Minor in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies

The Minor in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies offers students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the causes and consequences of past acts of genocide and to consider human rights law as a means of violence prevention.

The study of government-sponsored crimes against humanity, the perpetrator state, the impact of extreme nationalism, and the use of the media in spreading racism and prejudice, requires a multidisciplinary approach. The minor accordingly draws on faculty trained in different disciplines and fields of expertise, including the history of the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide, African history, law, literature and film of the Holocaust and other genocides, political theory, and religion. 

The program also introduces students to the various institutional means available for the prevention of genocide and other crimes against humanity, for the cultivation of good relations among ethnic, racial, national, and religious groups and the effective management of tensions among them, and for the promotion and protection of human rights. 

Completion of the Minor in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies helps students to prepare for graduate studies in history, political science, law, literature, and religion, in addition to careers in social and governmental service.

Learning Outcomes

Students will acquire the intellectual tools to analyze the multifaceted social, economic, cultural, civil, and political components of society under genocidal regimes, under repressive governments with poor human rights records, and the closely interconnected domestic and international environments in which such regimes operate. They will develop proficiency in analyzing government-citizen relations, including the extent to which individuals, societies, and domestic and international NGOs can intervene to promote and protect human rights and prevent genocide.

Students will learn to probe and evaluate moral, spiritual, and ethical issues that are central to learning about, and from, genocides and human rights violations. These include questions about the prevalence of dehumanization and its relationship to prejudice; the complicity of “ordinary people” regarding mass violence and genocide; and the role of other nations in condemning or ignoring genocide.

Students will closely and critically examine the Holocaust and other genocides in the context of modern European history and culture, with a strong focus on racism, antisemitism, the development of nationalist ideologies, and other root causes of genocide.

Students will learn to analyze the development and meaning of human rights and their relationship to genocide.

Through engaging and analyzing written texts, film and other images, monuments, and other cultural and artistic phenomena created during and after genocides, students will grapple with and seek to understand the wide-ranging and even strongly divergent ways in which people experienced and drew meaning from these events and their aftermath.


Students minoring in Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies will be required to complete six (4-credit) courses, three of which will be required, and three will be electives, distributed as follows and chosen in consultation with the student’s minor advisor.

Required Courses (may be taken in any order)

  • One Holocaust core course: CAS RN 384 History of the Holocaust
  • One Genocide core course: CAS HI 384 History of Genocide
  • One Human Rights core course: Students may choose one of the following courses to fulfill their core requirement for Human Rights:
    • CAS HI 346/CAS IR 348 History of International Human Rights
    • CAS HI 435 Histories of Human Rights
    • CAS IR 352/PO 378 International Human Rights: Applying Human Rights in Africa


  • One elective in Holocaust Studies
  • One elective in Genocide Studies
  • One additional elective

Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies minors may choose from the following courses to fulfill their elective requirements. Any other course must have the prior approval of the minor advisor.

Holocaust Studies

  • CAS HI 270 Twentieth-Century Germany
  • CAS HI 271 The Nazis
  • CAS HI 443 Jews and Germans
  • CAS RN 384 The Holocaust
  • CAS RN 439/STH TX 859/SPH LW 739 Jewish Bioethics and Holocaust Studies
  • CAS RN/XL/LI 459 Primo Levi Within Holocaust Literature
  • CAS RN 460/STH TX 805 Seminar on the Holocaust
  • CAS XL 281/RN 385/CI 269 Holocaust Literature and Film (in English translation)
  • CAS XL 387/CI 387/JS 367 The Holocaust Through Film

Genocide Studies

  • CAS HI 380 The Armenian Genocide
  • CAS HI 543/IR 437 The Prevention of Genocide
  • CAS LF 481/CI 490 Genocide in Literature and Film

Other Electives

  • CAS HI 346/CAS IR 348 History of International Human Rights
  • CAS HI 430 Comparative European Fascism
  • CAS HI 435 Histories of Human Rights
  • CAS HI 489/AA 489 The African Diaspora in the Americas
  • CAS IR 352/PO 378 International Human Rights: Applying Human Rights in Africa
  • CAS RN 249 Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism
  • GRS PO 760 Problems and Issues of Contemporary Africa
  • LAW JD 991 International Human Rights
  • SPH LW 740 Health and Human Rights