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Our History

In the early 1990s, The Zoryan Institute had a vision of creating a unique course on comparative genocide studies to fill a gap in the traditional university curriculum.


This vision was finally realized in 2001 after securing the human and financial resources needed based on the pedagogical concept and the course syllabus created by the Program Development Committee and Curriculum Advisory Committee.


In 2002, the Genocide and Human Rights University Program (GHRUP) was launched in Toronto.


In its inaugural year, the GHRUP attracted students from Armenia, Australia, Canada, England, France, Japan and the United States. Some of the world’s foremost experts in genocide and human rights studies were invited to be instructors in the program, including Dr. Taner Akçam, Dr. Yair Auron, Dr. Frank Chalk, Dr. Vahakn Dadrian, Dr. Lorne Shirinian, Dr. Roger Smith, and Dr. Khachig Tölölyan.

To date over 400 students from 40 countries have completed the GHRUP. The extraordinary shared experiences of students, faculty, and staff have resulted in the benefit of establishing strong personal ties and friendships, and the development of networks which have extended well beyond the classroom.


Perhaps the greatest benefit of launching the GHRUP has been its graduates, who have gone on to research, publish, teach and raise awareness about the nature of genocide, the importance of human rights, and the necessity of genocide prevention.  Over 70 graduates of the program are now working professionally as teachers, researchers and curators on the subject.

The GHRUP continues to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of a future generation of scholars and practitioners in the field of genocide and human rights studies. Since its inaugural year, the Program has attracted a range of faculty members to offer broad perspectives on both well-established and emerging topics in the field. In recent years, as issues such as climate change, injustices towards Indigenous peoples, and rising nationalism and right-wing extremism have been at the forefront of public discussion, modules of the program have been added and/or adjusted to explore these issues as they relate to genocide and human rights.

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