Thursday September 7, 2006

Sept. 11: Shaping a Generation

On anniversary of Sept. 11, University of Dayton experts speak out on how that day has affected millennials and generation Y.

A MORE DISTANT GENERATION — Mark Ensalaco, an international terrorism expert and associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton, just finished a book titled "History of Middle East Terror From Black September to Sept. 11." Ensalaco has been sought out by CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press and Voice of America, among others. Contact: 937-229-2750, 937-291-1251, 937-229-3257 or 937-229-3391.

"I don't think it shaped a generation. I don't think there is a generation like 9/11 like there was a generation of Vietnam. I think the class of 9/11 was touched by the events, and many of them entered military service. But, as we go further from 9/11, I see that generation becoming more distant. Has this changed our world for our students? I'd say 'no.' If anything, it's made conservative students more conservative and more willing to defer to authority."

A DEFINING MOMENT — Nick Cardilino, director of the Center for Social Concern at the University of Dayton. Contact: 937-229-2576 or

"William Strauss and Neil Howe, America's foremost experts on the different traits of generations, confirm what I have been seeing over the past few years as the Millennials have come to the University of Dayton. One characteristic of this generation is that they are a bit more sheltered by their parents than Gen Xers, but much more willing to trust in authorities than previous generations. I suspect that both 9/11 and the rash of school shootings, such as Columbine, during their childhood have contributed significantly to parents' desires to watch their children more closely and to the Millennials' own desire to be protected.

"After 9/11, Americans of all ages increased their involvement in charity (not only donating money, but also volunteering their time to do community service) and in church attendance. In the five years since, those increases have all receded to near their pre-9/11 numbers, except in the case of Millennials. The students I work with have a very strong sense that they can make a difference in the world through service and that God will keep them safe. I tend to see more of these students than I did 10 years ago."

A WORLD OF HOPE — Sandra Yocum Mize, chair of the religious studies department at the University of Dayton. Contact: 937-229-4321 or

"I think the effects of the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, on young adults remains difficult to judge. One can see in some a commitment to work for a peace rooted in justice. For others it becomes yet one more incident confirming that the only means to ensure survival is through violence. Certainly most have friends or family members who have sacrificed much, even their lives, to fight the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I cannot help but wonder about the effects of what I would describe as extremes -- the collapse of the World Trade Center, the threats of pandemic flu, the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, melting polar caps and, in the background, constant speculation about when and where the next major terrorist attack might occur. Yet in working with students, both undergraduates and graduates, I find myself encouraged by so many with a sincere dedication to service for others and desire to make the world a place of life and light and hope."

A NEED FOR INTERNATIONAL STABILITY — Rev. John Putka, S.M., lecturer in political science at the University of Dayton. Contact: 937-229-2594 or

"Sept. 11 has proved to be a powerful event in the lives of the upcoming generation, but the fact that there have not been more major terrorist events in the United States has tempered the degree of concern and made a 'crisis' atmosphere more difficult to sustain.

"The president has not been very successful in convincing the public that the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq are indeed part of a war against Islamic fascism, yet the struggle is both global and one in which the other side is seeking absolute victory. The possible use of nuclear weapons is just over the horizon, and a terrorist event using a nuclear weapon would dwarf 9/11 and confront the civilized world with the need for an ultimate resolution of the conflict with Islamic fascism. Nothing short of total victory for the civilized world would be required to provide some international stability."

For more information, contact Linda Robertson at (937) 229-3257 or