GC’s Harrod Presents at an International Conference

Seville, Spain – Dr. Ryan Harrod’s recent “working vacation” in Spain placed a pretty strong emphasis on the work component. Garrett College’s chief academic officer took part in two conference presentations at the 2022 Warfare, Environment, Social Inequality, and Pro-Sociability (WESIPS) Conference on June 1-3 at the University of Seville.

Harrod co-presented with Anna Osterholtz on the topic of Embodying Warfare: Anthropological Analysis of Warrior Identity in the Past and Present. He was then part of a four-member team whose topic was Massacres and Ontological Insecurity: Cultural and Environmental Crises.

Harrod said he previously co-authored with conference organizer Richard Chacon regarding “the importance of studying violence.” He has been publishing works on the topic of violence for over a decade, noting, “you do a disservice to people who have suffered violent interactions if you’re unwilling to discuss the topic.”

The presentation with Osterholtz focused on “what happens when you become a soldier,” noting that “the removal from normal society” can often lead to challenges when soldiers must transition back into mainstream society.

“Soldiers, as well as warriors from earlier times, have to be in a different state of mind to perform their duties,” noted Harrod. “It takes a lot of repetitive drilling, embracing of an identity change, conformity to the group, forming associations with other group members, rituals that must be performed. It’s an involved process.”

Harrod said the use of younger soldiers and warriors goes beyond the physical attributes of youth.

“You want to make people soldiers younger rather than older because you can mold them and change them,” said Harrod.

While there has been a raised awareness of the challenges of transitioning from soldier back to civilian since the Vietnam War, Harrod said the associated challenges go much further back in human history.

“Sometimes it’s hard to reintegrate back into society. . . past warriors lived on the fringes of the group,” said Harrod. “The situations soldiers face changes a person. Warriors have to be in a different state of mind.”

Harrod conducted the second presentation with Debra Martin, Emily Edmonds, and Cristina Freiberger.

“We were looking at massacres in the past and argued that it’s a complicated subject,” said Harrod. “These events don’t generally happen randomly – if you can identify the inequalities involved, you can mitigate factors that lead to massacres.

“People do these things based on ideological belief systems,” added Harrod, saying witch killings were a perfect example. “You get rid of what you perceive to be the ‘bad people.’ ”

Harrod said he, his wife Stephanie, and their two teenage children thoroughly enjoyed Spain.

“The trip was great,” he said. “We visited all the museums we could, and my kids – both of whom are taking Spanish in school – immersed themselves in the Spanish language. It kind of served as a test case to see if they wanted to do a ‘study abroad’ program.”

Harrod said he also spent some time researching study abroad best practices.

Garrett College has a 2023 study abroad trip for business students who will be going to Trinidad on a grant-funded expedition that includes a business course for college credit. GC faculty are also conducting a site visit in the upcoming school year to Wales in connection with another grant-funded student opportunity in 2024.