Our Mission and Goals

Birds eye view of the front of Wilson Library surrounded by bright green trees

Our Mission

In line with the university’s focus on academic excellence and inclusive achievement, we are committed to making a positive impact in the state and the world by engaging our students in cross- and interdisciplinary undergraduate programs and extra-curricular development opportunities. Our mission is to advance knowledge about the Holocaust and genocide, including ethnic and religious conflict as well as attendant human rights abuses. While the institute, first and foremost, focuses on Holocaust and genocide, broadening the scope to include crimes against humanity enables the university to take advantage of additional expertise among faculty, and to direct student and scholarly attention to issues rooted in and complementary to the study of the Holocaust and other mass atrocities. As a university-wide institute, the RWI allows for inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration between faculty and students across all colleges. Students engaged in studying the Holocaust, genocide, and crimes against humanity learn the critical tools to analyze, understand, and differentiate their underlying complexities and to work towards their prevention. As a community of life-long learners, we share and uphold Western’s community values and the institution’s commitment to equity and justice, and respect for the rights and dignity of others.

The institute is home to two academic minors, one in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and another in Human Rights, the latter offered in partnership with Fairhaven College

Our Goals

  • Provide our students with a global education rooted in the liberal arts that investigates the Holocaust, genocide, and crimes against humanity from various perspectives and academic disciplines
  • Address the state’s recommendation to teach the Holocaust in schools by giving future teachers this background
  • Promote the development of cohesive inter- and transdisciplinary courses with a strong commitment to innovative teaching and scholarly rigor
  • Broaden public awareness and knowledge of the Holocaust, genocide, and crimes against humanity by creating scholarly and educational programming

The distinguishing characteristics of the institute will include the following:

  • Establish and operate a university-wide academic institute for undergraduate students and faculty from a range of disciplines
  • Support and enhance curriculum development across disciplines and colleges, including an undergraduate minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and international study abroad opportunities
  • Support and enhance programming to receive and discuss multidisciplinary research as well as educational presentations and programs that will help students prepare to address the state’s recommendation to teach the Holocaust (RCW 28A.300.115) and the state’s mandate to teach tribal history, culture, and government (SB 5433)
  • Support curriculum development, teacher training, and educational programs commemorating Kristallnacht and Yom HaShoah for K-12 and higher education
  • Engage the greater Bellingham community and national/international partners