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October 25, 2001
Vol. 28, No. 12


The politics of interpreting Islam

UT scholars: World events challenge journalism ethics

Archer Fellows serve in Washington, D.C.

ExxonMobil gives $158,500

UT staffer gives $700,00 for scholarships

UT team seeks to save Ukraine historic site

Inaugural D. Harrington Symposium Nov. 2

Longhorn Halloween Oct. 28

Dr. Laura Flawn dies in collision

UT's bell ringer making music for nearly 50 years

Professor Jaime Delgado dies

UT grad students empowered in wake of Sept. 11 tragedy

UT researchers discover wood pulp replacement

UT engineers unlock defense body's protectve systems

New process detects cancer's ability to spread

Dr. Wood leads team in $80 million quake study

Undergrad biomedical engineering program created

FACTS brochures available

Faculty Council

News Briefs


Hearts of TX Campaign ends Oct. 31

UT book de-mystifies directing




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ON CAMPUS is published by the Office of Public Affairs for The University of Texas at Austin community. Publication is monthly during the academic year, except holiday periods. Text from On Campus may be reprinted as long as credit is given.

The politics of interpreting Islam: Freshman course on Muslim culture strives to separate religious faith from acts of terrorist perpetrators

It's unfortunate that it's taken the events of Sept. 11 and the terrorism crisis for America to realize the importance of understanding Islam, say University of Texas at Austin students who have been studying the Muslim culture since classes began in August.

students in seminar course
Photo by Marsha Miller
From Left: Ibrahim Siddiqui, Ali Samee and Karim Jamal, students in a freshman seminar course titled "The Foundations of Classical Islamic Culture," participate in a discussion about Muslim culture. Fifteen students are enrolled in the three-hour seminar.

In a freshman seminar on "The Foundations of Classical Islamic Culture," the 15 students and their professor — Dr. Akel Kahera — say they are making every effort to separate the faith of Islam from the acts of the terrorist perpetrators.

Muslims make up one-fourth of the world population and are an ever growing part of the American population, said Alia Khan, a business major from Austin. "Thus, it's important that the rest of America understands what our religion is truly about — especially when the current misconceptions are so negative and dangerous in nature," she said.

The need to understand Islam is much more urgent in light of recent events, Khan said. "Americans need to understand the terrorists are a very select group of people with very extreme views," she said.

Kahera, a university faculty member in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, said the politics of interpreting Islam is complex and cannot be done with "sound bites."

"Students want to know and understand why Islam, a religion which advocates peace, and Muslims, who adhere to its teachings, are portrayed in the media in such a negative manner," said Kahera. "Students complain that media experts make too many instant generalizations and use too many cliches such as 'fatalism,' 'holy war' and 'Muslim terrorist.'"

FULL STORY          

Breakthrough diagnostic process detects cancer's ability to spread

Motivated by the cancer deaths of several friends and family members, a University of Texas at Austin scientist has developed technology to help doctors detect cancer and determine whether cancer cells are capable of spreading to other parts of the body.

The technology, known as the Optical Cell Stretcher, was invented by university biophysicist Josef Käs and is being developed by Evacyte Corp., an Austin biotechnology firm created to commercialize the pioneering diagnostic process.

Renee Mallett, The University of Texas at Austin’s associate director for technology licensing and intellectual property, said in addition to owning equity in Evacyte, the university and its College of Natural Sciences will receive royalties from the sale of Optical Cell Stretcher technology.

Käs, an associate professor of physics and researcher in the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics, became interested in cancer diagnosis and treatment when a series of friends and family members unsuccessfully battled the disease over the course of several years.

"Being a physicist and something of a geek, I did what I always do when confronted by a problem," said Käs. "I read."

Käs learned that while there have been remarkable advances in cancer therapy, the death rate has not changed significantly because many cancers are detected when they are too advanced to respond to treatment. Early detection has been elusive because on the molecular level, cancer actually is more than 100 diseases. Developing techniques to detect all these diseases is overwhelmingly complex and costly.

FULL STORY          


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UT scholars: World events challenge ethics of journalism profession

In the initial days following the Sept. 11 tragedy, media representatives did an excellent job covering "spot news," but now need to be careful to find middle ground in their reporting, say two University of Texas at Austin journalism professors.

With the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., there is a new factor that affects news coverage — the personal attack on American soil, said Dr. Stephen Reese, director of the School of Journalism.

"This raises the stakes and makes it even harder to entertain political views outside the narrow mainstream," said Reese. "The media 'frame' of the events began to narrow quickly after the first week. Now, it is 'America Fights Back' or 'America Responds.' Combining this framing with the patriotism invoked by news organizations makes clear policy analysis more difficult."

Reese, who co-authored a study after the Persian Gulf War on The Militarism of Local Television: The Routine Framing of the Persian Gulf War, said he finds it particularly objectionable for news organizations such as NBC to cast its peacock in red, white and blue. "This is reminiscent of television news anchor desks literally wrapped in the American flag during the Gulf War," he said.

Dr. Don Heider, who teaches television reporting and producing at the university, agrees that some journalists are promoting patriotism rather than covering it.

FULL STORY          

University team seeks to save historic site in Ukraine

A little-known, but major, archaeological site just outside of Sevastopol, Ukraine, has been added to "The List of 100 Most Endangered Sites" alongside the Valley of the Kings in Luxor and the Great Wall of China.

On the coast of the Black Sea, in the southern part of Ukraine, lies the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos, a site that has been home to ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine cultures, as well as the location of historic battles in modern history. The list, released in October by the World Monuments Fund, designates sites that urgently need preservation and conservation.

FULL STORY           


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