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< Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar

2022 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar

Bioethics, Disease, and the Holocaust

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Jewish nurses and nursing students gather around a cart outside a coffee house on the designated Judenstrasse during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, ca. 1940-1942

Jewish nurses and nursing students gather around a cart outside a coffee house on the designated Judenstrasse during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, ca. 1940-1942 —United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Clara Renee Keren Vromen

Seminar Dates: January 3-7, 2022

The 2022 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar probes the history of bioethics, pathology, disease, and the Holocaust. Recognizing the thriving interdisciplinary nature of the fields of the history of medicine, public health, and the ethics of medicine, this Seminar examines how the Nazis contorted scientific knowledge to serve their racist ‘public health’ and eugenics agenda and, more specifically, how they devised racialized discourses surrounding pathology and disease. The Seminar addresses questions such as: What were the conditions in the camps and ghettos? What diseases spread in the camps and ghettos and why? How did Jewish doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel continue to fulfill their public health missions? Which patients were particularly vulnerable and why?

The Seminar draws on an interdisciplinary body of scholarship to make clear how the history of the Holocaust informs the fields of bioethics and public health, and vice-versa, addressing questions such as: What are the legacies of the Nazis’ uses and abuses of scientific knowledge to serve ideological purposes? How can we understand the continued significance of the Nuremberg Trials and the Nuremberg Code? And what ethical lessons does the Holocaust provide when it comes to practicing medicine and considering public health concerns today, including treating vulnerable patient populations and ensuring access to treatment and vaccines? The Seminar will provide faculty with a range of interdisciplinary methods, approaches, and pedagogical tools for introducing this aspect of Holocaust studies into the undergraduate and graduate classroom. 

The 2022 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar is designed to help faculty, instructors, and advanced PhD candidates who are currently teaching or preparing to teach courses that focus on or have a curricular component relating to the Holocaust, Public Health, Bioethics, or the History of Science. Applications are welcome from instructors across academic disciplines including but not limited to: Anthropology and Sociology; Philosophy and Ethics; Disability Studies; Gender Studies, Women’s Studies; German Studies; History of Medicine; Holocaust Studies; Jewish Studies; Law and Human Rights; Medical Humanities; Medicine; Political Science and International Relations; Public Health; Psychology; and Theology and Religious Studies. Over the course of the Seminar, participants will be introduced to sources in the Museum’s collections, including oral history, testimony, recorded sound, and photography collections. Participants will also develop  familiarity with Experiencing History: Holocaust Sources in Context and other digital teaching tools.

Seminar Facilitators

Dr. Patricia Heberer Rice, PhD

Senior Historian, Director of the Division of the Senior Historians, The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

An historian with the Museum since 1994, Dr. Heberer Rice serves as the Museum specialist on eugenic policies in the Nazi era and the persecution of persons with disabilities during the Holocaust. She earned her BA in history and German literature and her MA in history from Southern Illinois University, and pursued doctoral studies in European history at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Maryland. She  received her Ph.D. from the latter institution.  In addition to contributions to several USHMM publications, she is the author of Children during the Holocaust, a volume in the Center’s series, Documenting Life and Destruction (Altamira Press, 2011), and the editor of Atrocities on Trial: The Politics of Prosecuting War Crimes in Historical Perspective (Nebraska UP, 2008, co-edited with Juergen Matthäus).  She is currently the co-editor of Volume V of the USHMM’s Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos: Nazi Sites for Racial Persecution, Detention, Murder, and Resettlement of Non-Jews (Indiana UP, with co-editor Jan Lambertz, in progress). She is a member of the consortium, ”Brain Research at the Institutes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in the Context of National Socialist Illegitimate Activities: Brain Specimens at the Institutes of the Max Planck Society and the Identification of the Victims.” She was the president of the American Friends of the Documentation Center of the Austrian Resistance from 2012-2014 and a member of the Program Committee for the American Historical Association Annual Meeting in 2013.

Professor Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH, FACP

Director, Center for Bioethics and the Humanities, University of Colorado; Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine and Colorado School of Public Health

Dr. Matthew Wynia is Board certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, with additional training in public health and health services research. He has worked nationally and internationally on issues related to professionalism and the social roles of physicians, including the roles of health professionals in the Holocaust and the contemporary implications of this legacy. He currently leads the University of Colorado’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities, where the Holocaust, Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics program spans all health sciences training programs on all four campuses. In his work with organizations including the American Medical Association, the National Academies of Sciences, the American Board of Medical Specialties, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dr. Wynia has led national projects on medicine and the Holocaust, defining “professionalism”, public health and disaster ethics, ideologically motivated violence, and more. He has served on numerous committees and panels, including service on the Blue Ribbon panel that examined changes to the ethics policies and structures of the American Psychological Association following that group’s involvement in the Bush Administration’s coercive interrogation (torture) program. Dr. Wynia has delivered more than two-dozen named lectures and visiting professorships and is the author of more than 170 published articles. Among other leadership roles, he has served as president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH), chair of the Ethics Forum of the American Public Health Association (APHA), and chair of the Ethics Committee of the Society for General Internal Medicine (SGIM).

Guest Lecturers

Professor Evelynn Hammonds, PhD

Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Dr. Sari Siegel, PhD

Founding Director of the Center for Medicine, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (MHGS), Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Seminar Format

This Seminar will occur entirely online through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions over the course of one week. Participants can expect to attend no more than four hours of synchronous sessions in the virtual classroom per day. All required synchronous sessions will take place from Monday, January 3, 2022, to Friday, January 7, 2022, between 11 AM and 4 PM EST.

Additional daily asynchronous activities will include independent readings, pre-recorded lectures, and independent syllabus design work. All assigned readings and course materials will be made available to participants in advance of the program through the Seminar’s digital platform.

Application Details

Seminar applicants can be at any career stage but must be teaching or anticipate teaching relevant courses at accredited institutions in North America, including colleges, universities, and community colleges. Applications must include: (1) curriculum vitae; (2) a 1-2 page statement of the candidate’s interest in strengthening their background in Holocaust Studies, Bioethics, Public Health, and/or the History of Science for the purpose of teaching; (3) a letter of support from a dissertation advisor, departmental chair, or dean addressing the candidate’s qualifications and the institution’s commitment to Holocaust-related education; and (4) a draft syllabus with content relating to the seminar topic that the candidate has taught or anticipates teaching.

This seminar aims to convene scholars from various career levels, disciplines, regional locations, academic institutions, and backgrounds. In your statement of interest, please specifically address:

  • How the seminar will augment or impact the course(s) you anticipate teaching;
  • How the seminar would help to meet your institution's needs and/or expand your institution’s curricular offerings;
  • How your own perspective, experiences, and/or disciplinary approach will enhance the seminar discussions.

Participants must commit to attending the entire Seminar. After the conclusion of the Seminar, participants are expected to submit a preliminary version of a revised syllabus. The Seminar will include designated working sessions for participants to revise and expand their syllabi content. Participants who complete all components of the Seminar will be provided with a $500 honorarium.

Applications must be received in electronic form no later than October 31, 2021. The application form is available online. Letters of support may be uploaded electronically or sent directly to Dr. Katharine White at kwhite@ushmm.org.

Apply Now

Admission will be determined without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender (sexual orientation or gender identity), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or reprisal. The Museum also prohibits any form of workplace discrimination or harassment.

This Seminar is endowed by Edward and David Hess in memory of their parents, Jack and Anita Hess, who believed passionately in the power of education to overcome racial and religious prejudice.