New UT International Center Focuses on Youth and War

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee’s Center for the International Study of Youth and Political Violence will hold its inaugural seminar on Nov. 7.

The event will bring together some of the world’s foremost experts from Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland and South Africa to discuss the impact of violence on youth in war-torn areas of the world.

The seminar is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Carolyn P. Brown University Center on the UT Campus. The general public registration fee is $29 and covers lunch and parking. Students may attend at no cost.

“Adolescents and War: How Youth Deal with Political Violence” will feature discussions of youth experiences in conflict regions, refugee issues, and the role of non-governmental organizations in meeting youth needs.

The center was founded in 2005 by Brian K. Barber, a UT professor of child and family studies, and one of the world’s foremost experts on political violence and youth.

“Given the degree to which youth around the world are involved in conflict, we know relatively little about their experiences,” said Barber.

The center creates a greater global understanding of the impact of violence on children and their subsequent needs. Barber said he aims to make the center “an authoritative source and training agent for the roles of scholarship, policy, programming and practice to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of youth who are exposed to, or, in many cases, participate in political violence.”

Hundreds of thousands of adolescents are involved at some level in political violence, either as “passive witnesses, voluntary fighters or coerced soldiers,” Barber explained.

Throughout the world, researchers, policy-makers, field workers, clinicians, religious and charitable organizations, and non-governmental organizations are involved actively on behalf of youth in conflicted areas. Barber explains, though, these groups rarely collaborate.

“Professionals are often consumed with their own duties and responsibilities and don’t work with colleagues in other fields,” said Barber. “One of our primary goals with the center is to facilitate conversation and integration between these professionals.”

The November seminar aims to educate the regional community about the goals of the center and the problems youth face in conflicted areas.

“Before you can move forward, you have to know what has happened in the past,” said Barber, who spent more than 10 years documenting the lives and experiences of youth in Gaza, Palestine, and in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

In addition to Barber, seminar speakers include:

• Cairo Arafat, director general of aid management and coordination, Ministry of Planning, Palestine National Authority, West Bank, Palestine

• Ed Cairns, psychology professor, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland

• Pamela Reynolds, anthropology professor, Johns Hopkins University, U.S.

• Neil Boothby, professor of clinical population and family health, director of Program on
Forced Migration and Health, Columbia University, U.S.

• Michelle Slone, psychology professor, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Future annual conferences are planned for the next three years focusing specifically on the Northern Ireland, South African, and Israeli/Palestinian conflicts, respectively. Barber will facilitate the proceedings of these conferences, which will include summaries of the efforts that diverse professional groups made in those specific conflict regions.

“Mainly we will focus on the degree of integration among the professional groups during the conflicts and on their recommendations for how they can better collaborate for the benefit of the youth situation,” Barber said.

Proceedings of the conferences will be published in a monograph series sponsored by the center and will be used to develop a model for integrating efforts, Barber said.

The center’s goals are vital to UT through its focus on global and cultural issues. The center complements UT’s Ready for the World international and intercultural awareness initiative, a comprehensive effort to better prepare students to succeed in a global economy.

“UT and Chancellor Loren Crabtree have put substantial resources behind this center,” said Barber. “It demonstrates our commitment to and involvement in global concerns.”

Online registration for the seminar is available at http:/youthviolence.tennessee.edu

For more information on the conference or the center, visit http://youthviolence.tennessee.edu or contact the center at (865) 974-5316 or youthviolence@tennessee.edu

About the Director – Brian K. Barber is the founding director for UT’s International Study of Youth and Political Violence, professor of child and family studies and adjunct professor of psychology. He serves as a technical advisor to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

He has researched adolescent development in social contexts in Africa, Asia, the Balkans, Europe, the Middle East and North and South America. His research efforts concentrate on adolescent development in the context of political violence — particularly in the Gaza Strip, Palestine, and in Sarajevo, Bosnia. A regular author for leading psychology and family sociology journals, he’s written the book Intrusive Parenting: How Psychological Control affects Children and Adolescents. He is currently completing two books about adolescents and political violence to be published with Oxford University Press and Palgrave/MacMillan Press.

Barber previously has held faculty positions at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.

His work has been funded by the U.S. National Institute for Mental Health, the Social Science Research Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Jerusalem Fund and the U.S. Institute for Peace.


Contacts:
Brian K. Barber, 974-5316 or bbarber1@utk.edu
Beth Gladden, media relations, (865) 974-9008 or (865) 771-1284, beth.gladden@tennessee.edu