LOS ANGELES — The University of Southern California (USC) Shoah Foundation is joining forces with an organization that is dedicated to bringing curriculum about the World War I-era Armenian Genocide into high schools across the United States.
The relationship between the Shoah Foundation and The Genocide Education Project (or “GenEd”) is in its infancy, but Sedda Antekelian, the Institute’s Education and Outreach Specialist for the Armenian Genocide, says the collaboration will significantly expand the reach of the voices of Armenian Genocide survivors and eyewitnesses.
“It will really help us humanize the story of the genocide of the Armenian people,” she said. “And it will help students realize its relevance to their own lives.”
Between 1915 and 1923, up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in death marches and massacres at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, who were allied with the German Empire during World War I.
The Genocide Education Project was established in the early 2000s in response to a realization that — although a California law mandating the teaching of the Armenian Genocide had passed in the mid-1980s — few history educators were actually covering the material.
“They were unaware of this history altogether, they never learned it growing up, they didn’t learn it when they were getting their teaching certificates — most of them weren’t clear on the mandate, and they were justifiably reluctant to teach such a sensitive topic without the proper preparation,” said Roxanne Makasdjian, GenEd’s executive director, who said the organization surveyed San Francisco Bay Area school districts in 2000. “There wasn’t any dedicated funding, training, or age-appropriate materials at the time.”