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From the moment the Twin Towers fell, 9/11 was seen as a turning point in American history, a dawning of the age when its citizens would no longer enjoy what Franklin Roosevelt called “freedom from fear.”

And because the event itself was such a spectacle—like something out of Hollywood—it seemed a safe bet to assume it would have a spectacular effect on the course of American politics and international affairs.

With the perspective of five years, we are now in a position to assess: to what extent did 9/11 change our world, and how well have we as a society adjusted to these changes? What further steps should be taken to enhance the nation’s recovery?

Our faculty participants, from a wide range of disciplines, also provide a wide range of responses, ranging from the thought that it is too early to call September 11 a watershed, to the idea that it changed everything. It seems that, just as we have yet to rebuild Lower Manhattan and contemplate a new Manhattan skyscrape, we have yet to come to terms with 9/11's long-term significance: five years on, it is still a matter of hot debate.

Mary-Lea Cox, editor

Video Feature
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Elazar Barkan, professor of international and public affairs and co-director of the human rights concentration at SIPA, argues that the greatest casualty of 9/11 has been the militarization of public policy. In his view, the only way forward is to "engage nonstate actors and bring them into the conversation."

New York City
Grace Christ
Mary Marshall Clark
Peter Marcuse

American Politics
Todd Gitlin

National Security
Reid Sawyer

International Politics
Elazar Barkan


AT ISSUE is a series of features in The Record and on the web, intended to gather viewpoints from faculty and staff on current news topics.

Published: Aug 25, 2006
Last modified: Sep 29, 2006