Keene State’s Holocaust and genocide studies (HGS) program – the only four-year BA degree in the U.S. – combines historical background with an interdisciplinary exploration of both the Holocaust and other genocidal events through film, literature, philosophy, psychology, sociology, religious studies, women’s studies, and other offerings.
The Holocaust and genocide studies major and minor are rooted in the conviction that the Holocaust was a cataclysmic episode that impacted culture, society, politics, ethics, science, and religion. In a world still tormented by mass murder and genocide, the program also rests on the moral imperative that learning from the past and present serves as a basis of hope for the future.
Based on the premise that every aspect of our civilization, including higher education, has been affected by the Holocaust, students grapple with the Holocaust and other instances of genocide or mass atrocity. By gaining insight into the Holocaust and studying other instances of genocide, we confront underlying moral issues and human behaviors that force us to examine how science, technology, religion, and broader social forces shape human affairs and, in some instances, lead to atrocities. The HGS program examines human behavior: On what basis do individuals choose to perpetrate harm against others, stand by and watch mass atrocity, or choose to either resist or rescue those earmarked for murder? What impact do communal histories, cultures, and belief systems have on such choices? How might national or ethnic art, music, and literature reveal significant myth, prejudices, and falsehoods that give rise to mass atrocity? The program also aims to study people more generally: the lives of those targeted for murder, of those who resist, of those who rescue, and the lives and writings of those who endeavor to heal. Students may spend a semester at the Centre for European Studies at Jagiellonian University in Poland.
Keene State is home to the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, one of the nation’s oldest Holocaust resource centers. The Center has attracted internationally renowned scholars, many of whom have designed features of the course of study used at Keene State College. The academic backgrounds of our faculty attest to the breadth and diversity of this field. From historians to clergy, from filmmakers to social activists, our diverse educators approach the most horrible events in human history with passion and compassion, skill and wisdom.
In this Section:
Career and Other Opportunities
Graduates in Holocaust and genocide studies are prepared to make a difference in:
- graduate school (particularly in history and Holocaust and genocide studies)
- public and social policy
- social justice
- public service
There’s even more guidance for HGS students at our career planning page.
The Holocaust and Genocide Studies program directs undergraduates in a broad area of study linking history, literature, film, philosophy, psychology, women’s studies, religious studies, sociology, and more. With an understanding of such issues as prejudice, discrimination, and racism, you’ll be equipped to analyze contemporary political situations, think critically about ethical responsibility, and respond actively to injustice.
Whether I’m reading from a microfilm of documents from the 1930s/40s or a newspaper article from last week, being able to analyze the greater, or lesser, implications of those documents is an important skill. The Holocaust and Genocide Studies major also prepared me to be able to emotionally deal with working with traumatic subject matter on a pretty regular basis.
–Emily Leffingwell Robinson, Contractor, University Programs Division, Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Keene State College announces it is building an addition onto Mason Library to provide a co-located work space for the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the academic...
Liam Magan, 2016 Keene State alumnus, found a direct connection between his Holocaust and Genocide Studies major and his personal passion to stand up for transgender people. In March 2018...
Keene State’s Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Dr. Jim Waller was interviewed for a National Geographic article, "What Science Tells Us About Good and Evil." In the aftermath...