Educators from Four Countries Travel to Houston to Study “Rescue, Responsibility, Restitution and Race”

HOUSTON, TX (June 26, 2012) – Teachers form across the United States and from three foreign countries will travel to Holocaust Museum Houston this July for an in-depth study of the Holocaust intended to help them teach that history to their students more effectively.


Dr. Samuel Totten 

Educators from Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and the United States will experience four days of interactive and educational training about the Holocaust and other genocides taught and explained by some of the field’s leading experts in the four-day Max M. Kaplan Summer Institute for Educators beginning July 10 at Holocaust Museum Houston.

“We want them to have not only the conceptual information but also materials that they can take into their classrooms and strategies for how to teach about the Holocaust and genocide in ways that will be meaningful and informative for their students,” said Dr. Mary Lee Webeck, the Museum’s director of education.

Speakers this year – focusing on the themes ““Rescue, Responsibility, Restitution and Race” – will include Anne Wilkes Tucker, Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Will Michels, photographer and Glassell School of Art instructor; Dr. Samuel Totten, chief co-editor of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, the official journal of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS); Karen Shawn, visiting associate professor of Jewish education in the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University; and Cherry Steinwender, Co-Executive Director, The Center for the Healing of Racism.

Totten will also speak at a public lecture on atrocities occurring in the Nuba Mountains, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on July 11, 2012 at the Museum’s Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater, in the Museum’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline, in Houston’s Museum District. Admission is $8 for non-members, $5 for members and $4 for students and seniors (age 65 and above). Seating is limited and advance registration is requested. Visit http://www.hmh.org/RegisterEvent.aspx to RSVP online.

Totten is a professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and has authored and edited many texts on the Holocaust and genocide used in classrooms around the world. During the summer of 2004, Totten served as one of the 24 investigators with the U.S. State Department's Atrocities Documentation Project interviewing black African refugees along the Chad/Sudan border to collect data to ascertain whether genocide had been perpetrated in Darfur. He has returned to Sudan several times since.

At a session held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, “War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath,” led by Tucker and Michels, educators will have the chance to examine photographs that deal with the long-term effects of war on communities and cultures. Participants will learn about the photographer’s perspective in times of war and conflict.

The session will encourage educators to understand images and spark conversation, “Sometimes people can understand a visual representation better than verbal ones,” said Tucker, “Discussions may be evoked, after students see photographs of a situation, that are different than reading a book, essay or poem. Photographs are another tool for learning.”

Tucker has been recognized many times for her contributions to the promotion of photography. Time magazine has highlighted her achievements and described her as “one whose taste is stately enough to embrace the 19th-century Japanese camera portrait but frisky enough to approve paparazzi shots from the Rome of La Dolce Vita.”

The institute also will host sessions centered on more recent genocides. Those discussions, led by Totten, will discuss the events surrounding recent genocides and, more importantly, the events that prompt genocides to happen. One session will center on the ongoing crimes in Sudan, “Genocide has a long, long history, but it is also a crime that continues to be perpetrated today. That impunity is a key concern, and it is evident in the case of Sudan,” Totten said.

An important aspect of Totten’s discussions will be the actions necessary for the prevention and solution to genocide, specifically how educators can take that information and present it to their students in a manner that triggers response and action. “The public – individual citizens working collectively – are the ones who are going to have to push, prod, cajole and badger their leaders and the leaders of the international community to act in a timely and effective fashion to halt genocide; otherwise, it's not likely to happen,” Totten said.

Among other discussions in the seminar will be a presentation by Chevra Kadisha, Houston’s Jewish burial society, and discussions of Jewish customs and how they were desecrated during the Holocaust.

This educator training program has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc., and is generously underwritten by the Max M. Kaplan Teacher Education Fund, the Fund for Educators in Honor of Stefi Altman and the Chevra Kadisha Holocaust Studies Scholarship Fund, with special thanks to United Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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