International Studies and HGS: Meant to Be Together

When you pick our fields of study and look at classes, we tend to look at those that are recommended or interest us in some capacity. It would seem strange for some to consider Holocaust and Genocide Studies (HGS) as being a class that would be chosen, but in fact it goes into multiple disciplines and offers insights into new avenues that one might not have considered before. As a student of International Studies and Women’s Studies, HGS fits perfectly into my disciplines for the fact that it falls into a wide variety of interests that I have, such as reconciliation, human rights, immigration. Those are just to name a few of the issues discussed within my disciplines, but there are many more. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like HGS fits, but I will happily give reasons why.

First, International Studiesis an approach that looks at issues that take place within the international realm. Those issues include, but are not limited to politics, social, economic, cultural difference, religious difference and much more. Some of those issues are routed in the history of the nations, as well as the typical way that nations tend to interact with one another concerning some of the said issues. A great example would be to think of Colonialism and the impact that it had on countries and civilizations, like the Europeans in Africa or the Spanish in Latin America. Actions were taken to establish force and dominance that when studied further, fall into the category of HGS since atrocities occurred in some manner. No one nation is to blame, but it was cycle that lasted for many years and is not until recently that we have had to look back at history and ask ourselves what the intent was and why those specific actions had to be taken. Germany faces this, when it comes to thinking of the Holocaust, the remnants of the tragedy still linger within the history of the country as well as having those physical reminders.

Second, when news of the actions befitting the possible description of a genocide, such as what took place in Rwanda with the Hutu and Tutsi, the international community must figure out a way to respond to what is taking place as well trying to understand why it is occurring in the first place. There is never simply a one-word answer to these events and one has to look at the country’s history to begin developing a picture of the events that eventually lead up to the ultimate event taking place. International Studies students study quite a bit of history and in some instances, we like to say that it likes to come back around and in many of these cases that looks true for the events have typically taken place before in some context. In our modern era some countries have started to look at their history and taken responsibility for what they did, but that is not heard about and not common enough for it to gain notice yet.

Third, HGS covers and allows us to study events that were most likely mentioned in a lecture, but not really discussed with further details and information. Students can become experts on countries or regions by understanding both the good and bad that occurred in those places. They can help prevent some of those actions from taking place again, as well as being more effective at negotiating and communicating with other countries, that may try to bring up past events to try and make it more favorable to them. Of course, policy experts, know these tricks well, but are well versed in their knowledge of the subject or subjects and are able to counter. An expert is effective without HGS, but with it they have an advantage over others within the same field of expertise.

Ultimately, students with a passion for learning about the international community should be intrigued to take HGS, even though it is not promoted or focused on within some programs. Like with most things, there are people who would not see it as being relevant or benefitting, but it does give you the insider information that professors are not able to cover within one class and allows you to explore the areas that you are interested in more. As a student of international studies, HGS has inspired me to look at some of the regions I am interested in and do more in depth research to the history of some of their wars, the outcomes, and how that has shaped the region to what it is today. By looking at the past, we can understand the present and HGS gives allows for that to happen in greater detail with greater understanding.


Relevant Articles:

Is Genocide Preventable?

Historical Sociology and International Relations: The Question of Genocide

 United Nations and the Rwandan Genocide


Resources: Editors. “Rwandan Genocide.” Accessed September 13, 2018.

Smallman, Shawn. “What Is International or Global Studies?” Intro to Global Studies. June 24, 2017. Accessed September 13, 2018.

Webster, Richard A., Harry Magdoff, and Charles E. Nowell. “Colonialism, Western.” Encyclopædia Britannica. August 18, 2017. Accessed September 13, 2018.

Layna is a Graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in international studies with a concentration in foreign policy and international relations, as well as her women’s studies certificate. She is an avid deep thinker, concerned with the changes in our global society, the relations between nations, the changing tide of politics and leadership, as well as the empowerment and unity of women globally. Besides what is mentioned, she has a wide variety of interests and passions that change and grow with time, as well as the events she
finds herself focusing on the most. Her background is filled with multiple anecdotes of living and traveling abroad, which those experiences have shaped who she is and influenced her thoughts and perceptions about the world, how we treat each other, and interact. Layna can typically be found reading about the history of global war, walking dogs, or enjoying nature.