By Aram Arkun
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Armenian Studies is a small field, with a small number of academic specialists. The number of academic specialists on the Armenian Genocide is even smaller, and there are very few positions for them at universities in the United States. While this situation is unlikely to change drastically, occasionally efforts are made to initiate new academic programs and positions. Nova Southeastern University appears on the verge of making such an effort, if sufficient support and funding are found.
Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a relatively young university, founded in 1964, but it already is fairly large, with more than 28,000 students. Dr. Susanne Marshall, senior associate dean of operations and student services at NSU, explained that the university has had graduate programs in conflict resolution for many years. There are more than 800 students enrolled in them now. The focus of these programs has been on the international and governmental level. A few years ago, NSU hired a young faculty member, Jason J. Campbell, as a professor in these programs. Campbell had already founded a non-profit activist organization, the Institute for Genocide Awareness and Applied Research, in 2009. His research happened to focus on genocide and he suggested that it needed to be a more defined curricular focus. NSU agreed. (Despite repeated efforts to contact him, Campbell was unavailable to be interviewed for this article.)
It was already necessary to provide historical and sociopolitical backgrounds for analysis in the multidisciplinary field of conflict analysis, so genocide studies fit in well here, but the university wishes to expand its offerings further. Marshall said, “We would like to have a more independent framework for genocide studies and genocide prevention, and establish a separate degree program, or at least a concentration in master’s and doctoral programs. We are not quite there yet.”
The interest in Armenia came about through research into modern genocide. Marshall points out that “as Dr. Campbell demonstrates in his research, the Armenian Genocide is a blueprint for the genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries. You see all the factors here mirrored in later genocides, so you can learn a lot about prediction and prevention by studying this genocide.” In this sense, Marshall said, in-depth studies of the factors leading up to the Armenian Genocide can be quite useful. The approach at NSU is an activist one, so graduate students want to learn what can be done for prevention.