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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: MAMS 551
Course Title: The Problem of Genocide
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

An investigation of genocide from a multidisciplinary perspective. The course explores theoretical explanations for genocide, ethnic cleansings, and political mass killing. Students examine several historical case studies and consider what societies can do to remember and to prevent genocide.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Governments, Citizens and Genocide: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approach
By Alvarex, Alex (Indiana (2001))
Ordinary Men
By Browning, C. (Harper (1993))
The Path to Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution
By Browning, C. (Cambridge University Press (1995))
The Spectre of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective
By Gelately, Robert & Ben Kiernan eds (Cambridge (2003))
Defining the Horrific
By Hewitt, William (Prentice Hall (2004))
Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction
By Jones, Adam (Routledge (2006))
Mass Hate: The Global Rise of Genocide and Terror
By Kressel, Neil (Westview (2002))
Between Vengeance and Forgiveness
By Minow, M. and R. Goldstone (Beacon (1999))
Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on Comparative Genocide, 2nd Ed.
By Rosenbaum, A. (Westview Press (2001))
The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence
By Staub, E. ((1989))
The Genocide Studies Reader
By Totten, Samuel & Paul Bartrop eds (Routledge (2009))
Century of Genocide: Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Views, 3rd Ed.
By Totten, S. Parsons, W.S. & Charny, I.W. eds (Routledge (2009))
Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century
By Valentino, Benjamin ((2004))
Course Objectives
  • To analyze the problem of genocide and ethnic cleansing in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
  • To develop a working definition of the term genocide to distinguish it from other forms of mass killing.
  • To explore psychological, political and sociological explanations for genocide and ethnic cleansing.
  • To investigate several past and contemporary episodes of genocide, examining the roles played by perpetrators, victims and bystanders and consider issues of legal and moral responsibility.
  • To examine efforts to remember the victims of genocide and efforts to prevent future episodes of genocide from taking place.
  • To develop a deeper appreciation of the dangers of unchecked ethnocentrism and prejudice.
Measurable Learning Outcomes:
  • Compare and contrast scholarly and legal definitions of genocide and assess their usefulness.
  • Describe and assess the major theories of genocide and mass killing from the fields of political science, sociology and psychology.
  • Identify and explain significant events in the history of genocide, including the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia.
  • Apply theories of genocide to historical cases discussed in class.
  • Describe and analyze responses to genocide, including reparations, truth commissions and tribunals.
  • Explain and assess proposed methods of preventing future occurrences of genocide.
Topical Outline:
  • Defining genocide
  • Explaining genocide & political mass killing
  • Historical case studies
    • Armenian Genocide
    • Holocaust
    • Famine in the Ukraine
  • Contemporary case studies
    • Killing Fields of Cambodia
    • Rwanda  
    • Ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia
    • Darfur
  • Responses to genocide & political mass killing
    • International criminal tribunals
    • Trials in national courts
    • Truth Commissions
  • Preventing and Intervention
    • Early warning
    • Intervention

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 20

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Brian Kessel Date: October 21, 2011
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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