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August 22, 2007


A University of Maine at Fort Kent psychology professor hopes to create “a peaceful revolution” among his students to help bring about world peace.  The revolution will come through the professor’s teachings and students’ activism as part of a Child Psychology: Lectures for World Peace class to be offered this fall on the Fort Kent campus.  

Dr. James P. Killarney, a professor of psychology and education at UMFK since 1983, claims to have found “a crack in reality” as a way to make an impact on the greater good of the world.  Child Psychology: Lectures for World Peace is the means by which Dr. Killarney hopes to make that impact. 

The class will be held on Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. in the UMFK ITV Center, located in the Old Model School. 

“Students in the class will light a fire, and, hopefully, the fire will catch and spread into a wildfire.  Each student will be assigned a world leader to contact with a single proposition: “If the United States and Russia agree to cooperate in a plan for total nuclear disarmament, will you support this effort?” 

Killarney himself will be responsible for contacting one world leader. 

“Many people across the planet are trying to achieve peace, but our world is becoming more unsafe and the suffering of our children is worsening. I have chosen nuclear disarmament not only because it is a tangible threat, but also because it is one of mankind’s greatest threats. If we can join together and cooperate as world citizens to eradicate this great threat, we will have the system in place to take on other threats to make this a better world for future generations,” says Dr. Killarney. Killarney advances the theory that civilization already has gone the wrong way and needs to be corrected if it is to survive. 

 “The class is about understanding our children and how to use this understanding to best assure that our children, and their children, will be able to develop to their fullest potential. For that to happen, we, as responsible adults, need to be able to provide them the safety, security, and nurturance necessary for optimal development. This can only happen if the adults: their parents, their leaders, actively work toward securing peace, and not toward accumulating power and wealth and/or projecting limited ideologies,” explains Killarney. Professor Killarney explains that the fundamental principle underlining Child Psychology: Lectures for World Peace is that all life is sacred. It is the understanding that all living systems, and the delicate and intricate ecosystems in which each are embedded, are absolutely dependent upon one other, not only for their very existence, but also for their continued evolution.    

Class participants will learn about children through a variety of methodologies. They will listen to Killarney’s stories and ideas about children, which have evolved through his role as a father, step-father, and now as a grandfather.  Killarney’s ideas also come about from his independent private practice as a child psychologist in northern Maine for the last 25 years. 

The philosophical framework in which Killarney’s own experiences took shape is that of life-span developmental psychology.  That is, the field of science in psychology, which focuses upon how the individual evolves within his or her lifespan, and the historical forces that shape the individual across time.  Students will see and hear from many child guests -- from newborn through adolescence. 

Students also will be provided with readings, as well as varied experiences, designed not only to enhance an understanding, but also to provide them with an ability to make the necessary changes in their lives to make for a better life for our children. 

This class will offer an in-depth look at how children are doing today, in terms of their physical and emotional health. It will explore why children in America and throughout the world are doing poorly, and why their physical and emotional status is declining.  The class will examine the failure of leadership, not only in America, but throughout the world, to take into account the needs of the world’s most precious reserve: its children.  

“The status of children in the world, according to United Nations and the World Health Organization data, is horrendous and getting worse,” Killarney says.  “Leadership has failed our children. For example, 60 to 85 percent of children in the world are malnourished.  Also, the rate of autism has increased dramatically.  Currently, one in every 150 children born in this country has this condition.” 

The class will explore why children are not doing well, and how to create environments to assure health and optimal developmental functioning. The class will attempt to change the tide of history from inhumanity and suffering, to a world of peace.  

“If this class catches fire, we just might have a chance for world peace. If not, at the very least, we will have a great child psychology class, Killarney says. 

“My main motivation for attempting to do the “impossible” is that I love my children and am very worried about the kind of life they, and their children, will have.  The love and concern that I have for my children is the same love that an Iraqi or Mexican or Russian parent shares for their children,” Killarney adds.  “The world is waiting for sanity and it can’t wait any longer.”

Child Psychology: Lectures for World Peace is offered as a three-credit or as a pass-fail course.  If space is available, some classes may be open to the public on a limited basis. For further information - see the course syllabus for a list of topics and dates. 

Members of the community are invited to become part of the revolution and may attend any of the lectures, free of charge. 

For further information on class topics, please call the UMFK ITV Office at 834-7560.