University of Wisconsin-Madison Political Science Professor Scott Straus created and coordinated a workshop in October to help agencies within the U.S. government better understand the causes of genocide and ways to suppress it.
Straus travelled to Washington, D.C., in late October after the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum contacted him to conduct a day-long training session for 75 officials from the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense, among many other organizations, to educate them on the negative effects of genocide and how to prevent it.
Straus said his interest in genocide and its causes and effects stems from his experiences as a reporter during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, which continue to influence his research on genocide, violence, human rights and African politics, according to a statement released by the university.
Straus used his expertise on genocide to create a program to make sure government officials understand the importance of recognizing genocide before it is too late.
“We designed a program that was a comprehensive overview of the field of genocide studies that are the key pieces of info they need to know,” Straus said.
Straus brought in leading experts to help him teach the workshop, which focused on what genocide is and how to recognize the early signs to defeat genocide before it starts.
The workshop came as a result of a directive signed by President Barack Obama last spring, stating prevention of genocide is of national security and moral importance, according to the statement.
Straus said he designed the seminar to help government agencies better understand genocide studies so they can develop their own training program based on the information learned in his workshop.
Straus said he has high hopes for the effects of his research and work with the government on the understanding of genocide.
“I hope that policy makers are better informed about the field of genocide studies and that policy makers have a scholar’s perspective on concepts, explanations and prevention,” Straus said.