By Alexis Herr
Genocide is a universal and shared history. For example, the Holocaust—one of over a hundred recorded genocides—touched every corner of the Earth as nations participated in the war or took in refugees. Despite the far-reaching impact genocide has had and continues to have on international politics, religion, and law, it is rarely studied and infrequently addressed. Clark University, for example, is the sole doctoral program in the world to offer a Ph.D. in Holocaust and genocide studies.
Fortunately, over the past three decades, a number of universities and colleges across the United States have established academic centers for the study of the Holocaust and/or genocide. The institutions listed below offer a rich human rights curriculum to ensure that their students have an opportunity to gain the knowledge and competencies to understand the history of genocide and modern day atrocity.
Clark University welcomed the first doctoral students in Holocaust history in 1998 and five years later granted the first Ph.D. degrees (anywhere in the word) in Holocaust History. The university has since expanded its offerings to included a unique undergraduate program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, doctorates in Armenian Genocide History, Comparative Genocide, and a Ph.D. in social psychology focused on genocide studies.
The Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CCHGS) began as a resource center in 1983 and has since grown into a leading education center devoted to the memory and study of the Holocaust and genocide. CCHGS offers a Bachelor of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies that equips students with the necessary toolset to think critically about atrocity and, if they so chose, follow a career path focused on human rights issues. The university has an impressive and extensive holding of Holocaust and genocide research and offers student trips to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Yale University founded the Genocide Studies Program (GSP) in 1998 and has since grown into a robust research institute. The GSP conducts seminars and conferences on comparative, interdisciplinary, and policy issues that relate to genocide. And the university has provided training to researchers from afflicted regions, including Cambodia, Rwanda, and East Timor. The GSP’s extensive work on the Cambodian Genocide inspired an excellent website that offers extensive original research.
Claremont McKenna College launched its Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights in March 2003 and in 2009 changed its name to The Center for Human Rights Leadership. The Center offers a sequence (essentially a minor) that enables students to take on leadership roles in opposing genocidal conflict, terrorism, and human rights violations. I had the good fortune of benefitting from CMC’s amazing program and I took full advantage of the center’s rich course offerings, academic conferences, internship program, and fully funded travel trips to US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Berlin, Germany.
West Chester University offered its first undergraduate course on the Holocaust in 1978 and now offers a Masters of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, a certification program, an undergraduate minor, a regional education center, and a rich library collection.
The Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies (ACHS), established two decades ago, is part of the School of Arts and Humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas. Students interested in Holocaust Studies can earn a certificate through ACHS by completing a 15 credit hour curriculum.
The Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center, established in 1987, offers a wide array of interdisciplinary undergraduate courses on the Holocaust as well as a Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide.