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image: Campus NewsIn a time of uncertainty, U of C scholars search for perspective
Three weeks after the September 11 attacks on the U.S., a group of students assembled in the Ida Noyes library to try and make sense of it all. They gathered to hear about the challenges of recovering economically from events they were still engaging emotionally. Grace Tsiang, AM'83, PhD'91, senior lecturer in economics, spoke of the healing of the American economy, but she was really talking about the healing of America.

PHOTO:  At International House, a packed room for a panel on terrorism

As the uncertainties of recent months left many shocked, confused, and looking for answers, University scholars-in true Chicago style-tried to provide some. Conferences, lectures, and teach-ins were quickly organized and lasted throughout the anthrax scare and the war in Afghanistan.

Tsiang's speech was followed on October 4 by a heavily attended conference hosted by International House, "9/11: Its Causes and Consequences," with panels such as "Beyond the Clash of Civilizations," "Backlash in America," and "Political Uses of Religion." University provost Geoffrey R. Stone, JD'71, noted in his opening remarks that the conference fell on the anniversary of I-House's founding in 1932, highlighting the importance of being part of an international community. The conference became an ongoing series of panels through the fall.

Close to 400 people attended a GSB-sponsored event on October 17 at the Gleacher Center. Edward Snyder, AM'78, PhD'84, dean of the business school, moderated a panel of GSB professors who tried to diagnose the U.S. economy's future. "Uncertainty puts people in precautionary mode," said Kevin Murphy, PhD'86, the George Pratt Schultz professor of economics and industrial relations, "which makes for a natural digression in consumption and spending." The panelists generally agreed, however, that short-term effects would quickly be overcome by long-term strength. "Our prediction," said Gary Becker, AM'53, PhD'55, professor in economics and sociology, "is that the economy will be back to where it was before, barring any major event that can't be predicted." A week later another Gleacher Center crowd turned out to hear scholars from Chicago and Northwestern to discuss terrorism and politics in an event hosted by the alumni association (click here for the video).

Meanwhile the 22nd annual Humanities Open House went on as scheduled in late October, with an additional roundtable to address how humanistic inquiry can help people reflect on recent events. More tailored commentary was seen throughout October and November in lectures by visiting speaker Tahmena Faryal, an Afghan women's-rights activist; assistant professor of divinity Saba Mahmood, who spoke on feminism and the Taliban; and Richard Salsman, an economist invited by the student Objectivist Club, on the appeasement of terrorism.

In November Sigma Phi Epsilon, the fraternity that sponsored Grace Tsiang's lecture, held another program, at which University president Don M. Randel gave the talk "Higher Education in the Wake of September 11." Randel reassured students of the importance of continuing their education in the midst of current world-changing events. "Higher education is the single best system that mankind has yet devised with which to attack suffering and ignorance," the president said, "and you will be the people who carry on that great attack. We are counting on you."
- C.S.


 


  DECEMBER 2001

  > > Volume 94, Number 2


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Wealth of notions
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The remains of the day
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A new Chicago seven
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Beyond the bomb
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The life and tomes

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