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Western students could soon choose to minor in the holocaust

Kirsten Christensen, left, and Lisa Marcus, right, before their presentation on the new Pacific Lutheran University Holocaust and Genocide Studies minor on Thursday, April 23, at the Viking Union. Recent interest in the topic has lead Western faculty members to discus bringing a similar program to Western. // Photo by Kesia Lee
Kirsten Christensen, left, and Lisa Marcus, right, before their presentation on the new Pacific Lutheran University Holocaust and Genocide Studies minor on Thursday, April 23, at the Viking Union. Recent interest in the topic has lead Western faculty members to discus bringing a similar program to Western. // Photo by Kesia Lee

A panel of teachers presented the possibility of adding a Holocaust minor to Western’s curriculum.

Last fall at Pacific Lutheran University, a new minor, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, was added to the schools offerings. With the introduction of this minor, PLU became the first college or university in the Pacific Northwest to offer the area of study.

A group of faculty members at Western came together Wednesday, April 23, to talk about bringing a similar program to campus. Member Amanda Zurich explained that the group began because of two reasons. First was of the retirement of Ray Wolpow, a former professor from Woodring College. Second was the desire for the programs to continue public education.

As of right now, Eurich said it hasn’t been decided which department the program would fit into.

“Right now, the focus is on discussions on who will participate in the program,” she said.

Eurich said they are talking about using current faculty from Western and are exploring the possibility of creating new faculty lines to enrich the program.

Lisa Marcus and Kirsten Christensen traveled from PLU to discuss the features of the minor’s introductory class and to explore the poetry that inspired Marcus to help found the minor

Jeanne Armstrong, another member of the steering group, was tasked with reaching out to the two PLU teachers. Armstrong said the group looked at PLU because they had a good model for the minor.

Marcus was a founding member of the degree, and Christensen was a member of the faculty group that designed the new program. Christensen also helped teach the first introductory course in the fall of 2014.

Christensen holds a Ph.D. in Germanic Studies and is an associate professor of German. She became involved in the project, she said, when a retiring teacher reached out to those who might be interested in talking about the program.

Christensen said the whole process took them a little more than a year-and-a-half and used grant money the group had received in the summer of 2013 to come up with learning objectives, a mission statement and course requirements.

In the summer of 2014, she said, the group developed the introductory course that the group will teach in rotation.

As of fall 2014, the class had only been taught once. However, Christensen said there have been a robust number of students interested in the minor.

“The class was full and it stayed full,” Christensen said. She said from the class, two or more students have declared the minor after taking the class.

Zachary Toombs, a student attending the event, said he would be interested in seeing the program come to Western and offering students a chance to learn about different texts, studies and genocides.

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