Our Director

Dr. Sandra Alfers

Dr. Sandra Alfers (she//sie) is Professor of German in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the Founding & Executive Director of The Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity (RWI) at Western Washington University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2003 and has worked at Western since 2008. In 2013, the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) designated Western’s German program a “National Center of Excellence.” A past recipient of an AATG/German government "TrainDaF" scholarship, Dr. Alfers has served the organization in diverse leadership positions on the regional level (e.g. Central PA Testing Chair). In addition, she has organized panels and designed/led workshops for K-12 educators and university faculty at regional and national conferences, also in her capacity as "Netzwerktrainerin" for the Goethe-Institut San Francisco. During her last sabbatical (2022), she was a Visiting Research Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany.

Dr. Alfers teaches a broad range of German language, culture, and literature courses on all levels of the curriculum. She has explored the uses of new technologies in the L2 classroom, developing a German mobile application as well as an online textbook for her third-year literature class. In her research, Dr. Alfers focuses on the literature of the Holocaust, particularly on German-language poetry written in Theresienstadt between 1941-1945. Her English- and German-language publications have appeared in international journals such as MonatshefteOxford German Studies, and Études Arméniennes Contemporaines, and her work on Theresienstadt has been translated into Czech for Terezínské Studie A Dokumenty. Dr. Alfers’ book on the German-Jewish activist and writer Else Dormitzer weiter schreiben. Leben und Lyrik der Else Dormitzer was published in late 2015 by Hentrich & Hentrich in Berlin, German, and the English-language version will be in print next year.

Under her leadership, WWU established The Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity in 2016 and became the first public university in the state of Washington to offer a minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She was a member of the academic council of the Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern University from 2015-2019, co-organizing and hosting the Foundation's inaugural regional institute in Bellingham in 2019.  She currently serves on the executive committee of the Consortium of Higher Education Centers for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies, the primary assembly and professional organization of center directors committed to securing, integrating, and advancing Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education on U.S. college campuses. In 2018, Dr. Alfers was named a recipient of the Rep. Timm Ormbsy Award for Faculty Citizenship, an award created to encourage, recognize, and honor exemplary civic engagement by faculty from each of the six public baccalaureates in Washington state.

Sandra smiling in a black shirt in front of a grey background.
Contact Dr. Alfers

Office location: Wilson Library 572

(360) 650-7786

Mailing address

Ray Wolpow Institute
516 High Street, MS 9182
Western Washington University,
Bellingham, WA 98225


Associate Director

Dr. Babafemi Akinrinade

Dr. Babafemi Akinrinade is a Professor of Human Rights at Fairhaven College at Western Washington University. His teaching and research focus on International Law, International and Regional Human Rights, the Holocaust and Mass Atrocities, Transitional Justice, and the Political and Socio-economic relations of African States. He teaches in the Law, Diversity and Justice Program of Fairhaven College and co-coordinates the World Issues Forum of Fairhaven College. Previously, Dr. Akinrinade taught for the University of Chicago’s Human Rights Program and Center for International Studies (2006-2008) and was a Lecturer in Law at the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria (1992-2002).

Dr. Akinrinade was an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow, Sawyer Seminar on Comparative Truth and Reconciliation Processes, within the Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago (2003-2004). He is the author of Atrocity Crimes, Atrocity Law and Justice in Africa (Eleven International Publishing, 2021) and Human Rights and State Collapse in Africa (Eleven International Publishing, 2009).

Dr. Akinrinade has participated in the 2015 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar, the 2018 Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust Faculty Seminar, and the 2021 Curt C. and Else Silberman Virtual Seminar for Faculty (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.), the 2017 Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows Program (the Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York), and the 2014 Holocaust Educational Foundation’s Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL).

Dr. Babafemi Akinrinade is a Professor of Human Rights at Fairhaven College.

Contact Dr. Akinrinade

Office location:
Wilson Library 572 by appt.
Fairhaven 337
(360) 650-2893

Mailing address

MS 9118, 516 High Street,
Western Washington University,
Bellingham, WA 98225

Minor Advising Office Hours

By appointment.

Visit Holocaust and Genocide Studies Minor (HGST) or Human Rights Minor


Administrative Assistant

Hailey Rieman

Hailey is an alumni of WWU with a major in Psychology and a minor in English. She's lived in Bellingham for 7 years and has loved the area. She is thrilled to be a part of the RWI team!





Hailey smiling in purple dress in front of green leaves

Contact Hailey

Office location:

Wilson Library 571
(360) 650-6190

Mailing address:

Western Washington University
516 High Street, MS 9182
Bellingham, WA 98225