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International Land-Mine Expert to Headline Education Abroad Symposium at U.Va.

A pioneer in efforts to eradicate land mines around the world is scheduled to speak Thursday evening at the University of Virginia’s annual Education Abroad Symposium.

Ken Rutherford, a professor of political science and the director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University, will talk about how international experiences early in his education impacted his career and personal development.

Rutherford lost both legs in a land-mine accident while conducting humanitarian work in Somalia in 1993. He went on to co-found the Landmine Survivors Network, the world’s largest organization for land-mine survivors. He was instrumental in the Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition that spearheaded the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the global movement that led to the 2008 Cluster Munitions Ban Treaty.

Rutherford is conducting or participating in post-conflict missions and projects in Burundi, Colombia, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Libya, Lebanon, Rwanda, Syria, Uganda, Vietnam and Yemen.

His appearance is part of the International Studies Office’s second annual education abroad symposium, the theme of which is “Stories with Substance: More Than Just Being There.”

“It is our intention to push students past notions of academic adventure and travel,” education abroad adviser Jennifer Wiley said. “International education programs can be high-impact and have multiple facets of influence.”

Twenty-eight students submitted applications to present their projects at the symposium. The event opens with presentations from the three winners.

Mary Brewbaker, a third-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in religious studies and economics, worked for a non-governmental organization last summer in Kigali, Rwanda, and wrote a poem about her experience, calling it a “small window” into how her perspective changed after her education abroad experience.

Melanie Bartell, also third-year in the College, majoring in global development studies, set prose to music to describe the caste system in India. She spent last spring in Jaipur studying international development.

Wei Qian, a fourth-year media studies major in the College, created a video documentary about her visit to Greece via Semester at Sea last summer.

The symposium takes place in room 417 of Bavaro Hall from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees must RSVP here to ensure there are ample refreshments.

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