Course offerings show what the administration felt that the students should be learning about. It is therefore interesting to see what countries they decide are worthy of study. The general catalogs provides details of what was on offer. During the 1970s there is most definitely a focus upon communism, which shows Cold War fears in the United States but also a belief that it is something that is important for students to have a detailed knowledge about. This can be seen through offerings in the History Department which had a Sino-Soviet studies major and the Political Science Department once it is created, as well as the Department of Foreign Languages which offers a Russian major. Apart from the focus on Russia which is to some extent obvious both the History and Political Science departments offer courses looking at China, which is discussed in more detail here. The History Department also offered classes looking at the Modern Middle East which is described in the 1979 – 1980 general catalog as
“A survey of the political evolution of the modern Middle East. Emphasis is placed on the impact of Western imperialism, the problems of Arab nationalism, the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the involvement of the Soviet Union and the United States in the Middle East today.”
This is interesting as it is trying to give students an awareness of current day events, this could be considered in reaction to the 1973 Oil Crisis which probably helped to stimulate an interest in the situation in the Middle East and to understand the issues surrounding Israel particularly.
An interesting linguistic shift is that in 1975 – 1976 general catalog it refers to ‘foreign students’ but by the 1979 – 1980 general catalog they are referred to as ‘international students’. This could show a greater awareness of the how to deal with this community, moreover international just sounds nicer foreign brings about connotations of strange.
James Madison University General Course Catalog. Harrisonburg: James Madison University, 1975. Print.
James Madison University General Course Catalog. Harrisonburg: James Madison University, 1979. Print.