Behavioral and Social Sciences Symposium planned on Syria

Pitt-Bradford’s Behavioral and Social Sciences Symposium Series will hold a discussion on “The ‘Syrian Situation’: Military, Socio-Religious and Humanitarian/Political Perspectives” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in Rice Auditorium of Fisher Hall. It is free and open to the public. 

            Speakers for the panel are Col. Wes Martin (U.S. Army -- Ret.), former senior antiterrorism/force protection officer for Iraq Coalition Forces; Dr. Tony Gaskew, associate professor of criminal justice at Pitt-Bradford; and Dr. Helma de Vries-Jordan, assistant professor of political science at Pitt-Bradford.

            There will be a question-and-answer session.

            “Syria is not an isolated situation,” Martin said. “What is happening will have long-term consequences for the entire Middle East and the world. Iran is supporting government brutality while Saudi Arabia is supporting recently arrived Sunni extremists. The citizens of Syria are picking up the tab. The United States and Russia have become part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

            De Vries-Jordan said, “The international community needs to attend to the humanitarian crisis that has emerged in Syria and bordering states. Millions of Syrians have become refugees or are internally displaced, with inadequate access to shelter, food, water, sanitation, healthcare, and security, and are vulnerable to malnutrition, illness, violence and human trafficking as winter nears. The United Nations Refugee Agency and international non-governmental organizations are dramatically underfunded and in urgent need of financial support by states in the international community and the global public, to help provide appropriate humanitarian relief to displaced Syrians.”

            This is De Vries-Jordan’s first year teaching at Pitt-Bradford. Previously, she has taught at Gettysburg College, Eastern Connecticut State University and North Carolina State University School of Public and International Affairs. Her most recent research interests include protests surrounding globalization and climate change and media coverage of the conflicts in Sudan.

            Gaskew teaches a variety of courses at Pitt-Bradford, including International and Global Crime, Terrorism in a Post-9/11 World, and Islam and Social Justice. He is a Fulbright-Hays Fellow, an FDD Terrorism Fellow, a Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Research Team Member, and board president of the Consortium for Educational Resources on Islamic Studies. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Egypt and Israel examining the Muslim Brotherhood and structural and political violence.

            For more information, contact Dr. Michael Klausner, associate professor of sociology and director of the symposium series, at 814-362-7627 or

            For disability-related needs, contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services at (814)362-7609 or