Course (Geog 1982) (http://spot.colorado.edu/~jrussell/) attempts to understand world regions in a manner adequate to the post Cold War World. Jim argues that most World Regional textbooks still rely on outmoded Cold War understandings of the world. As part of this, Jim has worked with his students to understand the events of 11 September in light of changing geopolitical power in the world. In addition to the overall outline of the course, you may see Jimís annotated outline from his lecture on the day after the attack here.
  2. Paul Talbotís Human Geographies (Geog 1992) (http://www.colorado.edu/geography/courses/geog_1992/index.html). Paul has put links on the first page to three different sites. The first is a site that provides ìstrategic intelligence briefings. It provides a mind-boggling and instrumentalist analysis of what is at stake here and is best read as a look into the eye of power. The second is a brief run-down of the CIAís role in creating Osama bin Laden. The third is a discussion of why the US and how US military and intelligence organizations have trouble knowing what is happening ìon the ground. This last is in and of itself a critical geography.
  3. John OíLoughlinís Geographies of Global Change (Geog 2002) (http://www.colorado.edu/geography/courses/geog_2002/). Powerpoint outlines and pictures can be found in the ìCourse Materials section of this website. He discusses the rise and ideologies of the Taliban in Lecture 15.

Matt Hannah at the University of Vermont gave this assignment to students in his Geography of Race and Ethnicity in the US course (Geog 60). The assignment asks students to critically examine the geography of Arab-Americans and anti-Muslim harassment and violence in the US. Matt makes a number of important points about the complexity of Arab and Muslim identity in the US. The goal of the exercise is to help students see just how horrifying and degrading the demonization of ìa people can be.

Audrey Kobayashi of Queen's University provides a set of ideas for teaching tolerance and combating intolerance in the classroom in the wake of the attacks. Writing on behalf of the Human Rights Office at Queen's University, Audrey points out that it is "sometimes necessary to go beyond simply non-discriminatory or non-racist approaches to take a proactive stand that is anti-racist."

Tim Brunell at the National University of Singapore worked with his cultural geography class to understand the powerful symbolism of landmark buildings. Here he outlines some of the resources and ideas he used in his class. He also enters a plea for mitigating the "anglo-american centeredness of Geography (and cultural geography in particular)" because such a centeredness makes it harder to undertake the more "sustained engagement with cultural political processes beyond the US" that is so necessary.

Michael Albert and Stephen Shalom have developed a series of talking points that in and of themselves provide an outline for a series of geographic analyses and courses on the attack, its roots, and its consequences. They can be found on Z-Net at: http://www.zmag.org/qacalam.htm.

Jim Glassman from Syracuse University offers this timeline of the Israeli-Palestine conflict and related events. It provides an excellent overview of (mostly) 20th century history and geography.

Karen Morin from Bucknell University developed this lesson on the symbolism of the attack sites for her 2nd year Cultural Geography course. She provides suggestions of readings and structured the class around understanding how the changing symbolism of the skyscraper before and after the attack helps us ìsee ìhow and why U.S. foreign policy might be justifiably disliked and even hated by numerous actors around the world.

The New York Times has a learning network that has lesson plans for grade 6-12.

The 11 September attacks continue to reverberate in many ways. As has often been the case in US history, civil liberties and the right to free speech are shown to be very fragile at times like these. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the chilling climate developing on many campuses. The Chronicle's summary follows. The link is to the full article. "The World Trade Center attacks have led to much debate and discussion in classrooms, but some professors have clashed with students and others have been suspended by their institutions for remarks they have made during lectures and speeches at vigils. The Chronicle of Higher Education's Robin Wilson and Ana Marie Cox report on these instances: http://chronicle.merit.edu/free/v48/i06/06a01201.htm

Zoltan Grossman has compiled a stunning timeline of US military actions over the past century (and a bit). In and of itself it is an invaluable teaching tool. The time line is called, From Wounded Knee to Afghanistan.

The Syracuse University Division of Academic Affairs and Division of Student Affairs has created a set of Talking Points related to the 11 September attacks. The main focus of these talking points is the presentation of facts about Islam, Arab-Americans, and Osama bin Ladenís ideology. They are written at a level particularly appropriate for middle and secondary school students. (There is also much information specific to Syracuse in this document, some of which may nonetheless be useful to non-locals).

The Teachers College Record an on-line journal will be publishing special collections of essays related to the attacks of 11 September. The call for papers can be found here. TCRecord will eventually be an invaluable resource for students and teachers alike.

The American Arab Anti Discrimination League has created a very valuable bibliography of materials on Arab Americans, discrimination against Arabs, and the Arab World and Islam. This bibliography includes lesson plans, childrenís books, videos, and academic studies.