Research Feature

German-Canadian Studies

Melanie SchmollQ & A with Dr. Melanie Carina Schmoll, Political Scientist and Lecturer at the University of Hamburg, Germany

What is your current research project?

I just finished a pilot study comparing Holocaust Education in Alberta, Canada and Hamburg, Germany for which I received funding from the Spletzer Family Foundation. I am now starting to work on a project about academic teaching of the Holocaust across Canada. I am also working on a project about Holocaust Education in German Jewish schools. My new publication will be published 2019 in German. It’s called, “Holocaust Education Curriculum - An interdisciplinary teacher’s guide for all age groups.”

Where did you travel for your research?

For my research I travelled to Canada, mostly to Alberta. I conducted interviews and spoke to teachers, educators, and academics to gain the information for my study. I travelled a few times between July 2018 and December 2018. In September 2018, I presented the first results of my study at the “Treasury, Guardia, Cognitive Process: Memory Studies in Canada and Germany” conference in Winnipeg, organized by the University of Manitoba. My presentation was titled, “Holocaust Education in Canada and Germany or Does Canada do a better job than the country of perpetrators? A comparative pilot study project”. I also participated in the Holocaust Education Week organized by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Center in Toronto in November 2018. During this program I gave two public talks on the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

What will you do with this research?

The study, which was partly funded by the Spletzer Family Foundation, strove to gain an understanding of how Holocaust Education is taught in a least one province of Canada, as well as attempt to generate a hypothesis for my larger study that will examine Holocaust Education across the entire country. The current research status on teaching of the Holocaust in Canada is insufficient so my study marks a vital step for my next research project and is essential for me to continue this work.

What do you want others to understand about your work?

I see Holocaust Education as part of Global citizenship, the idea that all people have rights and civic responsibilities that come with being a member of the world. One’s identity transcends geography or political borders and responsibilities or rights are derived from membership in a broader class: humanity. In this view education plays a tremendous role to support peace and human rights education. Education is linked to an optimistic view on the world and social development, as well as individual liberty. Teachers are being given the responsibility of being social change agents.  Education is an important component to prevent conflicts. To prevent human rights violations and to build peace, knowledge is a powerful tool. Only if teachers are prepared and rooted in their academic education will they be able to teach the Holocaust. Then teachers will be able to help students to explore values like free speech, rule of law, individual liberty, and responsibility. I hope my work contributes to their work.