It is now six months since the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. How should academics respond to these dramatic events? The challenge has been taken up by the University's Centre of International Relations who are developing a research programme to address the issues.

Over 30 people, representing different departments and faculties of the University, first discussed the scope of the new Cambridge 21st Century Programme at a meeting earlier in the year. They were invited to respond to an opening welcome by Professor James Mayall, Director of the Centre, who stressed the importance of a University-wide response to the events of 11 September not narrowly confined to the question of military security.

Dr Paul Cornish, a former member of the Centre but now at the Centre of Defence Studies, Kings' College, London, took up this theme, describing how a multi-faceted, multi-level response was needed which would address religious, cultural, radical and developmental issues beyond the traditional boundaries of international security. Terrorism is linked to economic deprivation and a general rise in violent crime. Legal issues surrounding national sovereignty have to be addressed to justify humanitarian intervention and protect human rights. Whilst business seems relatively resilient to risk, the rise in financial and cybercrime posed daily problems for the banking sector and major corporations.

Developing a programme of this nature will require input from departments as different as the Faculty of Divinity and the Judge Institute of Management, supported by Social and Political Sciences, Social Anthropology, Criminology, Engineering, the Natural Sciences and Computing.

Peter Cavanagh, Director of the feasibility study for the Programme, believes that it is vital to involve external institutions to create an international network of universities, government policy centres and non-governmental organisations able to share ideas and experience across a broad range of issues.

Cambridge's reputation in the international research community makes its contribution particularly important. Most important, is its contribution to the international community, helping others to deal with the uncertainties and threats of a global environment.

PhD students from the Centre of International Studies and from other University departments are now researching the response of other comparable institutions to the world-changing events. Meanwhile Louis McCagg, who initiated the Programme, is talking to as many interested people as possible within the University to assess the level of support, and the ideas of those who want to become involved.

These ideas will be discussed at a Programme launch meeting on Tuesday 21 May which will be attended by the Vice-Chancellor. The meeting will take place from 4.30 to 6.30pm at the McCrum Lecture Theatre, Corpus Christi College. Wine and refreshments will be served afterwards.

Please telephone 01223 742073 or e-mail Louis McCagg on if you wish to attend the meeting or would like more information about the Programme.

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