The West Virginia University community is being asked to help researchers gain a better understanding of how the people on campus recognize and respond to threatening situations – information that could have impact on campuses across the country.

LaRue Williams, director of Homeland Security Programs at WVU said her staff is teaming with Jim Nolan, associate professor in the Division of Sociology and Anthroplogy to tackle the research with the help of the WVU community.

The researchers will explore the perceptions of what situations constitute a threat and the extent to which an individual would intervene. WVU faculty and students who are over 18 are being asked to take a 10-minute on-line survey as part of the research at:

“We hope that the outcomes of this research will enable us to develop education and training for campus communities nationwide,” Williams said, “so that they will be able to perform threat assessments on their campuses and subsequently become more resilient.”

Nolan, principal investigator on the project, said the research is a very important step in dealing with security issues around campus.

“This study identifies the characteristics of the campus that have the best chance of providing a safe environment for the students, faculty, and staff,” he said. “The characteristic of the campus that we are talking about, is whether students, faculty and staff are willing to intervene if they see a dangerous situation brewing. What we are focusing on in this research is a very important aspect of dealing with security issues, but it is often overlooked.”

Said Graduate Research Assistant Wes Kimble, a student in the WVU’s Public Administration Department, “If we can somehow create an environment of better social cohesiveness and collective efficacy, we believe that we can make WVU a much safer place with quicker responses to threatening situations.”

For more information, contact Kimble at 304-293-5885 or or Nolan at 304-293- 8582 or


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CONTACT: Joan Caridi
Homeland Security Programs at West Virginia University
(304) 293-1455