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U-Mass Professor to Lecture for Genocide Awareness Week

(Posted April 4, 2011)

Ervin Staub, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Massachusetts

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College has created a schedule of events focused on genocide awareness, including a keynote lecture on "Active Bystandership" by Ervin Staub, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 7 in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Academic Center on the Juniata campus.

Staub will follow up his lecture with a 90-minute discussion session on the role of leaders and citizens in times of crisis at 11:30 a.m., Friday April 8, in Ellis Hall ballroom. The issues raised also will focus on early prevention of violence between groups, dialogue, negotiation and third-party engagement. "Unlock Your Voice," a program of public readings from literature, will be at 8 p.m. in the Ellis Hall ballroom.

Both events with Staub are free and open to the public. Other events that are open to the public will be noted below.

"Genocide is seen as a phenomenon beyond comprehension but that also strengthens the false notion that genocide is a crime beyond prevention," says Lily Kruglak, a senior from Vienna, Va. and a member of PAX-O the Juniata student club for peace studies. "We want to utilize this period of time to demystify genocide. In not being a passive bystander to violence and injustice, individuals and communities have the capacity to interrupt the escalation of violence that (can) lead to genocide."

Guest speaker Ervin Straub is a renowned author and academic who helped the state of California develop a training program for use of force by police officers after the Rodney King incident. He has written four books, including " The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Group Violence," "The Psychology of Good and Evil," "Overcoming Evil: Genocide, Violent Conflict and Terrorism."

Straub is a native of Hungary, where he lived, first under Nazism and then communism, until he was 18 years old. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1962 from the University of Minnesota, and went on to earn a doctorate from Stanford University in 1965. He also attended universities in Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford, the University of Hawaii and the London School of Economic and Political Science.

The two opening lectures on active bystandership will open a weeklong series of events at Juniata, starting Monday April 11.

The events for the week are sponsored by the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Hillel, PAX-O, and the Departments of Politics, Religion, Theatre, Psychology, Communication and History.

Throughout the entire week of April 7-14, the college will encourage students and faculty to take part in a project designed to teach participants how genocides escalate and how passivity can contribute to continued killings. The project will assign Rwandan identities to participants and designate areas of the college campus to correspond with areas in Rwanda. Each day of the project will reveal how far the Rwandan genocide has progressed and how each participant identity has been affected by the genocide.

The first event for Genocide Awareness Week that is open to the public is a Living Map performance at 11:30 a.m. in the plaza in front of Ellis Hall. The performance will create a map of the world with an interactive street performance with historical and contemporary genocides marked on the map.

"This gives us the opportunity to show how genocide can create regional instability, such as the genocide in Rwanda impacting the current conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as showing how types of genocide, such as genocide of indigenous peoples in Australia and the Americas, can cross great geographical distances," explains Kruglak.

At 7 p.m., a film, "One Survivor Remembers," a documentary about the Holocaust, will be shown in 402 Good Hall. After the movie, a discussion of the film's oral history testimony will ensue. The discussion will be led by Alison Fletcher, assistant professor of history. Fletcher teaches a Juniata course called Crimes Against Humanity.

On Tuesday, April 12, at 11:30 a.m., the PAX-O group will organize a "die-in with the students participating in the Rwandan identity project.

Later in the afternoon, at 4 p.m., students will stage an art activism piece called "One Million Bones." By raising money, students can donate one bone in a large art project where 1 million symbolic bones will be laid out on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to protest genocide around the world.

On Wednesday, April 13, students will be handing out "conflict minerals" stickers to raise awareness about rare earths and minerals used in the manufacture of electronic devices that can be sold by poor, or civil war-torn countries to fund acts of terror and sexual crimes. The stickers can be used on cell phones, laptops or iPads and iPods.

At 7 p.m., the film "Sometimes in April," a movie depicting the Rwandan genocide of 1994, starring Idris Elba, Jeanne Butera and Debra Winger, will be shown in Room 422 in Good Hall.

Most of the week's events will end Thursday, April 14, with a memorial display in the lobby of the von Liebig Center for Science, which will be open all day. Students also will staff an information table on the central quad from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. At 9 p.m., there will be a candlelight vigil on the quad in front of Rosenberger Auditorium.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.