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The Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education annually provides educators, students, and community members a way to use the lessons of the Holocaust to empower themselves and others to challenge prejudices, violence, and other forms of dehumanization. Each conference offers opportunities to learn from major scholars whose research focuses on the Holocaust. Conference sessions also highlight interdisciplinary approaches to Holocaust and Genocide Studies, with especially strong attention given to the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professional studies (including that of education).
Through the strong and generous support of the Kurt Mayer Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies and other donors, the first Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education was held at Pacific Lutheran University in 2008. Recent conference themes include the Nazi plunder of Jewish valuables, along with belated efforts at restitution (2012), empowerment (2013), and survivors and rescuers (2014). Recent conference speakers or presenters include Deborah Lipstadt, Christopher Browning, Susannah Heschel, Pierre Sauvage, and Hartmut Lehmann. Holocaust survivors also share their unique and compelling stories at every conference, touching audience members of all ages with their honesty, courage, and commitment to educating others about the horrors of genocide.
Additionally, every Powell-Heller Conference showcases the research and projects of Pacific Lutheran University faculty, staff, and students. As the first university in the Pacific Northwest to offer a minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, PLU is proud of its long-standing record of excellence in Holocaust studies and its dedication to building partnerships with the Holocaust Center for Humanity and other organizations, educational programs, and individuals with missions that focus on teaching current generations about the importance of engaging antisemitism and other forms of hatred and discrimination.