CORVALLIS - Oregon State University will offer a special one-credit course beginning next Tuesday (April 27) that will examine the cultural, historical, political and military factors leading to the Kosovo crisis.

The five-week course, "The Kosovo Crisis in Perspective," is open to the community.

The course will utilize OSU faculty with expertise in the region and draw from a number of outside sources, including military experts, faculty from other institutions, and representatives of various agencies and organizations.

"There are a number of people in the area, including Serbian-Americans and Albanian-Americans, who have very strong feelings about Kosovo," said Kerry Ahearn, an associate professor of English at OSU who is coordinating the course. "But this class will heavily emphasize non-advocacy."

Ahearn, who spent time on a Fulbright fellowship in Macedonia, said the course is designed to provide OSU students and community members with background on the conflict that cannot adequately be covered in the news media.

The OSU course, offered Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m., will open April 27 with an introduction to the conflict. Oregon State faculty members Steve Cook, Jonathan Katz, and Ahearn, and adjunct professor John Braun, will present an overview of the crisis, look at the changing map of the Balkans, and discuss the former republic of Yugoslavia and the people who live in the region.

Future sessions will look at the Kosovo crisis and President Slobodan Milosevic (May 4); the American, NATO and international response (May 11); and the war, including the bombing campaign and humanitarian efforts (May 18). The final session of the course will be a panel discussion among OSU students and other participants looking at the long-term consequences of the crisis (May 25).

"Some of the military experts who will be presenting will literally be changing their lectures on a daily basis," Ahearn said.

The one-credit course, Liberal Studies 408, will cost $120. Persons wishing to attend the lectures but not enroll for the course may do so for a $20 materials fee. Community members interested in signing up for the course may call the OSU Registrar's Office at 541-737-4331, or fill out forms available on the first night of the class. The materials fee for non-credit participants may also be paid on the first night.

The course is modeled after a similar effort by OSU faculty in 1991 called "Understanding the Gulf War." Coordinated by Gordon Matzke, a professor at OSU, it was conceived by Jack Van de Water, dean of International Programs at OSU. The Gulf War course drew more than 400 people.

Van de Water said the need exists for a similar course on Kosovo.

"There are a lot of people in the community, and around the state, who do not understand the situation in Kosovo," said Van de Water. "Their information comes from the news media, which may not provide enough background, or from persons who have an agenda. There is a real need for accurate information about the history, the cultures, and the politics of the region without any advocacy."

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Kerry Ahearn, 541-737-1639