Genocide Education Project Establishes Course at University of Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island's Kingston campus. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


KINGSTON, I.R.—The University of Rhode Island is offering “The Armenian Experience: History and Culture,” a course on Armenian history, at its Kingston campus for the spring 2015 semester, beginning Jan. 26.

As part of its “GenEd-HigherEd” initiative, The Genocide Education Project Rhode Island branch co-chairs, Pauline Getzoyan and Esther Kalajian, developed and proposed the honors seminar course, which went through a rigorous approval process by the university during the fall semester. Getzoyan and Kalajian will teach the course, which will focus on diasporan studies as they relate to the Armenian experience. Topics will include an understanding of genocide and the implications of genocide on culture, identity, and religion.

The Genocide Education Project Rhode Island branch co-chairs, Esther Kalajian (left) and Pauline Getzoyan

The course will include a robust offering of guest speakers, including author Chris Bohjalian and filmmaker Talin Avakian, who will speak about “Literature and Film: An Author’s and Filmmaker’s Responsibility to Truth – Exploring history, fiction, and non-fiction;” Tom Zorabedian, Assistant Dean of the URI College of Arts and Sciences and the Harrington School of Communication and Media; Dr. Catherine Sama, professor of Italian at URI, who will speak about Armenians in the diaspora with a focus on Italy and about the subject of genocide in Italian literature and film; George Aghjayan and author/professor Marian MacCurdy, who will be part of a panel discussing “The Aftermath of Genocide: the Issue of Denial and Justice Specific to the Armenian Genocide;” Berge Zobian, owner of Gallery/Studio Z in Providence, RI, who will introduce the students to Armenian art and architecture, pre- and post-Genocide; and Charles Kalajian, who will introduce the students to Armenian musical instruments and the aural tradition of learning music, with assistance from Ken Kalajian and Leon Janikian.

“This course, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, is the realization of a ten-year-long dream for us, as genocide education advocates in the state of Rhode Island,” said Pauline Getzoyan. “Through this course, we intend to convey to students the many layers of history and social experience surrounding the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath. In doing so, we not only honor the memory of the victims, but we seek to help students make more informed choices as they become global citizens confronted with related issues.”

Funding for the course’s guest speakers is being generously provided by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Varnum Paul Fund. Additional financial support is generously provided by The Ararat Association of Rhode Island. URI Music Department chair, Joseph Parillo, is credited with promoting the development of the course within the university.

The Genocide Education Project is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that assists educators in teaching about human rights and genocide, particularly the Armenian Genocide, by developing and distributing instructional materials, providing access to teaching resources and organizing educational workshops.

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