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Political Science 313: Comparative Genocide

Dr. Tracy Hoffman Slagter displays one of the most positive personalities of any faculty member on campus while teaching one the most depressing topics on the planet: genocide.


Dr. Tracy Slagter 

By Eric Balkman
Student News Reporter

Assistant political science professor Dr. Tracy Hoffmann Slagter can be described as having one of the most positive, bubbly personalities of any faculty or staff member on campus. Of course, it’s only fitting that she teaches a course one of the most depressing, horrible topics on the planet: genocide

Dr. Tracy Slagter

Dr. Tracy Hoffmann Slagter, assistant political science professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. 
(Photo by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies)

Political Science 313: Comparative Genocide is a study of what qualifies as genocide, a mild study of historical genocides but above all an education to students on how to stop and prevent current and future genocides.

“There’s enough hatred to go around in this world that if we ignore these tragedies as they unfold elsewhere, we do so at our own peril,” Slagter says.

One of the most unique parts of the class is the mock trial that students put on at the end of the semester. The class is divided into three groups: One represents the prosecution, one represents the defense and the other one serves as the judges who ultimately rule on the case.

In the Fall 2009 semester, the students put the Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir on trial for genocide and other notorious crimes, and Slagter said her students did a fantastic job of conducting a trial without the aid of calling any witnesses, much less actually speaking to the defendant.

“We held (the class) in Reeve 220 so it was separate from our classroom,” Slagter says. “We borrowed graduation robes from the Chancellor’s office so that their judges could all look uniform. They all looked very professional.”

For more on Comparative Genocide, please click on the podcast below. This audio-only interview is conducted by multimedia student news reporter Eric Balkman.


Setting the Course Podcast Tracy Slagter