March 2, 2007

HARRISONBURG— Dr. Michael G. Wessells, professor of psychology at Randolph-Macon College and professor of clinical population and family health at Columbia University, will speak at James Madison University on “Children as Soldiers: The Threat to Security and the Challenge of Reintegration” on Wednesday, March 21, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. in HHS 2301. The event is free and open to the public and qualifies as a Wellness Passport event for JMU students.

Dr. Wessells, a 1970 graduate of Roanoke College, received his master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of Massachusetts and taught at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, for seven years before joining the faculty at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, in 1981. Since 2005, he has also held an appointment as professor of clinical population and family health in the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University in New York City. He is the author of numerous articles as well as several books on psychology as well as its application to policy concerns.

Since 2005, in addition to numerous international and national professional and civic leadership roles, Dr. Wessells has been co-chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee Task Force on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings as well as an advisor to former President Bill Clinton on psychosocial issues regarding the post-tsunami recovery effort.

Dr. Wessells has conducted research in over thirty countries around the world on child care and protection programs, focusing in recent years on the phenomenon of child soldiers. His research is conducted in partnership with the Christian Children’s Fund, which he serves as a senior child protection specialist. His most recent book, the product of this extensive field work, is Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection (Harvard University Press, 2007). In a review in the forthcoming spring 2007 issue of the Wilson Quarterly, Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute, hailed the book as “ the best general introduction published to date on the role of children in modern warfare” as well as “a salutary reminder of what must—and can—be done to end this tragedy.”

Dr. Wessells’s presentation is part of the Guardian Lecture Series sponsored by the Nelson Institute. In addition to his public lecture, Dr. Wessells will lead a Nelson Institute roundtable discussion with JMU faculty.