Penn State Hazleton professor chosen for Holocaust education program

HAZLETON, Pa. — Michael Polgar, associate professor of sociology at Penn State Hazleton, has been selected as a participant in the 2017 Memorial Library Summer Seminar on Holocaust Education. The seminar is sponsored by the Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI).

The 12-day program, “An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into Teaching the Holocaust,” will be held in New York City in late June. The seminar will help teachers who include Holocaust studies in their curricula explore methods of teaching and inquiry into the topics surrounding the Holocaust.

The seminar encourages teachers to think creatively and collaboratively about how they design and deliver curricula related to the Holocaust, genocide and social justice. Participants become adept at dealing with difficult material and discover how writing, dialogue and inquiry can help motivate students toward social action. Participants began work with an online discussion of books by Professor Sondra Perl and Olga Lengyel, after whom the institute was named.

The seminar includes testimony from Holocaust survivors, workshops by scholars and artists, a day at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and visits to historic sites and cultural events. 

This year’s program at TOLI brings together 26 Holocaust and social-justice educators from across the United States and around the world. Participant disciplines include United States and world history, English, sociology, psychology, education, ethics, drama, criminal justice and composition studies. This diversity reflects the fact that Holocaust studies are part of many areas of teaching and research, including history, sociology, writing, law, social justice and cultural studies.

Polgar and his fellow participants will examine numerous texts, artifacts, poems and images and discuss their thoughts, insights, experiences and personal reflections. 

“I am honored and privileged to be chosen for TOLI’s unique and prestigious summer seminar and professional development program,” Polgar said. “I anticipate learning to integrate powerful and important curricular innovations to help all of us teach about the Holocaust and human rights. I will share my skills with students and teachers, especially at Penn State.”

“I am also learning that we are now able to ‘Teach the Shoah (Holocaust)’ from a position of strength,” Polgar added, referring to TeachtheShoah.org. “Helping teachers learn and share information about problems related to genocide can help all of us to learn about traumatic events without traumatizing students.”

In the summer of 2015, Polgar was a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Belfer Teaching Fellow. He also has taken a variety of courses to broaden the methods he uses to teach about the Holocaust, including educational resources supported by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, and the Anti-Defamation League.

Last Updated June 01, 2017