Oct 022002
Authors: Sheikh F. Shams

CSU employs professors with expertise in the Middle East and southern Asia in several departments, including liberal arts and anthropology.

There has been some discussion about the importance of regional specialists concentrating on the Middle East and South Asia in the nation’s universities as a result of Sept. 11, 2001, the possible war with Iraq and the tensions between India and Pakistan.

A Sept. 7 New York Times article reported the lack of full-time political scientists specializing on these regions in the country’s Ivy League schools. According to the article, Yale has no political scientist on South Asia; Princeton and Stanford lack political scientists on the Middle East.

CSU does not partake in this comparison for various reasons. One reason, for example, is that its instruction is not centered upon graduate studies.

“The controversies in the New York Times’ article are controversies about the graduate and PhD programs. They are controversies about how they can properly train the next generation of experts,” said Robert Hoffert, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “At the undergraduate level, we are not creating the next generation of experts, but we do need to create knowledgeable and well-informed citizens and students.”

Also, CSU doesn’t necessarily fit into the New York Times comparison.

“The New York Times article singled out Stanford, Princeton and Yale. Those are three of the largest political science departments in the country. Each of them has between 50 and 60 regular faculty. In our department, the number is 16,” said Bill Chaloupka, the chair of the political science department. “We are a smallish department trying to cover all of American politics and the rest of the world.”

CSU’s College of Liberal Arts has always prioritized these regions.

“9-11 has had very little effect on us. The reason is we have had a very high priority to enhance our capability more broadly in the world, and most especially in Eastern Asia, Southeastern Asia and Islam. And that commitment and those efforts were initiated long before 9-11,” Hoffert said.

The anthropology department employs two junior faculty members whose expertise relate to Eastern and Southeast Asia.

“We have a relatively junior faculty member who specializes in Islamic history. We have just hired a new faculty member in Southeast Asia,” Hoffert said.

The anthropology department also has Jim Boyd, Grant Lee and Ron Williams, who specialize in Asian religion, and have also recently hired a faculty member in Islamic philosophy.

“In a university like CSU we do not expect every department to have every area covered. We cover each area in collaboration with other departments,” Chaloupka said.

-Edited by Shandra Jordan, Colleen Buhrer and Becky Waddingham

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