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In the fall of 2007, the Arizona Holocaust Institute Initiative was established through a partnership between Arizona State University Jewish Studies, Northern Arizona University’s Martin-Springer Institute and the University of Arizona’s Center for Judaic Studies.
With encouragement from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the initiative facilitates an interdisciplinary and interagency dialogue among faculty, teachers, and Holocaust educators to improve and foster Holocaust education throughout Arizona. Initially, the initiative’s emphasis was on teacher education, but all disciplines and students can gain from the lessons of the Holocaust.
The inaugural meeting took place at ASU on Feb. 1, 2008. Subsequent meetings in Tucson and a summer retreat in Flagstaff have expanded the focus by working with like-minded educators from other higher educational institutions, middle and high schools.
Gretchen McAllister, director of the Martin-Springer Institute, is pleased with the initiative’s first year: “We began this enterprise with three people, myself included. Now we have over 50 persons from a variety of disciplines on our e-mail list and these numbers just keep growing.”
The Bureaus of Jewish Education in Phoenix and Tucson are among the participants. Additionally, faculty from community colleges, private colleges and high schools are actively involved in the initiative.
Aside from bringing Holocaust educators together, the Arizona Holocaust Institute Initiative expects to produce several recommendations for consideration by the state universities, including: the implementation of new courses, adaptations for Holocaust units in existing courses, and improved communication between the colleges of liberal arts and sciences and education on Holocaust curriculum development.
Michael Rubinoff of ASU Film and Media Studies, sees the initiative as a pilot program for other states to follow: “We first got together with this idea through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum regional summit in October 2007. I have already exchanged e-mails with colleagues in Colorado who seek to do a similar program.”