By CHRISTINE LIM

A good friend once said to me, “This is Life. I’ve never seen Life actually taught in schools.”

In the past few weeks as an AIPR intern, I have often felt the same way about what we do here at the Auschwitz Institute: “This is Genocide Prevention. I’ve never seen Genocide Prevention actually taught in schools.”

I asked our communications director, Alex, about this, and he looked at me as blankly as anyone can through a Gchat window with the video disabled. “You didn’t know? The Links page on our blog has an exhaustive list of programs in this country, as well as some international ones.”

“Oh.”

The truth is our blog’s excellent Links page is so comprehensive that one has to scroll all the way past Background on Genocide, Genocide Prevention Institutions, and Genocide Prevention NGOs to get to the section on Genocide Studies. Even I, an absolutely dedicated intern, had gotten lost somewhere in the middle of the NGOs section.

As it turns out, there are a number of fine programs, especially at the graduate level, with a focus on Genocide and Holocaust Studies. It was merely that I had never heard of them.

So, I figured, if I hadn’t heard of them, probably most of you hadn’t either.

Pointing this out to Alex, I declared, “I want to write about that.”

“All right,” he said. “Though it sounds pretty boring to me.”

“Maybe it does to you because you’re already so well-informed.”

“Ha. Well, okay. I trust your judgment.”

And with that, we hereby announce a new category of post called “GenPrev in the Classroom.” Each post will consist of a short Q & A–type spotlight on one or two programs. This week, we look at the offerings at the first degree-granting graduate program of its kind in the world: Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, located in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Q & A with Mikaela Luttrell-Rowland, Academic Program Liaison Officer

1. What is the best way for someone to learn what the Strassler Center has to offer?

The best way to answer your questions and learn about the program is to visit our website and our Year End Reports. This gives an overview of our faculty, students, and aims of the program.

2. What types of graduate-level degrees are offered in the field of genocide studies at Clark?

The Strassler Center offers two doctoral degree tracks. One leads to a Ph.D. in history, with a focus on the history of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and comparative genocide. The other leads to a Ph.D. in social psychology, with a focus on the psychology of genocide, the antecedent causes for genocide around the globe, the experiences of different victim groups, the effects of group trauma on society, and the possibilities for political prevention and humanitarian intervention.

3. When was the program founded?

The program was founded in 1997.

4. How many people have received these degrees to date (or how many per year receive them, on average)?

We have given six doctoral degrees and four master’s degrees to date.

5. Who are the faculty involved in this program?

Here is our program faculty page.

6. What are the courses like?

Some examples:
Problem of Genocide
Genocide
Genocide Denial, Facing History and Reconciliation

A more complete list is here.

7. What are your alumni doing?

A short list of organizations in which our alumni are actively applying their education and training in the field:

Jewish World Watch
Chapman University
The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County
Holocaust Documentation and Education Center

Facing History and Ourselves
Public Interest Law Institute

8. Do you think that we could get the contact information of one of the alums for a quote or an interview?

Naama Haviv, Assistant Director of Jewish World Watch, was gracious enough to share what follows about the effect that her Clark M.A./A.B.D. in Comparative Genocide has had on her career, despite the fact that JWW is completely swamped at the moment preparing for the Walk to End Genocide that will be going on this Sunday:

“Attending the HGS program at Clark didn’t just teach me theory or history about genocide and genocide prevention. Clark University professors focus very much on teaching skills, and I think more than any other institution I’ve worked with since (and I do a lot of mobilizing students on university campuses around the country), produces graduates who are productive and impactful leaders in their fields. This certainly seems to be true of the program at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Many of us hold positions in leadership in our organizations and have been at the forefront of the burgeoning movement to combat genocide and mass atrocities.

When I attended, Clark was the only degree-granting institution in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and in many respects it put me on the map—with other genocide scholars, with my current organization, and eventually in the anti-genocide movement as a whole. Those who have history working in this field know Clark, and look to its program in HGS as a leading institution. To have that sort of reputation behind you is incredibly impactful.”

9. How many years do students normally take to graduate?

Five.

10. How competitive is admissions?

On average, we accept about 10 to 20% of applicants per year.

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