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Community Classroom Explores Prisoner Abuse

By Erin Orgeman

SEPT. 14, 2007--The next discussion in the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Community Classroom series will explore the issue of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib with the presentation, "Torture, Prisoner Abuse, and a Few Bad Apples," from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 15 in the lower level of the River Falls Public Library.

Sponsored by UWRF Outreach and Graduate Studies Office and the College of Arts and Sciences, this Community Classroom presentation will ponder the question if the killing and abuse of innocent Iraqi civilians at Abu Ghraib prison was work of a few "bad apples" or immoral soldiers. Participants will also examine at how people are affected by stressful situations, like war or prison.

Presenter Cynthia Kernahan is a professor in the UWRF department of psychology who specializes in social psychology research . Through this presentation, she explores the environmental and social factors associated with prisoners of war and their captors and links these factors with scientific data to help explain why these actions might happen in times of war.

"I think sometimes it gets simplified so that people think of these things as being just about the people involved," says Kernahan. Because these abuses have been widely publicized, "understanding why these things happen helps us to humanize the soldiers as well as the victims," she says. "Ultimately, [looking at it from this perspective]... makes the war more understandable. Lots of people might have family or friends who have served in the war. This presentation might help them to understand their friends or family members' service and experiences in new ways."

Community Classroom is a series of presentations on topics of vital concern in the contemporary world. The presentations are informal, free, and open to the public. Registration is not required. A complete list of courses and online registration information is available at or can be obtained by calling the UW-RF outreach office at 715-425-3256, 1-800-228-5607 or by e-mailing


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:29 Central Daylight Time


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