Degree discussed

Terrorism Studies pathway shelved

The Los Medanos College Academic Senate considered the possibility of integrating a Terrorism Studies pathway under the Social Justice degree program at its April 25 meeting.

In a press release brought before the senate by Academic Senate President Silvester Henderson, security expert Mia Bloom, a professor at Georgia State University, explained that following 9/11, academia has seen a demand for programs and professors in the field of terrorism. Bloom, a researcher on the effects of extremist groups like ISIS on children, notes that college and university administrators are creating Terrorist Studies programs to remain relevant and to respond to student interest in the subject.

The prospect of developing the degree at LMC received a lukewarm response from faculty.

Biological science professor Mark Lewis drew a parallel to his time at UC Berkeley when it tried to adopt a War Studies program 35 years ago, which was ultimately retooled to be the Department of Peace Studies. The argument he sympathized with at the time being, “college should focus on the positive aspects of human knowledge rather than the negative.”

Academic Senate Vice President Janith Norman echoed the ethical concern.

“If we are going to be educators, do we become educators in terrorism as well?” she asked.

Another voice of concern about the ethics and feasibility of courses in terrorist studies was featured in the press release presented to the senate by Nasser Weddady, an activist who helped train Arab Spring activists and now studies radicalization and its use of social media.

“There’s a lot more pop culture being produced than serious academic works that are actually enlightening our knowledge of the problem,” he said. “Experts shouldn’t come from the Ivory Tower, but from the communities where terrorist groups are sprouting around the globe.”

In the post 9/11 world, jobs ranging from corporate security to analysts in federal and national governments around the world are readily available to those with a master’s degree in terrorism studies. Academic ethics aside, as the growth of terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram continue to make headlines and establish a permanence in the geopolitical landscape, Terrorism Studies may prove to be a practical field of study for some college students looking for the next untapped, well-paying job market.

For now, members of the senate appeared content to acknowledge the existence of Terrorism Studies as a legitimate college program but did not commit one way or another to beginning such a program at LMC.

In a related field however, political science professor Dave Zimny said he has already submitted an outline for LMC to begin offering an associate’s degree in political science he hopes will be up and running by the fall 2017 semester.

Academic Senate President Silvester Henderson said that the senate would likely revisit the possible integration of Terrorism Studies at LMC in the future, but under another concentration of study. LMC students have the opportunity to request senate time to make a presentation if they feel strongly for or against the prospect of Terrorism Studies on campus. Silvester Henderson can be contacted at [email protected] for any further information.