Associate Professor Scott Harding was recently awarded a University of Connecticut Large Faculty Grant and received the Dean’s Research Incentive Award from the School of Social Work for a research project examining military counter-recruitment organizing in the United States. According to Harding, because of a reliance on a volunteer military force, military recruitment assumes a dual purpose: ensuring adequate military manpower needs and a latent socialization role. He notes that U.S. public schools have increasingly become a key site for military recruitment. For example, due to federal legislation enacted in 2001, public schools must accept military recruiters on campus or else face loss of federal funding.
In a challenge to the growing presence of the military into U.S. education settings, Harding notes, counter-recruitment has emerged as an important grassroots movement. Utilizing community organizing methods, counter-recruitment activists—students, teachers, veterans, and others—seek to challenge the socialization of youth to a culture of militarism. In particular, counter-recruitment aims to counteract misinformation spread by military recruiters and ensure that students, who are often from minority or low-income communities, receive information about non-military, post-graduation service opportunities and career options. While counter-recruitment has existed for more than 30 years, there are few empirical studies of this practice and its role within the larger U.S. peace movement. Harding and his colleague, Seth Kershner, are currently developing a book on this topic based on interviews with counter-recruitment activists in cities across the United States.