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Fourth in a series of posts, by CHRISTINE LIM, on graduate-level academic programs in genocide studies.  

Q & A with Dr. Jonathan Friedman, Director of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program at West Chester University of Pennsylvania

1. What graduate-level degree is offered in the field of genocide studies at WCUPA?

West Chester University, located 25 miles west of Philadelphia, PA, offers through its Holocaust and Genocide Education Center a Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

2. What are some of WCUPA’s non-degree offerings in the field?

WCUPA offers a graduate-level certificate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, an undergraduate minor in Holocaust Studies, and a popular capstone field studies course that has traditionally gone to sites of Holocaust history in Europe, usually Israel or Germany.

3. When was the program founded?

An undergraduate course on the Holocaust was first offered in 1978. WCUPA’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies M.A. and graduate certificate program began in 2000.

4. What makes the WCUPA program stand out from others?

It has a broad theoretical framework, with a rigorous focus on the nature and dynamics of prejudice, racism, and bigotry. Also, it brings an interdisciplinary approach to the subject matter, including courses from history, psychology, philosophy, criminal justice, political science, and language arts.

5. Who are the faculty involved in this program?

Here is our program faculty page.

6. What are the courses like?

Some examples:
Genocide in Modern History
Methods for Teaching the Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Politics of the Holocaust and Genocide

A more complete list is here.

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

Normally, the program takes two years to complete.

8. How many people have received this degree to date?

38 students have graduated from the program since its inception. 37 graduates received the MA degree. 1 student graduated with the 18-hour certificate.

9. What are your alumni doing?

The bulk of our alumni are middle and high school teachers who are using the degree to create courses in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. A smaller number of graduates work in Jewish federations or Holocaust museums, and we’ve had students go on to doctoral programs in history at Temple University, the University of Tennessee, Wayne State University, and Lehigh University.

(Google and LinkedIn searches reveal that Middle East analyst Asaf Romirowsky is an alum. Other alumni are variously an Adjunct Professor of Holocaust and Genocide at Widener University, on the Executive Committee of the Holocaust Resource Center of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, the chair of a high school English department, and a Special Assistant Public Defender.)

10. Tell us more about the admissions process.

GREs are not required. I don’t know what our acceptance rate is, but the basic requirements are an undergraduate degree, GPA of 2.8 or higher, a completed application with statement of purpose and transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.


Last week, Kai Brand-Jacobsen (pictured here), director of the Department of Peace Operations at the Peace Action Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR), gave a presentation titled Preventing War, Violence and Genocide: Critical New Approaches to Making Prevention Work. The event was jointly organized by Global Action to Prevent War and Armed Conflict, the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (UNDP), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung New York, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues of the British Parliament, and PATRIR’s Department of Peace Operations.

Brief introductory remarks were given by Dr. Robert Zuber, Chetan Kumar, and Volker Lehmann. The three spoke of the need for women, indigenous peoples, and other marginalized groups to be included in the capacity for prevention. They emphasized that we need to be attentive to smoke so as to not have to put out as many fires. They went on to discuss how conflict and intervention have changed as a result of boundaries and borders, climate changes, and rapid change. Rapid change requires rapid response, not allowing time for discussion, which can in turn lead to further conflict. Therefore there need to be standing structures and institutions—traditional (such as parliaments and police forces), those designated to manage conflict, such as the Ghana National Peace Council, and those at the national or local level. Inclusive participatory planning is a key aspect of prevention and moving beyond the short term, from intervention to accompaniment.

Brand-Jacobsen opened his presentation by using statistics to discuss why prevention matters. Over the last 40 years, there has been a “decrease” in war but a 45 percent increase in violence—more than 4,000 people per day die as a result of it, over 90 percent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. Of those 4,000, approximately 2,300 commit suicide and 1,500 die due to injuries inflicted by someone else. Between 1990 and 2005, armed conflicts in Africa cost $284 billion. 740,000 people die every year as a result of armed violence, the majority occurring outside war zones. The average cost of a civil war is $65 to 125 billion and the global cost of homicides is $95 to 160 billion. Africa loses $18 billion per year due to wars, civil wars, and insurgencies.

Armed violence is defined as the intentional, threatened, or actual use of arms to inflict death or injury, and can occur within the contexts of both war and non-war. Armed violence during war can lead to genocide, mass atrocities, and the killing of civilians. But the impact of armed violence is greater than resultant armed conflict, as it also causes large-scale criminal activity, as well as inter-personal and gender-based violence. However, conflict should not be equated with violence, as the former can exist before and/or after the latter. In fact, global processes have made it so factors can be identified before a conflict becomes violent, namely conditions and structural factors for early warning.

The talk then segued into early warning and conflict intelligence. There are various conflict phases and intervention types and a crucial link between warning and response. Brand-Jacobsen stated that political will needs to be created, and emphasized training and learning, and integrated levels of conflict analysis—local, national, regional, and international/global. A key resource in this area is “Preventing Violence, War and State Collapse: The Future of Conflict Early Warning and Response.” Early warning systems should not stand alone, but be incorporated into existing systems.

The next section of the presentation focused on prevention, the “how” of which can be broken down into three categories: primary prevention, structural prevention (measures to ensure that crises do not arise in the first place or, if they do, that they do not recur), and operational prevention (measures applicable in the face of immediate crisis). The “when” is 1) always/standing and 2) operational, which includes the time not only before a crisis, but also during it. Ultimately, peacebuilding + peacemaking + peacebuilding = prevention. In order to develop an infrastructure for peace, reconciliation must be included under the heading of prevention to overcome entrenched ideologies and interests.



Attention, GenPrev fans! Next week is your lucky week if you live in New York, as there are five events related to GenPrev happening over three consecutive days.

First and foremost (from our point of view) is a talk titled “What Does It Mean to Prevent Genocide?” by Auschwitz Institute executive director Tibi Galis (pictured here), at 6:15 p.m., Tuesday, June 12, at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Tibi’s talk will emphasize that, although increasingly conflated and confused, genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention are two different things. He will then enter into conversation with Kyle Matthews of the Will to Intervene project. To attend the event in person, register by sending an e-mail to Admission is $25. Otherwise you can watch the live webcast here.

Also on Tuesday, June 12, at 4:30 p.m, is a reception for civil society organizations engaged in the Responsibility to Protect, at the office of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (708 Third Avenue, 24th floor):

In preparation for the informal dialogue in the General Assembly on response measures available under the Third Pillar of the Responsibility to Protect, the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) invites you to attend an informal reception with civil society colleagues on the Responsibility to Protect. This reception is being held in cooperation with New York–based ICRtoP member, Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW).

The reception will feature a short talk by Mr. Hermann Hokou, legal scholar and activist from Côte d’Ivoire, who will discuss the election violence of 2010–11, how the conflict was handled by the international community and what we can learn in addressing other crises. Also in attendance will be NGO colleagues from Brazil, Belgium, Armenia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Romania and Canada, in town next week to share the experiences of their organizations, working to prevent genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, as well as reflect on their efforts to entrench RtoP at the national and regional levels.

The third event on Tuesday, June 12, is a discussion on “Preventing War, Violence and Genocide: Critical New Approaches to Making Prevention Work,” at 1 p.m. at the Church Center for the United Nations (777 UN Plaza at 44th Street, 2nd floor). Guest speaker Kai Brand-Jacobsen, director of the Department of Peace Operations at the Peace Action Training and Research Institute of Romania, will address the following:

War, armed violence, genocide and mass atrocity have devastating impacts – costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians every year, destroying economic and human development and security, and devastating lives and societies. Yet major steps have been taken to advance the prevention of violence and armed conflict. This talk will review critical breakthroughs and practical experiences in the prevention of war, violence and genocide. Combining on the ground experience and practical evidence with critical breakthroughs in peacebuilding and prevention, this event will challenge and inspire policy makers, practitioners, diplomats, politicians, analysts, experts and all participants, and look practically at how to make prevention work.

Finally, on Monday, June 11, and Wednesday, June 13, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung will be presenting Global Civil Society Perspectives on the Responsibility to Protect:

FES New York supports a series of meetings organized by Global Action to Prevent War (GAPW) and its partners from civil society organizations from various continents on the emerging norm of the “Responsibility to Protect.” The discussions on June 11 will address how various UN Mandates can contribute to prevention, and reflect on balanced and robust responses to the threat of mass atrocities. On June 13, special attention will be given to the proposal for a United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS).

We hope you can make some or all of these events. If not, be sure to stay tuned for recaps.

Third in a series of posts, by CHRISTINE LIM, on graduate-level academic programs in genocide studies.  

1. What type of graduate-level degree is offered in the field of genocide studies at Kean?

Kean University, located in Union, NJ, offers through the  Nathan Weiss Graduate College a Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

2. When was the program founded?

The program was founded in January of 2006.

3. How many people have received this degree to date (or how many per year receive them, on average)?

11 people have graduated to date.

4. Who are the faculty involved in this program?

Here is our program faculty page.

5. What are the courses like?

Some examples:
Genocide in Asian History
Native-American Genocide
The Ukrainian Famine-Genocide 1932-1933

A more complete list is here.

A 10-page Powerpoint presentation on the program is available here.

6. What are your alumni doing?

The Alumni Relations Office [908-737-2586] should have more information.

A quick Google search shows that one 2008 grad is completing her Ph.D. in Holocaust History and Genocide Studies at Clark University.

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

Approximately two years.

8. How competitive are admissions?

We no longer require GREs. Our program usually attracts self-selected applicants.

This is the second in a series of blog posts by Auschwitz Institute interns who from October 2011 through March 2012 monitored countries for risk of genocide using the Analysis Framework of the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. This week we present the post by Shamiran Mako, a graduate student in political science and international relations at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. Shamiran monitored Bahrain for risk of genocide.

As an academic working mostly on comparative politics and international relations, the joint internship with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide (OSAPG) furthered my understanding of the structure and implications of international policymaking on genocide and other crimes against humanity. Using the OSAPG’s eight-point framework of analysis as the legal and normative framework for measuring the risk of genocide in conflict states also furthered my understanding of international law and the structures and processes that shape the international community’s response to genocide. As a genocide-monitoring intern, my task was to compile research on the developing crisis in Bahrain following the Arab Spring.

A common misperception pins genocide as an abrupt and spontaneous rupture in a state’s internal governing structures and institutions. However, as an unfolding process, genocide often beings with the violation of basic human rights, ultimately resulting in the suppression and extermination of targeted groups based on a misplaced threat perception by the ruling elites. This threat perception, often entwined in an ideological justification, escalates to the mobilization of the state’s resources and institutions for the destruction of the perceived threat group. Two things I learned during the course of my internship with the Auschwitz Institute and the OSAPG are the role of history and ideology as fundamental mobilizing factors that legitimize and shape the state’s response to perceived threat groups.

As a genocide-monitoring intern, I was responsible for mapping out a background assessment of the country’s historical inter-group relations, discrimination of specific groups in society, and prior record of human rights violations against targeted groups. In the case of Bahrain, the Arab Spring, marked by widespread revolutions and uprisings that have come to define the politics of the region since early 2011, demonstrated an opportunity for Bahrainis to voice their discontent with the ruling Al Khalifa family’s domination of state structures and institutions since the 19th century. Culminating in state-sponsored human rights violations, mass suppression, and the targeted killing of unarmed protesters, Bahrain posed a complex and challenging case that required an analysis of all relevant contextual variables.

While gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1971, Bahrain is comprised of an estimated 70 percent majority Shi’is and has been ruled by the Sunni-minority Al Khalifa family since the 18th century. Sectarianism and competing religious ideologies have also been determining variables of state-citizen relations, where the Al Khalifa family, with strong regional ties to other Gulf States, have ruled with impunity. Historically, the Shi’i community has been marginalized from state structures and institutions and live on the lower margins of the socio-economic strata. The 2011 revolts and revolutions in the Arab world provided an opportunity structure for Bahrainis to protest against failed promises of political and economic reforms.

Using the Genocide Convention’s definition of genocide as the main international legal framework, as well as academic and non-governmental sources to analyze the situation in Bahrain since the Arab Spring, I was able to develop a broader understanding of the inter-communal dynamics that have come to dominate Bahraini politics during this critical juncture. What originally began as peaceful mass protests against government policies instituted under Al Khalifa rule permeated by the monarchy’s reluctance to implement and uphold constitutional reforms that would ensure equal distribution of parliamentary seats, equal political participation and socio-economic development for the country’s majority Shi’i community, spiralled into political violence and the suppression of political dissidents, unarmed protesters, and human rights activists. Moreover, the use of foreign military personnel from other Gulf States, namely Saudi Arabia, to quell the revolution deepened the suppression of Bahrainis, which only served to further delegitimize Al Khalifa rule. The current unification proposal by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which would see the geopolitical and military unification of the two countries, has been met with criticism from the majority Shi’i community in Bahrain, other Gulf Cooperation Council countries (namely Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates), as well as Iran.

In sum, as a student of political science and international relations, the internship was an opportunity to understand firsthand the internal policy workings of the United Nations with regard to countries at risk of genocide and other crimes against humanity. In the case of Bahrain, its historical background, coupled with an understanding of the ideological implications that have plagued the country’s political trajectory, demonstrate the complex web of state-citizen interactions. The internship with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation in conjunction with the Office of the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide bolstered my knowledge of the multiplicity of variables that can impact a country’s recourse toward the suppression of its citizens, particularly the role of history and ideology in the case of Bahrain.


This week on GenPrev in the Classroom, we are excited to take a look at the degree-granting graduate studies in genocide offered via Rutgers University’s Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights, located on the Newark, NJ campus.

I envisioned this post as a very brief Q & A on a graduate-level genocide studies program, but it made more sense in the case of Rutgers to explore what made the program unique. For instance, Rutgers University offers a course actually entitled “Genocide Prevention.” Verbalizing why it is so special to have a university course available at all that is called “genocide prevention” took far longer than expected. My theory is that it is because Rutgers has the only Ph.D. program available for Global Issues as opposed to International Issues.

There are some texts for sale with the phrase “genocide prevention,” and briefings, discussions, or protests but very few courses. A few clarifications should be made about this matter before we delve further into the wonderful programs that Rutgers offers.

genocide prevention : genocide studies :: activism : academia

The category of this post is “GenPrev in the Classroom,” but it would be more accurate to call it “genocide studies in the classroom.” The anxiety about this discrepancy is not overwhelming, because in all likelihood the effective study of genocide at any educational level (even as early as grade school) instills in students some motivation to help prevent it if possible.

This might be another one of those distinctions that seem obvious and instinctive for others, but in case anyone was wondering, there is an imperfect overlap between activism and academia. The burning question in my mind after a few weeks of writing exclusively about genocide prevention was why I had never heard of a doctoral program in genocide prevention, or even a college level course devoted to it.

I thought that it was probably too specialized and thus collapsed into syllabi for more general courses on human rights, international studies, public policy, or mass atrocities. When I found degree-granting graduate-level programs in genocide studies, I looked for the phrase “genocide prevention” in the course lists and almost never encountered it, not even in the descriptions. Did the phrase “genocide prevention” just not exist in academia? If so, why not?

As we established last week, multiple Ph.D. programs for “genocide studies” exist. Even in the lists of core and elective courses in the graduate programs, however, I almost never saw the phrase “genocide prevention.” It soon became clear that Rutgers offers, to the best of my knowledge, the only recurring, non-military-affiliated, university-level course in genocide prevention. Why is this the case?

I asked my old human rights professor about this, and her reply amounted to,

Your question makes no sense because that is not how major research universities work. Academic research is not activism. Graduate programs are not centers or institutes or working groups for this reason.The aim of a liberal education is not to train people to do a particular job in the world but to help build the critical-thinking capacity and flexibility in students to tackle any problem as they encounter it, drawing upon all of the relevant resources available to them. Specific historical and contemporary cases are often used as teaching examples within university courses, but no particular piece of knowledge is considered absolutelynecessary.

Of course she has a point. Of course even someone with a Ph.D. in genocide studies may never have gone through a professional training program such as the ones offered by the Auschwitz Institute or the UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide for acting government officials. Academic research and the practical prevention of genocide are two separate endeavors. We can expect graduates of genocide studies programs to hold their own in theoretical discussions, but unless they have the extracurricular experience to back themselves up, there is no reason to assume that they are also trained activists.

So this blog is about genocide prevention, and there is an important difference between genocide prevention and genocide studies. Genocide studies require academic research in a specific field of inquiry (possibly in the proverbial ivory tower), while genocide prevention requires activism in the real world. There is a great likelihood of some overlap and cross-fertilization between the two endeavors at various points in time, with academics becoming activists or activists becoming academics. But there is no guarantee that a student of genocide will become a genocide prevention activist, and vice versa.

I am not the first person to be puzzled or worried by this phenomenon. This abstract of the annual Salzburg Global Seminar called The Global Prevention of Genocide: Learning From the Holocaust, which was first offered in 2010, encapsulates the essence of what I had been seeing and being bothered by instinctively but not verbalizing well enough:

Today, many states have recognized the importance of teaching about the Holocaust and using it as a mechanism for preventing racism, ethnic conflict, and genocide. There are a growing number of state mandates, as well as impressive private initiatives, that seek to achieve this. Nevertheless, at the classroom level few schools or universities have actually succeeded in implementing Holocaust education programs that link the history of the Holocaust with the contemporary prevention of racism and genocide. This failure is exacerbated by the continuing divide and lack of communication between individuals and organizations working in the fields of Holocaust studies, and those working in the area of genocide prevention. The aim of the Salzburg Global Seminar’s project is, therefore, to make the prevention of genocide a central part of Holocaust education curricula.

That being said, Rutgers University has one of the only courses, if not the only course specifically called “Genocide Prevention,” and aims to connect the academic study of genocide with the movement aimed at preventing it. Here is the syllabus.


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

The Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights, together with the Division of Global Affairs, a doctoral program ranked fifth nationally in international affairs and development, offers a Master of Science in Global Affairs with a concentration in genocide, political violence, or human rights. One may also focus on genocide and human rights issues while completing a Ph.D. in the Division of Global Affairs. 

2. What makes Rutgers’s Ph.D. program unique?

Rutgers has the only Ph.D. program in “Global Affairs,” as opposed to “International Affairs,” and offers one of the only courses in the country actually titled “genocide prevention.”

3. There are so many “international relations” or “international affairs” programs. What is the difference between “global affairs” and “international affairs”?

International affairs” has to do with relationships between nations, while “global affairs” pertains more generally to the whole world. Like hunger. Or war. It is about the big problems of humanity that transcend and permeate nations and their boundaries. Genocide is also such a problem. An easy way to think of this is that even if the world could be united under a global hegemon tomorrow, he or she would still have to deal with these big, global problems.

4. What can a “global” approach to the problem of contemporary genocide bring to the table that an “international” approach does not?

Starting a discussion by framing genocide as a contemporary global issue or problem immediately focuses attention on genocide as a current, ongoing phenomenon. It is like telling someone that they have caught on fire. What did we learn in elementary school? Stop, drop, and roll. The first logical response is, “Can we fix or stop genocide?”

But to make another, this time biological metaphor, it is easier and far less expensive to prevent obesity than to try and cure it after the symptoms have set in. For obesity prevention, one can eat right and exercise regularly. So the most efficient solution to the problem of genocide is probably prevention. It’s literally only a two- or three-step thought process to even get to the idea of prevention. Fire –> Ending –> Preventing

5. So is it a coincidence that one of the only places one can find a course specifically on genocide prevention at the graduate level is the same place that offers the only Ph.D. program in Global Affairs?

Probably not. There must be something about the international (literally, “between nations”) approach to the study of genocide that can make it a long and difficult journey to the phrase “genocide prevention” to pop up in one’s head. One could go through an entire Ph.D. program on genocide studies without even touching upon how to preventcontemporary genocide. One could focus entirely on past genocides—which is not surprising, because while genocide studies is by its nature interdisciplinary and interdepartmental (history, law, anthropology, political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, public policy, humanities, are just some of the departments that come to mind), many of the genocide studies programs unsurprisingly arose from the historical study of the Holocaust. As soon as you get that many academics into a room, the language gets increasingly abstract. Using phrases such as “mass atrocities” instead of “genocide,” or “conflict prevention” instead of “genocide prevention,” would be examples.

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