Understanding and Addressing Trauma

Ian Barron, the CIE Director, is working to include trauma-related skills and understanding into CIE’s portfolio of capabilities. Ian brings his extensive experience in dealing with trauma in Palestine and other locations. In his words:


CIE continues to challenge students to have the courage to explore human rights abuses around the world, including within the USA. In seeking innovative solutions, CIE also encourages students to explore culturally sensitive, socially just, and emancipatory approaches to addressing these enduring and complex problems. 


Two recent presentations focused on the global issues of trans-generational trauma and on developing resiliency. Using a local-to-global lens, students reflected on how understanding trauma exposure and recovery in the USA could be the catalyst for exploring culturally sensitive, context specific healing approaches in other parts of the world.



Dawnland – a film from the Upstander Academy  


CIE graduate, Mishy Lesser, presented the Emmy award winning film Dawnland to counseling students at the College of Education. Dawnland traces the removal of Native American children from their homes by Welfare Authorities in order to "save them from being Indian.” The film follows first-hand accounts of what occurred at the time and the lasting legacy of trauma and misery. As part of understanding the socio-political-historical factors of transgenerational trauma and its relationship to cultural genocide students engaged in discussion of how to address the ongoing mental health impact for Native Americans.


Case studies illustrated the dynamics and distorted realities that enabled the shift from welfare agency to acting as an abusive mechanism of state cultural genocide. Rather than seeing this as a past issue, students reflected on global contexts of our time where such abuses continue.


Introduction to Resiliency    


Building on the Fall 2019 trauma seminar series, CIE introduced adjustment counselors and social justice students in the College of Education to the one-credit course, Changing Minds, Changing Lives. This is the first step in exploring the use of the course for a local and global international student population. The course, developed by Genevieve Chandler at the UMass College of Nursing, helps university students build resilience in the face of challenges such as high expectations, cognitive and emotional demands of academic courses as well as stressors of life beyond college.


During the session, delivered by Genevieve Chandler and Jim Helling, students explored how to create environments that promote a sense of belonging, the capacity for persistence, and the development of leadership skills. Key messages from neurobiology were shared that highlighted the importance of calming the body, positive thinking to enable focus, developing creative solutions, and negotiating needed resources for success.