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Professor Completes Fellowship to Promote Atrocity Prevention

Dr. Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm
Dr. Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm

Dr. Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm, a professor of public affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has completed a one-year non-resident fellowship with the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention at Binghamton University in New York.

The Charles E. Scheidt Faculty Fellows in Atrocity Prevention program was created to engage faculty in a guided process of learning and exploration of the potential for their own disciplines to contribute to atrocity prevention.

“Through building a community of about two dozen faculty members from across the country from a broad range of disciplines, we studied the state of academic research on atrocity prevention and supported each other in developing new pedagogy,” Wiebelhaus-Brahm said.

Fellows come from a wide range of academic disciplines, including history, nursing, theater, education, business, data science, comparative literature, language and cultural studies, anthropology, political science, public administration, computer science, and environmental studies.

Fellows learn from I-GMAP’s faculty, staff, and practitioners resident at the Institute as well as each other. The program culminates with each faculty member developing or modifying at least one of their own courses to integrate an atrocity prevention lens, including designing relevant class activities and assessment tools.

The goal of the program is for college students to learn effective strategies to prevent atrocities and violence through the courses created and modified by Scheidt Faculty Fellows. Thus, more students will be asked to consider how they can contribute to the prevention of mass atrocities and other forms of identity-based violence throughout their educational and professional careers.

One other perk was that, after an academic year of virtual interaction, the fellowship culminated with attendance at the Frontiers of Prevention international forum hosted by I-GMAP at Binghamton University. This year, the keynote was given by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, who co-founded Rappler, the top digital only news site that is leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines.

Wiebelhaus-Brahm is currently revising his international human rights course, which will be offered this fall (POLS 3308), to consider the theory and practice of atrocity prevention. He estimates there are three additional courses he will restructure in the coming years with the knowledge he gained from the fellowship.

“I’m really glad that I did this fellowship because it got me excited about revising and rejuvenating my classes,” he said. “Often, these classes can be very heavy, and dwell on the worst of humanity. I do not mean to diminish the suffering that happens around the world, but focusing on what interventions can happen to prevent or curtail violence and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again is empowering. I want students to think about what we can do when we see human rights violations. The assignments I’m developing will focus on what students can do in their communities and in society in general to help prevent future violence.”