The Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity

About the Institute

The Ray Wolpow Institute's mission is to advance knowledge about the Holocaust and genocide, including ethnic and religious conflict as well as attendant human rights abuses. Students engaged in studying the Holocaust, genocide, and crimes against humanity will learn to analyze, understand, and differentiate their underlying complexities and to work towards their prevention.

The institute is home to two academic minors, one in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and another in Human Rights, the latter offered in partnership with Fairhaven College.

Current Areas of Focus

Holocaust and Genocide Studies (HGST) Minor: The Holocaust and Genocide Studies program continues to expand course offerings from six different disciplines, two colleges and combines historical understanding with a cross-disciplinary exploration of both the Holocaust and genocide. It prepares students to be successful and engaged members of society and will enable them to learn the tools needed to work in and across disciplines to identify and creatively solve key societal problems, both local and global.

Human Rights Minor: Western’s minor in Human Rights, a combined program of study offered through Fairhaven College, contributes to the development of students as well-educated, active, and engaged citizens through a vibrant learning community. The minor works off and expands the core values of the university and supplements academic majors in all university programs/departments.

Noémi Ban Memorial Speaker Series: In honor of the life and legacy of local Holocaust survivor Noémi Ban (1922-2019), we are currently raising funds to provide exceptional scholarly and educational programming through public lectures and performances.

Partnerships: Since 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has played a significant role in the way the Wolpow Institute features and manages its events. In fall 2021 and spring 2022, we co-sponsored several online events hosted by WWU’s World Issues Forum (WIF). Through their global justice speaker series, the WIF challenges students, faculty, staff, and community members to be active and engaged global citizens. 

We appreciate the University of Minnesota, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and Queensborough Community College, CUNY, Kupferberg Holocaust Center, for providing us the opportunity to support their commitment to mass-atrocities education and social change. Despite the global pandemic, by co-sponsoring online events hosted by the two institutions, the Wolpow Institute affirms their commitment to worldwide Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights education.

Faculty Research and Support: The Wolpow Institute aims to provide funding opportunities for WWU faculty to support their teaching and scholarly activities related to Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Student Scholarships: The Wolpow Institute facilitates student financial aid through scholarship opportunities. Generous donations from Bernhard Kohlmeier and Lisa Ann Mikulencak in honor of Arthur Poznanski, a Holocaust survivor, have provided students from various majors’ financial support for their education. To be eligible, an applicant must address one question: “When have you stood up for an individual or a group of people in a meaningful way and made a difference for that individual or group?”

To learn more about how you can become a part of our community and support the goals of the institute, please contact our director, Dr. Sandra Alfers, or our assistant director, Dr. Babafemi Akinrinade. And, to remain updated on our current activities, please go to our website, follow us on Facebook, and subscribe to our newsletter. Thank you.