Professor lectures on U.N. peacekeeping

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November 12, 2010

12:03 AM

College of William and Mary psychology professor Harvey Langholtz addressed the current state of United Nations peacekeeping efforts worldwide yesterday in a lecture hosted by the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Relations.

Langholtz is a peacekeeping expert with a specialization in U.N. diplomacy and the psychology of peacekeeping and peacekeeping training.

During Thursday night’s discussion, Langholtz focused on the history and current role of U.N. peacekeeping.
Peacekeeping is defined by the United Nations as unique and dynamic instruments developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict create the conditions for lasting peace.

According to the U.N., peacekeepers help facilitate peace processes in post-conflict areas through social, economic and political support.

“Social sciences and psychology should play a more active role in peacekeeping and diplomacy of nations,” he said. “How people relate to each other is important.”

Langholtz proposed that peacekeeping operations increasingly redefine the purpose of the present-day military.

“You can’t have a military solution to a political problem — that will just lead to more war … With the changing complexity of international relations, we need a military that can, yes, fight wars, but also do other things,” Langholtz said.

The role of the modern day soldier is moving increasingly toward that of a peacekeeper rather than that of a traditional combatant, Langholtz said.

“Forward-looking military officials realize the importance of [the changing nature of the role of military],” he said. “Future wars will involve not only meeting with a tank on the battlefield, but also will involve infrastructure, indigenous culture, commerce, government and stability operations.”

Langholtz’s talk was a part of the Reves Coffee Hour speaker series. The series includes a formal presentation, along with informal discussions on global affairs between students, professors and guest speakers. These discussions occur about once a month.

Along with his role as a professor of psychology at the College, Langholtz serves as the director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Programme of Correspondence Instruction. He has also served as a political officer, a member of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

While the event catered to mainly international students who live in Reves Hall, many international relations and government students attended.

“The world is becoming increasingly more global, so I think it’s important for the college-aged generation of Americans to understand International Relations,” Jack Cohen, graduate assistant and Program and Public Events Coordinator for the Reves Center, said. “It’s necessary in this day and age.”

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