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

About the Institute

Our 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.

Current Areas of Focus

Holocaust and Genocide Studies (HGST) Minor: Western students can embark on a new field of study on the Bellingham campus since fall 2019: Holocaust and Genocide Studies. WWU is the first public university in the state of Washington with such a minor. The program includes courses from six different disciplines and two colleges and combines historical understanding with a cross-disciplinary exploration of both the Holocaust and genocide. Our minor 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.

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.

Collegial Partnerships: In partnership with The Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern University in May 2019, the Wolpow Institute hosted the inaugural Regional Institute on the Holocaust, “Teaching the Holocaust in the Global Age.” In an environment conducive to high-level learning, faculty from the U.S. and Canada convened on Western’s campus for study and discussion of new topics in the field, cutting-edge research, and pedagogical practices.

Community Partnerships: As part of the 2019 Regional Institute, the Wolpow Institute partnered with Congregation Beth Israel, Bellingham’s oldest synagogue, to offer a speaker event given by University of Washington’s Dr. Devin Naar. Dr. Naar spoke of the experiences of Sephardic Jews during the Holocaust in a talk titled “From the Ottoman Empire to Auschwitz: The Mediterranean Jewish Experience of the Holocaust,” to an audience of over one hundred people, including Western students, faculty, CBI congregants, and community members.

In October, 2018, the Wolpow Institute, in partnership with the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, hosted “Teaching the Holocaust 101” on Western’s campus. Offering practical, hands-on, and engaging teaching skills in Holocaust Education, the workshop was available to teachers and pre-service teachers from across the region.

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.

Professional Development Opportunities: The bi-annual “Holocaust Education Symposium: Learning from the Past, Teaching for the Future” is a way for faculty in higher education to expand their knowledge of the Holocaust and discuss new topics in the field, cutting-edge research, and pedagogical practices. It brings outstanding scholars with expertise to serve as faculty and create an environment conducive to high-level learning and discussion. In 2019, we partnered with the Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern for the inaugural institute “Teaching the Holocaust in the Global Age.”

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 visit the WWU Foundation website. And, to remain updated on our current activities, please go to our website, follow us on Facebook, and subscribe to our newsletter. Thank you.