Thank you for your donations to the Ray Wolpow Institute on Give Day 2021!

To make a secure gift to the Ray Wolpow Institute, click here or contact the Wolpow Institute Director, Dr. Sandra Alfers, Associate Director, Dr. Babafemi Akinrinade, or Administrative Assistant, Sheila Pennell.

RWI Give Day

Current Areas of Focus

We strive to offer outstanding scholarly and educational programming for our university and the local, regional, national, and international communities it serves. As we continue to build the institute, we ask for your support – to design innovative courses for our students, develop study abroad opportunities, offer professional development opportunities for our educators, and to offer scholarly and relevant public programming.

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.

Human Rights (HR) Minor: Starting fall 2021, students can also earn a minor in Human Rights at WWU. It’s a combined program of study offered in cooperation with Fairhaven College. Human rights education integrates exploration of the questions of human freedom at the core of traditional liberal arts education with a critical examination of the institutions designed to promote and protect human freedom in the past and in the contemporary world. Because of its flexibility, the minor in Human Rights course of study complements any majors within the University.

Noémi Ban Memorial Speaker Series: In honor of the life and legacy of local Holocaust survivor Noémi Ban (1922-2019), we are raising funds to provide exceptional scholarly and educational programming through public lectures and performances. During the pandemic our programming has been online, allowing us to partner with both local and national organizations. We have hosted scholars, museum educators and film directors in discussing a range of topics, from the infamous legacy of the Wannsee Conference to the memory of the Franco dictatorship in Spain.

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. A second Regional Institute at WWU will be hosted with Northwestern University during the 2022-2023 academic year. During the pandemic our programming has been online, thus allowing us to connect with other universities (e.g. University of Minnesota) and partnering on programs.

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 June 2021, the Wolpow Institute will co-sponsor a virtual talk at CBI by author Jonathan Ned.

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 the 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 Support: 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.

We much appreciate your generosity!