Preparing Future Human Rights Leaders Is At Heart of New Keene State Graduate Programs
For scholar and professor Dr. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, “positioning students to become human rights leaders,” is among the noblest of pursuits. She may be biased, but as endowed chair of Keene State’s Holocaust & Genocide Studies Department (HGS), Dr. von Joeden-Forgey couldn’t be clearer or more succinct.
At Keene State, home to the Cohen Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, one of the nation’s oldest Holocaust resource centers, the rights of individuals and groups is an expanding area of academic interest and inquiry.
A liberal-arts institution that is part of the University System of New Hampshire, Keene State already offers the only four-year BA degree of its kind in the United States with a major and a minor degree option. And now, through Keene State’s master of arts program (MA) in Genocide Prevention & Human Security (GPHS) — and graduate certificate in Atrocity Prevention — students can find flexible opportunities to gain expertise and professional skills in these and related fields.
The college offers a 16-credit Graduate Atrocity Prevention Certificate and a 32-credit Master of Arts (MA) in Genocide Prevention and Human Security. Both options are offered online — synchronous and asynchronous — and in person.
(The GPHS program) is opening so many doors for me by expanding my knowledge base and helping me apply it to the real world through the internship track.”
– Grad student Alicia Thayer
Dr. von Joeden-Forgey calls the curriculum innovative for, among other things, its interdisciplinary — or “holistic” — approaches that combine travel, internships, language learning, skills development, and more.
The MA program’s three tracks — thesis, internship, and critical global engagement — “further allow students to tailor their educational experiences to their particular interests and goals,” she said.
Offered for the first time in the Fall of 2022, the program aims to be a fitting extension of Keene State’s undergraduate HGS program. According to Dr. von Joeden-Forgey, the course work transcends routine academic curriculum so that students can work closely with faculty and develop detailed plans of action for future research and training.
That is precisely what’s on the mind of student Rebecca Dietrich, a member of the first class of the College’s MA program. Rebecca said she now has the appropriate resources and support to pursue her research titled “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.”
“The small class sizes allow for a more personal and engaging learning experience that is hard to find anywhere else.”
Alicia Thayer ‘22 is also a part of that first-year MA class. She enrolled in the grad program after earning her undergraduate HGS degree at Keene State. She said that the GPHS program “is opening so many doors for me by expanding my knowledge base and helping me apply it to the real world through the internship track.”
For the MA program, Intro to Atrocity Prevention and The Genocidal Process are the lone required courses, Dr. von Joeden-Forgey said. Otherwise, students are offered a solid grounding in the literature and theory of Holocaust and genocide studies and have many direct opportunities to apply this theory to real-world scenarios.
All courses are online, in part to accommodate international professionals. Certificate credits are stackable within the master’s degree, meaning certificate students accepted into the MA program may complete their master’s degree by completing 16 additional credits.
Keene State senior Allison Newey ‘23 will graduate in May with dual degrees, in Holocaust & genocide studies and political science. She plans to head overseas for her graduate studies, in international peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
It is empowering to be surrounded by like-minded students who want to make a change, and to be taught by inspiring professors who are experts in the field.”
– Allison Newey ‘23
She said her undergraduate work prepared her immeasurably for the next chapter of her education. This included studying abroad in Germany; a current internship with the U.S. Department of State, working specifically with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa to help to monitor ongoing conflicts in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; and as an early warning research analyst for Genocide Watch, an anti-genocide NGO based in Washington, D.C.
“These new degree opportunities are a wonderful thing for Keene State and for the students who come through those programs,” Newey said. “I always had an interest in politics, social activism, and history, and the Keene State program has been a perfect intersection of all those passions. Thanks to the HGS program, I am prepared to make a positive change. It is also empowering to be surrounded by like-minded students who want to make a change, and to be taught by inspiring professors who are experts in the field.”
Applications for both new graduate programs are accepted on a rolling basis, and there is no application fee. Applicants can expect to hear back within two weeks of completing their application, Dr. von Joeden-Forgey noted, and tuition assistance and scholarship opportunities that exist can also be explored with accepted students at that time.