Center for Advanced Genocide Research
The Shoah Foundation came to the University of Southern California in 2006. "President Nikias was instrumental in making for us an extraordinary academic home" said Steven Spielberg, founder of the Shoah Institute.
President Nikias had said back then "we will give you a chance to sink your roots as you are trying to preserve the testimonies of the holocaust survivors". In doing that, he allowed the Shoah Foundation to have a permanent home and spread its wings and advance the study of genocide research.
President Nikias was the first to recognize what a first class research organization the partnership between USC and the Shoah Foundation would form.
There are so many testimonies to be recorded and archived that Shoah's work is immense. "Every year it seems our work has hardly even began", said Mr Spielberg, "and there is no end in sight, sadly".
There is so much to be learned from the 52,000 survivor testimonies which are kept in the Visual History Archive. Everyone of these testimonies can add to our understanding of the causes and consequences of a genocide.
Within the Shoah Foundation is the Center for Advanced Genocide Research, which advances research on how Holocaust and genocide can be prevented. For me, this is the Shoah arm that tackles Holocaust and genocide head-on because it suggests, or at least provides room for discussing, how humanity can evade such calamities in future.
Let's face it, at some point, you might have found yourself wondering what all this archiving of testimonies about the Holocaust and genocide will achieve. I know I did. Personally, I wondered what good documenting the Jewish Holocaust did besides reminding me of what my ancestors went through under the throes of political fanaticism. In the same way, I wondered how storing testimonies from other genocides around the world would help those affected, directly or indirectly. But, I have to admit, this center answers this question for me.
So, what's so special about this center?
To put it simply, the Center for Advanced Genocide Research does just what its name suggests - genocide research. However, a closer look at its defining themes reveals the genius of its existence. The center deals with 1) how genocide can be resisted, and even stopped altogether, 2) how mass murder events like Holocaust and genocide affect emotions and behavior, and 3) how digital data, such as that making up Shoah's Visual History Archive, can be used to unravel enigmatic human behavior to help prevent genocides in future.
The Center Is Ideally Positioned
The unit was launched in April of 2014, and its promising prospects makes it one of the best programs USC's Shoah Foundation currently has. More importantly, with the massive amount of Holocaust and genocides testimonies Shoah has, it is in an exclusive position to exploit all the benefits this kind of research has to offer.
It is also worth noting that South California, where USC and Shoah are located, has large survivor communities, and this certainly adds to its suitability for the important role of being the center for research on Holocaust and genocide.
Already A Massive Hit
Although it has been around for only several months, it has attracted students, scholars, and other interested academicians from around the globe through a research fellowship program. The program has research fellowships as well as a teaching fellows program. These programs involve undergraduate students, doctoral students, post-doctoral students, as well as senior scholars.
Workshops, conferences, and host speakers are also available each year. For instance, a recent event looked at how music can be used to resist genocide and spread the necessary awareness to make oppressive leaderships keen on using mass violence to achieve their political goals rethink their plans.
The people at the helm of this program are just as important to its noble cause. Wolf Gruner, its founder and a USC Professor of History, is a globally-recognized authority on Holocaust and genocide studies; in no small part because he has written nearly a dozen books on the Holocaust and other genocides in Latin America.
To learn more about prevention of genocide and anti-simitism, visit the following organizations
Aegis Trust: An operation that works to stop genocide and mass atrocities worldwide
ADL: A movement to stop the defamation of the Jewish people
Yad Vashem: A place dedicated to documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.