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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.

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.

By CHRISTINE LIM

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.

Q&A

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.

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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