Shoah announces new research center

On Friday, the USC Shoah Foundation commemorated its 20th anniversary with an event featuring trustee Steven Spielberg and USC President C. L. Max Nikias.

Building upon its current success, the Shoah Foundation  announced its intent to establish the Center for Advanced Genocide Research. The center will be housed within the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences with the purpose of examining the causes of genocide and methods of prevention and intervention.

“We are honored to establish this vital center of scholarship and learning,” Nikias said. “The University of Southern California is, and will always remain, committed to creating a world freed from genocide. Through the Center for Advanced Genocide Research, we resolve to have a global impact on the real-world problem of genocide.”

Over the past 20 years, the Shoah Foundation has archived nearly 52,000 audiovisual interviews with genocide survivors and witnesses. These testimonies include ones from the Holocaust, the Rwandan Tutsi genocide and as of last Thursday, the Armenian genocide. The new center will give USC the unique privilege of being the only private research institution with this original material.

Steven A. Kay, dean of the Dornsife College, commentated the event and hosted a panel of three of the Shoah Foundation’s key members: Stephen D. Smith, executive director, Wolf Gruner, soon-to-be director of the new center and Beth Meyerowitz, vice provost of Faculty Affairs.

“By combining ongoing research with the vast amounts of information already collected by the USC Shoah Foundation, I believe we will be able to decode the conditions that can lead to genocide,” Kay said.

The members of the panel commented on the significance of the center and the ways in which it will utilize the archive in conjunction with interdisciplinary study. Through the center, experts across different fields will be challenged to explore and decode the roots of genocide.

“We’ve amassed something greater than the sum of its parts,” Smith said. “Each one of those individual stories was creating the opportunity to dig very deeply into the granularity of genocide. By building on the robust genocide research opportunities already in place at USC, we will be in a position to have a real impact in the field.”

The Center of Advanced Genocide Research will facilitate and continue the impressive research of the USC Shoah Foundation.

“The world now has a beacon of hope in breaking the cycle that leads to mass violence,” Spielberg said. “The USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, where steps incremental and monumental will be made in this march to make ‘Never Again’ a reality.”