The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention works closely with the AUP community by stimulating the integration of the archives into AUP classes as well as produce innovative courses in line with the mission of the Center to explore the themes of genocide, mass violence and human rights. The Center also designs and leads study trips providing students with a hands-on opportunity to reflect upon the processes of mass violence and how acts of violence are remembered in the present.


AUP Courses That Have Been Developed in Collaboration with the Center

Coexistence and Religion (Waddick Doyle, Communications, Media and Culture)

Understanding Genocide (Brian Schiff, Psychology, Health and Gender)

Provocative Witness: Cinema and Genocide (Marie Regan, Communication, Media and Culture)

Twentieth-Century European Jewish History (Constance Pâris de Bollardière, The Schaeffer Center)

The Armenian Genocide: History, Politics and Memories (Boris Adjemian, Director of the Nubar Library)


Study Trips

Holocaust History and Memory in Poland

Spring 2024

Led by Profs Constance Pâris de Bollardière, Brian Schiff and Caroline Laurent.

During this study trip, students will learn about Polish Jewish life before the Holocaust in Warsaw and its surroundings - here through the case study of the nearby town of Otwock. They will also learn about the Holocaust in Poland, with a strong focus on the Warsaw ghetto and the killing center of Treblinka. The trip also focuses on various sites of social and public memory, with particular attention to the public display and representation of traumatic historical events within museums, memorials and monuments. The trip will address issues of social construction and how the processes of memorialization and "museumification" following mass atrocity create possible sites of restorative justice and collective witnessing. The Shoah serves as the point of reflection on how memory is materialized and put into social practice. How is history told and displayed and to what end? What are the political stakes of Holocaust memory in present day Poland? Why are sites of destruction increasingly popular tourist destinations?

Warsaw and Treblinka

Fall 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022

Over a long weekend in October, students from AUP’s FirstBridge and International and Comparative Politics classes flew to Poland, taken on an emotional journey into the past as they learn about the development and memory of the Shoah. Led by Professors Charles Talcott and Brian Schiff and the Center’s Assistant Director Constance Pâris de Bollardière, students were immersed in prewar and wartime Jewish life in Poland and dedicate time to critical thinking on contemporary memorial issues in the country. They were taken to different sites, including the former Warsaw Ghetto, the new Polin Museum and the Treblinka death camp. The trip finished at the city of Otwock, where students were able to meet with local activists of the Forum for Dialogue who speak about their efforts to commemorate the exterminated Jewish community of their town.

The trip was described as “grounding”, “emotional” and “mind-blowing” by attending students, and had a profound effect on all involved. Students’ responses are as diverse as their backgrounds, but every person comes away from their experience in Poland with a life-changing shift in perspective.

Croatia Practicum: Conflict in the Cosmopolitan Imagination

Summer 2022

This summer course, held in Paris and in Cres, Croatia, explored various dimensions of what the historian Itzvan Hont calls “the permanent crisis of a divided mankind”, the enduring tension or contradiction between our mixed belongings – our cosmopolitan belonging as natural and moral beings to humanity on one hnd, and our segmented and conflicted socially constructed belongings such as nationality or ethnicity on the other. It explored this problem through philosophical investigation, theoretical and historical studies of nationalism, mass violence and inter-group conflicts, as well as the role of collective memories in the perpetuation of conflict. The former Yugoslavia was the core empirical focus on the course as well as the international conference Reinventing/Reconstructing Cosmopolitanism in Contested Spaces and Post-Conflict Zones in Cres. Students were able to participate in the conference and had the unique opportunity to hear from and dialogue with ex-Yugoslav psychologists, historians and social scientists.

Krakow and Auschwitz

Spring 2016, 2018, Fall 2021

After intensive in-class study of the Holocaust, AUP students use this trip to look deeply into the concept of social memory, particularly in terms of how historical events are represented in monuments and memorials, and to reflect upon the practical implementation of memory, the role of history tourism, and the meaning of historical sites for visitors. With Professor Charles Talcott and Brian Schiff, students raised the following questions: Why are sites of destruction popular tourist destinations? How is history told and to what end? What effect do these representations (and preservations) have on the personal meaning of history?


Spring 2019

This two-day trip, led by the Center’s Assistant Director, Constance Pâris de Bollardière and Professor Brian Schiff, enabled students from AUP’s Twentieth-Century European Jewish history course and Life Stories to discover the history and memory of Berlin’s Jewish past. Students went to visit synagogues, museums, former social institutions and cemeteries and thereby were able to learn about how the Shoah unfolded in the center of the Third Reich and question the current memorial stakes. The trip was an opportunity for students to witness current Berlin Jewish life and culture, which has been recently revived. Along the trip, students had the chance to grasp major social, cultural and political aspects of the 20th-Century Jewish history and of the Shoah, and to question issues related to its memorialization.