George Shirinian, the Executive Director of the Zoryan Institute, is one of four Armenian Genocide scholars who received awards from Lucie Gharibian, chairwoman of the Armenian Certified Teachers’ Association of Ontario. The other recipients were Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill Lorne Shirinian, and Alan Whitehorn. All of these scholars have been associated with the Zoryan Institute.
The ceremony took place on October 30, 2015 at the Holy Trinity Armenian Church. Dr. Kaprielian-Churchill has served as a board member of Zoryan Institute. Dr. George Shirinian was the first director of the Genocide and Human Rights University Program and has had one of his books published by Zoryan.
Dr. Alan Whitehorn collaborated with Zoryan in the preparation of his latest book. George Shirinian described his experience when he became a member of the Institute in 1986. He explained that in Zoryan, he had found an academic organization that shared his scholarly approach to Armenian issues, and was introduced to ideas about Armenian history, especially modern Armenian history, and its relationship to Armenian identity. Most importantly, he found that Zoryan was an organization that encouraged intellectual curiosity and provided vast information on issues related to Genocide and Diaspora Studies. He went on to serve as a volunteer, then was appointed to the Board of Directors, then was elected as its chairman, and since 1999 has been the Institute’s Executive Director.
Mr. Shirinian is the author of articles on the Armenian Genocide, co-editor of Studies in Comparative Genocide (Macmillan 1999), editor of The Asia Minor Catastrophe and the Ottoman Greek Genocide: Essays on Asia Minor, Pontos and Eastern Thrace, 1913-1923 (The Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center 2012), and a contributor to The Armenian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide (ABC-CLIO 2015). His most recent publication is the article, “Ermenileri Kurturan Müsülmanlar: Soykırım Günlerinde Insanlık Arayışı [Muslim Rescuers of Armenians: A Search for Humanity during Genocide], in Ermeni Soykirimi'nda Vicdan Ve Sorumluluk: Kurtulanlara Dair Yeni Arastimalar.
His scholarly work involves editing many books and articles for publication, including those by such distinguished scholars as Taner Akçam, Yair Auron, Vahakn Dadrian, and Wolfgang Gust. He is the administrator of the academic journal Genocide Studies International, published for the Zoryan Institute by the University of Toronto Press. Mr. Shirinian has organized many academic conferences and public lectures through the institute, and has represented the Institute by speaking at conferences and in university classrooms.
Of all of his activities, Mr. Shirinian says the one which gives him particular pride and satisfaction is being one of the founders and organizers of Zoryan’s annual Genocide and Human Rights University Program, run in partnership with the University of Toronto. This world renowned, graduate-level course in Comparative Genocide Studies was established in 2002.
Each year, some two dozen highly qualified students from all over the world come to Toronto to study the phenomenon of genocide in a comparative, multi-disciplinary manner with about a dozen of the world’s foremost experts in their particular specialties. It provides the opportunity for them to learn how the Armenian Genocide has come to be understood as the prototype of all genocides in the twentieth century. Once the students graduate from the program, it is Mr. Shirinian’s pleasure to stay in touch and continue to assist, advise and mentor them as they conduct their research and attain their degrees.
The event was organized by the Armenian Certified Teachers’ Association of Toronto. Keynote Speaker, Mher Karakashian – Chairman of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Central Committee of Canada – spoke of the important role educators have in teaching young people about the Armenian Genocide. He stated that learning about the past will keep the memory of genocide victims alive and prevent future atrocities from taking place. This is the aim of much of the work that scholars of the Zoryan Institute participate in. It is research, publication and education that are at the root of genocide scholarship and the Zoryan Institute plays an integral role in fostering and developing such projects.
The Institute is proud to have such strong connections with award-winning scholars of the Armenian Genocide and their significant contributions. The Zoryan Institute and its subsidiary, the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, is the first non-profit, international center devoted to the research and documentation of contemporary issues with a focus on Genocide, Diaspora and Armenia.