Study Abroad Spotlight: I-witness Field School

I-witness Field School 

Berlin Memorial to Murdered Jews

Memorial to the Murdered Jews, Berlin. Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Institutional Association: University of Victoria, Canada

Director: Prof. Helga Thorson

Program Website:

Program Description:By analyzing what Andreas Huyssen has termed “present pasts,” students have the opportunity to explore how the past is negotiated in the present and, specifically, how issues such as racism, antisemitism, and homophobia are addressed in four European countries today. This 3-unit field school analyzes the ways in which the Holocaust is memorialized in Central Europe and builds an understanding of how memories of the Holocaust are relevant in today’s world. The course promotes intercultural learning through a variety of activities including joint workshops with European students and visits to memorial sites, museums, and monuments of the Holocaust. Upon return to Canada, students are expected to share their experiences through formal presentations and discussions on campus, in high schools, and with the local community.

How does this program benefit students?

Students will:

  • observe how the Holocaust has been memorialized in Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands  

  • explore how memorialization changes over time and place 

  • understand the developmental stages of genocide 

  • discover how various groups were affected by the Holocaust 

  • acquire a deeper understanding of antisemitism, racism, religious intolerance, homophobia, and the stigmatization of the mentally and physically disabled communities 

  • participate in the ongoing intercultural dialogue of the Holocaust  

  • reflect on the consequences of hatred 

What have students enjoyed most about the program?As one student put it: "It can bring you to a place that most classrooms can't." 

The I-witness will run again in 2022, please visit the program website for more information.

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