PBSC professors invited to Eastern Europe to share expertise
Two professors at Palm Beach State College in Boca Raton are in Lithuania this week to conduct professional development training in crisis intervention for psychologists and lecture on U.S. foreign policy.
Dr. Michael Miles, who teaches psychology, is conducting 20 hours of continuing education training for school and private practice psychologists. The training at Vilnius University in the capital of Lithuania June 16-21 covers such topics as post-traumatic stress disorder, dealing with loss, vicarious traumas and others. Professor Terry Randolph, who teaches American government and international relations, will lecture to the university community June 20 on “U.S. Foreign Policy and the Crisis in Ukraine: Its Challenges and Implications for Lithuania and the Baltic Region.”
The training and foreign policy lecture are being offered at a crucial time for that region with the current crisis in Ukraine. “Since the crisis in Ukraine erupted and Russia took over Crimea, many of the countries in Eastern Europe, like Lithuania, that were formerly under Russian domination are very fearful that Russia is attempting to reconstitute its empire in those countries,” Randolph said.
“Most of them, like Ukraine, have substantial parts of their populations who are of Russian origin. They rely on their membership in NATO for their security from potential Russian re-domination, but are very uneasy about it. They are not certain that Western nations comprising NATO will actually come to their defense, especially with the reticence being shown by major European NATO partners to jeopardize their strong economic and political ties to Russia and their general lack of will to get embroiled in military engagements,” Randolph said. “Lithuanians know that ultimately their reliance on NATO for protection means they are reliant upon the foreign policy objectives of the United States and the will of the U.S. to use American military power to come to their defense.”
This isn’t the first time that Miles and Randolph have traveled to Lithuania. This will be Miles’ eighth trip there. He went for the first time in 2004 when the College granted him sabbatical leave. He spent five months helping Vilnius University implement a new graduate program in special education. Each year since then, the university has invited him back to provide various training related to special education. However, last year was his first time presenting on crisis intervention.
“If the College hadn’t given me a sabbatical in 2004, none of this would have happened,’’ Miles said.
Randolph accompanied Miles on the trip last year, mainly for observation, but because of his knowledge of the American political system and foreign policy, he also was invited to return to give a lecture. Miles received a grant from the European Union and the Lithuanian Science Council to help with this year’s trip.
Randolph said the experience helps him in his classes. “I use examples from Lithuania and what I observed over there in my classes all the time because they have a political existence that’s very different from ours. We in the United States don’t have to fear military domination by another country. To be able to talk to people who have lived through Soviet domination and who are now in the process of building a democracy and free market economy gives me a lot of material to use in my classes illustrating the important concepts of American government.”