With an event as historic as Sept. 11, 2001, academics across the country were bound for a turn. They did after World War II and the Vietnam War.
The first layers of change were easy to see on the UC Berkeley campus. Enrollment in courses about the Middle East and Islam spiked, and just last year a record 100 students completed a two-semester Arabic sequence.
Money poured into UC Berkeley's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, prompting the center to offer new research grants and courses.
But outside the classroom, it remains unclear what the heightened interest in the Middle East and terrorism means for research across disciplines.
"This is a state of becoming. It isn't gelled," said Robert Price, associate vice chancellor for research. "Right now, much of this is talk."
Although professors have not faced a complete overhaul in the research process, many said initiating research in areas such as engineering and the biological sciences remains caught up in a lot more red tape.
Federal anti-terrorism efforts have brought about increased regulations that require more paperwork and longer background checks.
Scientists have also considered limiting publication of research that may be considered a threat to national security.
Increased funding—including the promised federal funds for Homeland Security development—means more opportunities but also increased competition.
One of the lingering concerns on campus is the USA PATRIOT Act, which contains many provisions that could restrict university employment of foreign postdoctoral scholars.
Already, a few postdoctoral students and professors have been held up in other countries because of delays in visa approval from the United States.
More than 55 percent of UC Berkeley postdoctoral scholars are foreign nationals, Price said.
Emily Gottreich, vice chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, believes that these changes are eroding civil liberties such as academic freedom.
Further fueled by America's poor reputation abroad, the changes limit field research opportunities in the Middle East.
"Attempts to censor rather than engage in open debate are flagrant," Gottreich said.
Amid concerns over academic freedom, professors have had to move beyond their roles on campus.
"It forced people to step outside the university to be public figures in all sorts of public forums. There's much more social relevance," said political science professor Darren Zook.
But an evolving academic culture is perhaps nothing new, said Christina Maslach, vice provost of undergraduate education.
"Courses and teaching in universities are always shifting, evolving, changing, curriculum," Maslach said. "You'll see that reflected in teachers and researchers. That kind of evolution is a natural process."