Report on the University of Delaware Teach-In


Our teach-in, organized by four history faculty members, was held in a 50-person classroom that was more than full during the entire two hours. 


Choosing from the Historians Against the War list, we invited David Farber from the Temple University history department; our other main speaker was Kenneth Campbell, of the University of Delaware political science department.  Peter Kolchin, of our own department, served as a facilitator, pointing out the major themes of their talks; Susan Strasser acted as chair of the session.  Our flyers asked “Why Are We At War in Iraq?” and promised plenty of time for discussion. 


Some activists showed up (one from the Green Party and a handful from a weekly peace vigil that starts on campus), along with a few vocal but polite pro-war speakers.  Most of the audience seemed serious, intent on learning something, and appreciative of the opportunity to talk about the war on a normally quiescent campus.  Farber offered an analysis framed by a brief history of the Persian Gulf region between World War I and 1979; Campbell, a longtime VVAW activist, discussed material from his forthcoming book on Vietnam and Iraq as quagmires.  The discussion that followed their 20-minute talks raised a wide range of questions. 


We distributed flyers to faculty in a number of departments; students from the campus civil liberties organization co-sponsored so that we could use university bulletin boards, and they did the posting; one of our organizers spread the word at the weekly vigil, and some of those people helped with further publicity.  The campus paper ran an article on the teach-in and also an editorial, reprinted below.


Susan Strasser, <>

History Department



[The following editorial appeared in the October 24, 2006 issue of the University of Delaware’s student newspaper, The Review.]


Iraq debate good for students

Teach-in builds conversation among univ. community



This week professors around the country joined in a discussion about the War in Iraq.  As part of a nationwide Teach-in, arranged by the Historians Against the War, professors and students engaged in conversation about the current political issue. The university was a proud member of that nationwide group.


In a throwback to the 1960s and 1970s, when college students fought for change in society, the university community joined together to discuss a common cause. Rather than preach the "No Blood for Oil" rhetoric that comes from many war protesters, students and professors brought up relevant and varied ideas as to how to approach the situation.


Most importantly, students were introduced to the history of the war-torn country. An issue not usually discussed when debating the war, Iraq's history is a driving force behind the current conflicts.


One of approximately 40 schools, the university actively discussed a movement brewing under the surface of institutions nationwide.


As part of the teach-in, professors actively shared methods they would use for effective protesting. It is these professors who fought for change some 35 years ago that should be heard and taken seriously. This teach-in did just that.


Yet, students need to make sure that they do not come off as apathetic toward issues as their professors are the only ones expressing their opinion. Students should not be afraid to take the lead on such protests or teach-ins. Organization of such rallies would go a long way in proving to the government that its citizens desire change.


More than simply joining a Facebook group against the war, these students should actively voice their opinion and share ideas that might not have been considered by these professors.


This was one of hopefully many future debates that can open the university up to at least discussing the current situation.


The recent lack of conversation about the war is shocking. Hopefully this teach-in will go a long way in building that conversation among students.