Summer 1997

A Worldwide Cause
JMU Professors and Students Help Eradicate Land Mines Through New $521,000 Initiative

James Madison University has received a $521,000 subcontract from the Essex Corp. of Columbia, Md., to assist the Department of Defense in the removal of millions of lethal land mines left in countries throughout the world from wars and conflicts dating back as far as World War I.

As a subcontractor to Essex, JMU's Humanitarian Demining Information Center is to become a global information clearinghouse to assist the military, humanitarian organizations and affected nations increase their self-sufficiency in mine removal. The center, which opened last fall, will provide valid, usable, accessible information with which to plan and coordinate demining.

Alphabet cards, with artwork by Israel Pinto ('97), designed to teach children to stay away from deadly land mines.

Col. Dennis Barlow, JMU's demining center director, calls the Essex-JMU partnership a "win-win-win-win situation. University capabilities are integrated and applied to a great humanitarian cause," he says, "while improving U.S. military posture and strengthening government, commercial and academic ties."

The center coordinates the efforts of approximately 50 students and faculty members from diverse disciplines.

The medical team, led by health sciences head Steven Stewart and Essex Corp. staff members, used JMU students as actors in two short videos. One of the videos, showing how to treat land-mine injuries, was a finalist in the Telly Awards competition for outstanding non-network and cable television, film and video productions, and programming. The medical team also produced a series of drawings showing how to apply tourniquets. The drawings can be silk-screened on a linen scarf that will be kept and worn by people in the field.

Led by Mary Kimsey in JMU's Center for Geographic Information Science, students and faculty members surveyed and modified existing software that helps locate and monitor mine fields so the software can be used more effectively in the field.

JMU's strides into mine awareness have been led by psychologists Anne Stewart, a specialist in clinical psychology, and Lennis Echterling, a noted expert in disaster psychology. Echterling produced a critical stress debriefing report for deploying American troops. Anne Stewart's team has prepared alphabet cards and a comic strip designed to teach children to stay away from deadly mines.

With the help of JMU computer scientist Mark Lattanzi, the Humanitarian Demining Information Center will soon launch three electronic information vehicles. A World Wide Web page will link to other sources of demining information, making available data more accessible. Next, JMU will create an Internet demining index of key topics and words, which will serve as a searchable global source of demining information. And thirdly, the center will publish an electronic journal under the leadership of Peter Hager of the Institute of Technical and Scientific Communication. It will contain information on current demining operational activities that U.S. demining troops, the United Nations and regional players can use to coordinate overall plans.

Political scientist Kay Knickrehm is heading up an outreach program that monitors and responds to the needs of the large and diverse group of participants in the demining community - especially the United Nations and private volunteer organizations such as CARE, Refugees International and the International Red Cross.

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