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  • Writer's pictureInternational Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies


AUGUST 21, 2023: As the Zoryan Institute wraps up its 2023 Genocide and Human Rights University Program (GHRUP) after a phenomenal two-weeks back in the classroom, we are reminded about how impactful and valuable our community of genocide scholars are to the world and eachother.

With a smaller but brilliant group of graduate-level students this year, we had the unique and valuable experience of sharing in learning and learning spaces. As this was our first year back in person since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Zoryan Institute was excited to welcome faculty and students back to the University of Toronto campus.. Our 2023 graduates (endearingly nicknamed “GHRUPies”) stressed how impactful sharing a classroom, dorm, and social time was on their experience, and how the environment cultivated among the group made for rich and lively discussions both inside and outside of the classroom..

Many students noted the very alienating nature that work in genocide studies can be and expressed an immense gratitude for the staff and faculty but above all, their peers for creating a safe space to share and express ideas, opinions and personal anecdotes, and warm and welcoming atmosphere of the program.

Through this program, the students had the unique opportunity to learn from 16 faculty members, each leading scholars in their respective fields. This year's GHRUP class was composed of students from 10 countries across the world, each from different disciplinary backgrounds and bringing diverse perspectives and personal and professional experiences to the program.. Our students, faculty, and staff close this year feeling inspired by one another and motivated to dig into the important work of genocide scholarship.

Students shared some feedback with us throughout the program:

“This program is outstanding!”

“Engaging class discussions!”

“Diverse perspectives and disciplines, from both professors and classmates!”

“The community developed through the work of the staff and the willingness of the participants to be in community together, [without this the program] wouldn’t work as well as it does”

“My notebook is filled”

“I’m blown away”

“Brings together all these threads to form a tapestry of learning.”

“This experience has been transformative and exceeded all expectations.”

The Zoryan Institute organized several social activities for students to unwind and to get to know each other outside of the classroom. This included the famous annual trip to Niagara Falls and tours around Kensington Market and Toronto Island.

Professor Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, GHRUP 2023 Course Director

Prof. von Joeden-Forgey acted as this year's course director and was crucial to the classroom learning experience. She challenged and engaged students while managing to cultivate a warm and welcoming environment, despite the difficult subject matter.

Some photos of class discussions and presentations. Such a strong group of students speaking on and engaging in discourse on genocide cases, denial, international law, memorializing, and more!

Smiling faces celebrating their accomplishments at graduation dinner after completing two intense weeks of learning.

One of our favourite traditions at Zoryan Institute is the graduation dinner. We invite our wonderful donors, faculty, students, staff and community members to join us in our celebrations.

The knowledge generation and community building that the Genocide and Human Rights University Program provides to young scholars aims to support and guide them in the coming years. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our 2023 graduates!

A BIG thank you from THE ZORYAN TEAM to students, faculty, donors, and everyone in between for such a successful year!

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