Scott Straus, Professor of Political Science and International Studies at UW-Madison, was appointed as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council by President Barack Obama at the end of December. The Council, which established and serves as the Board of Trustees for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, plays an important role in genocide prevention discussions today. Dr. Straus says, “The Museum has been a pioneer in linking the lessons of the Holocaust to issues of contemporary genocide and mass atrocity. I think my appointment is reflective of a continued commitment in that regard.”
The White House notified Dr. Straus of his appointment a few days before the New Year. He is “thrilled and honored to serve our country in this capacity” and hopes “to honor the memory of the Holocaust and to encourage the Museum to continue to focus on contemporary issues of genocide and mass atrocity.”
Dr. Straus worked as a freelance journalist in East and Central Africa in the mid-1990s and says he has “been devoted to understand[ing] genocide and mass violence since those formative experiences.” He has written several award-winning books on genocide and mass atrocities, including The Order of Genocide: Race, Power and War in Rwanda and Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa, both published by Cornell University Press.
This is not Dr. Straus’ first experience with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 2011, he was named a Winnick Fellow at the Museum. Another collaboration with the Museum over the past three years resulted in the textbook Fundamentals of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention. Dr. Straus describes the work as “a textbook on atrocity prevention that is accessible to policy makers and a lay audience” and states that working on it “was a rewarding experience that will inform my work on the Council.”
Dr. Straus has been a professor at the UW since 2004, and currently serves as Associate Chair/Director of Graduate Studies of Political Science. He is “grateful to the university for supporting [his] research and teaching on genocide” and hopes that through his service on the Council he can “reaffirm the great values that underpin the Wisconsin Idea.”