Must differing civilizations clash? Or can they sometimes combine to harmonious effect? The late Harvard Prof. Samuel Huntington took a dim view of the future with his provocative and possibly predictive “Clash of Civilizations.” The 1996 book posited a gloomy post- Cold War geopolitical world in which the Islamic world would grind up against the Western world as if two pressure-packed teutonic plates braced against each other on the same political fault line.

But a different view would suggest that the Islamic world is as complex and differentiated as any religious or cultural world.  Some evidence for the more optimistic view appeared in a recent virtual classroom created by educational visionaries at the United Arab Emirates University and Loyola Marymount. Using state-of-the-art Internet video technology, the Arab (and largely Muslim) state university and the private (and historically Catholic) LMU launched a joint course together in February that is coming to a close. It linked classrooms in Al Ain, UAE, and Los Angeles to fashion a simultaneous classroom experience for undergraduate students in both schools.Taught from Los Angeles late at night by an LMU professor, to Al Ain where it was early morning, the last joint class on “the media and politics of Asia” is to take place Tuesday/Wednesday 22-23 May.

A short video about what it sought to accomplish was prepared by LMU and can be viewed at: http://alturl.com/tw8gg. The idea for the course originated with UAEU Provost Wyatt R. Hume — a former UCLA and University of California official -and was enthusiastically supported by LMU counterparts David Burcham, the university’s president, and Paul Zeleza, the Bellarmine College dean.