One doesn’t think of a ski lodge in the Italian Alps as a center of international terrorism. But for a week in January, it was.
Dr. Joe P. Dunn, Charles A. Dana Professor of History and Politics, and his wife, Jenny, the college accountant and director of Human Resources at Spartanburg Methodist College, were among the 80 participants from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and America selected to attend the week-long ISODARCO Winter Course on Terrorism, Counterterrorism, and Human Rights, held in the quaint northern Italian ski village of Andalo, north of Trento.
ISODARCO (International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflict) has offered Winter Courses on timely topics of war, arms control, and conflict resolution for twenty years. This was the school’s fourth seminar devoted to international terrorism. ISODARCO is the Italian affiliate of the International Pugwash Network on Science and World Affairs. Pugwash conferences, named for the first gathering in Pugwash, Nova Scotia in 1957, assemble experts from around the globe to discuss and formulate proposals on issues of global significance such as war, ecology and environmental issues, human security, international cooperation, and future trends. Recognized as among the world’s most prestigious seminars, Pugwash conferences convene scientists, social scientists, and other scholars and students from diverse cultures to build networks of leadership on vital issues.
This was Joe’s second intensive seminar on terrorism. In July 2006, he participated in the SWOTT (Summer Workshop on Teaching International Terrorism), held at the University of Georgia. He explained, “Throughout my teaching career, I have sought continually to develop new areas of interest and competence and to keep on the leading edge of what students should be exposed to in international relations and world affairs. Today one of the most important issues to bring to the classroom is the subject of international terrorism and counterterrorism.”
Selected from more than 200 applicants, the ISODARCO seminar participants included academics, scholars, practitioners, and a number of graduate students engaged in research on these topics. Each day lively discussions followed the lectures by leading scholars from around the globe. Ad hoc panels and roundtables, assembled by the participants, according to their specific interests and expertise, met in the evenings.
Joe and Jenny found the mixture of faculty and students from places such as Russia, the Peoples Republic of China, Taiwan, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Australia, Turkey, Ukraine, Macedonia, Algeria, Morocco, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Holland, and Denmark provided a rich international diversity of perspectives and opinions. Besides university professors, attendees and presenters this year included members of the European Parliament, a deputy of the Russian duma, the former director of the nuclear weapons program of the Peoples Republic of China, the international legal officer of the UN Mission in Kosovo, and representatives of human rights NGOs. Some of the Russian participants had held high positions in the Soviet Union and now were active in Russian politics. It was fascinating to observe world events interpreted through quite different lenses. Critique of America’s war in Iraq as antithetical to counterterrorism was a common theme.