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Contact: Christina Chapple
Date: 1/11/05
 
SOUTHEASTERN LECTURE TO FEATURE DISCUSSION OF PSYCHOLOGY AND TERRORISM
     HAMMOND – Psychology and terrorism will be the initial topic of a new Southeastern Louisiana University lecture series, “Crossroads,” designed to foster communication and collaboration among academic departments.
     Tom Pyszczynski, psychology professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, will present the lecture at 11 a.m. Jan. 19 in the Student Union Theatre. He will discuss how psychology affects general understanding of terrorism and political preferences. 
     The lecture series is sponsored by the Department of Psychology and the College of Arts and Sciences. 
     “Each year we will invite a psychologist whose work interfaces with sister disciplines,” said Al Burstein, head of the Department of Psychology. “In addition to presenting a lecture, he or she will also be available to meet with smaller groups or individuals who want to discuss topics of mutual interest.”
     Pyszczynski teaches a variety of courses in social psychology and directs the psychology department’s honors program. He and his colleagues Jeff Greenberg and Sheldon Solomon developed Terror Management Theory, which helps explain why humans react the way they do to the threat of death, and how this reaction influences their post-threat cognition and emotion. They also wrote "In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror," in which they used Terror Management Theory to analyze the roots of terrorism and American reactions to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.
     Over the years Pyszczynski and his colleagues have explored the role of terror management processes in a wide range of topics including self-esteem, self-deception, prejudice, interpersonal relations, altruism, aggression, sexual ambivalence, disgust, depression, anxiety disorders, unconscious processes, aging, and human development. 
     Pyszczynski is co-editor of the "Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology." He also has published more than 100 scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited books.
     College of Arts and Sciences Dean Tammy Bourg, whose academic background is psychology, said the annual Crossroads lecture will help foster invaluable dialog among Southeastern’s academic departments.
     “Discussion across disciplinary and specialist lines can be extraordinarily stimulating,” she said. “Such interactions could raise provocative and important questions and yield new paradigms that might bear unexpected fruit when transplanted from a different field.”
     “Social problems such as hunger, ethnic violence, and crime are difficult to account for, let alone to deal with constructively, from the viewpoint of any single academic specialty,” said Burstein. “They require interdisciplinary approaches. Given the potential benefits of interdisciplinary discussion it is important to cultivate opportunities for such discussion on our campus.”
     For additional information about the lecture, contact Burstein at 985-549-5539.