Genocide Studies at Western

Jemma Everyhope-Roser

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Several new programs are in the works at Western for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and research.

Sandra Alfers, associate professor of German, for example, offers courses in German and English on Holocaust representations in literature and art, her research focus.

“Genocide is something that’s ongoing,” Alfers says. “It’s easier to talk about things that happened 70 years ago in another country because it’s further removed, and you have that distance, but when you apply it to your own setting and particular context, it may open up the discussion of other contexts that weren’t visible before.”

In other examples:

Alfers received a Radke Family Faculty Award, funded through the Western Foundation, to develop the curriculum for a proposed minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, which would be the first at a state public university. 

The proposed minor would be closely aligned with the proposed Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, which would build upon the work of Western’s Northwest Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Ethnocide Education. The multidisciplinary institute, named for the longtime director of the center, could support research ranging from the 1990s genocide in Yugoslavia to Native American history.

History Professor Steven Garfinkle is spearheading an effort to raise funds for the Jaffe Professorship in Jewish History, which enables Western, as the state’s premier trainer of social studies teachers, to prepare educators to teach the Holocaust. Thanks to the Jaffe Foundation and other community support in Bellingham, King County and beyond, funding is halfway complete. For more information, contact Garfinkle at