Bullying in schools, aggression in the workplace, violence against women – all are complex problems whose eradication depends on cooperation among teachers, police, researchers, policymakers, and others. On Nov. 12 and 13, Virginia Tech hosts a gathering of people from all of those categories to confer, debate, and make recommendations about violence prevention.
The keynote lecture is free and open to the public. Dan Olweus of the University of Bergen in Norway, the world’s leading expert on bullying among young people, will discuss documented ways to reduce bullying in schools. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is used in schools across Europe and the United States, including in the Montgomery County school system. The lecture is Nov. 12, 7 p.m., at the Inn at Virginia Tech.
The summit is called the International Summit on Transdisciplinary Approaches to Violence Prevention.
Workshop participants are drawn from academia, the military, law enforcement, and other walks of life.
Leading experts on violence prevention involved in the summit include
- Felton Earls of Harvard Medical School, a professor of psychiatry and expert on the consequences of children's exposure to urban violence;
- Linda Langford of the U.S. Department of Education, an expert on suicide prevention and violence prevention at colleges and universities;
- Col. John Metz, a 1982 Virginia Tech distinguished military graduate and counterterrorism expert whose leadership roles in the U.S. Army include Operation Just Cause in Panama and Operation Iraqi Freedom;
- John Monahan of the University of Virginia, an expert in psychology, psychiatry, and law who is a published author on risk assessment and predicting violent behavior; and
- Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania, an expert on antisocial and violent behavior and a researcher in neuropsychology.
“So many of the solutions to violence involve people communicating from different disciplines – the cop talking to the psychologist, for example,” said Jerzy Nowak, founding director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention. “A summit like this linking research to the practical world is a contribution to creating a safer society.”
Virginia Tech faculty and staff involved in the summit include
- Gene Deisinger, deputy chief of the Virginia Tech Police Department and Virginia Tech’s threat management director;
- James E. Hawdon, professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Sociology;
- Tom Ollendick, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and director of the Child Study Center; and
- Karen Roberto, professor and director of the Center for Gerontology and director of the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment.
For more information about the summit, please contact Marc Lucht of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, (540) 231.2157.
The summit is sponsored by Joseph R. Cobbe, Toy Lacy Cobbe, and The Lacy Foundation. Both alumni have degrees from Virginia Tech: Joseph Cobbe has a bachelor’s in business administration, and Toy Cobbe has both a bachelor’s and master’s in clothing, textiles and related arts.
In a statement, the Cobbes said, “After the horror of April 16, 2007, we believed that something good had to come from such a life-changing event. We wanted to be a part of an effort that would use this tragedy to create a better understanding of what causes such unthinkable violence and how this understanding might be used to prevent such actions in the future. Out of our discussions with Tech officials came the idea of a center for peace studies and violence prevention that would, among other things, sponsor an international summit to consider how violence might be prevented. We are pleased that we can be a part of this effort and are hopeful that its outcome can contribute to the understanding and prevention of violence and the promotion of peace.”
Soundbites can be found online featuring Nowak, Lucht, and the president of Virginia Tech’s Students for Nonviolence (Sophia Teie of Fairfax, Va., a senior majoring in psychology in the College of Science).