Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilisation 2015, USA

After quite the hiatus I am pleased to say that my Master's dissertation is submitted and I have a little more time in the week to concentrate on other things, such as updating my blog. It's been an incredibly busy two months and I have had the privilege of participating in several events and activities related to Holocaust education. This is the first of two 'summer recap' blogs.

Last year I was granted the position of Administrator for the Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilisation that took place on my current campus: Royal Holloway, University of London. Towards the beginning of this year, I received an email calling for applications to its sister Institute based at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA. Despite not yet attaining my Master's degree, I thought there would be no harm in submitting an application, citing my experience as an Administrator of the programme as well as my relevant volunteering experience and conference papers. To my utter surprise and delight, I was one of 24 applicants selected for the course (which just goes to show how valuable volunteering and work experience can be, amongst other things!).

The Institute took place from 22 June - 3 July on the main campus in Evanston, a small town just north of Chicago. The course was mainly comprised of 90-minute seminars and discussions, but also included a panel discussion, special evening sessions and excursions to Chicago and the Illinois Holocaust Museum. A total of nine different topics were covered, ranging from a single introductory session to six in-depth sessions:
- Holocaust History (Christopher Browning)
- Holocaust Literature (Sara Horowitz)
- Judaism as a Religion (Roger Brooks)
- Gender and the Holocaust (Wendy Lower)
- Modern Jewish History (Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern)
- Digital Humanities and the Holocaust (Paul Jaskot)
- Art and the Holocaust (Paul Jaskot)
- Ethics and the Holocaust (John Roth)
- Holocaust Film (Sabine Hake)

We also had the privilege to meet and speak to Theodore Zev Weiss, founder of the Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern University, himself a Holocaust survivor.

Fellows of the Summer Institute 2015

Last year's Summer Institute at Royal Holloway saw a much more diverse group in terms of nationality - but then again, the United Kingdom is considerably smaller than America! Therefore, most participants are based at universities and institutions across North America, but Fellows also came from universities in Colombia, Italy, Poland and Ireland. Each participant brought a different dynamic to the group through research areas such as history, philosophy, gender studies, literature and Jewish studies. I felt incredibly lucky to be part of such an interesting, supportive group of people, and feel that I have made some lasting transatlantic connections and friendships!

The Summer Institute was a fantastic experience and I was grateful for the opportunity to study abroad, if only for a short while. The Institutes are a brilliant way for scholars in different areas to come together to learn and discuss important aspects of the Holocaust and Jewish culture and civilisation, expanding on their knowledge and gaining an insight into current research in a wide variety of areas. The scholars that are employed to teach these courses are worldwide experts in their respective fields and it was truly an honour to be able to listen and engage in conversation with them. Northwestern University and Royal Holloway are looking to create another European Summer Institute together in the near future and I look forward to the continuation, and possible expansion, of this partnership.