About ISG

Our Purpose

The Institute for the Study of Genocide (ISG) is an independent non-profit and registered 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1982 that has worked continuously to promote and disseminate scholarship on the causes, consequences, and prevention of genocide. Originally established to fill a gap in both the scholarly and human rights communities at a time when the prevalence of genocide was not adequately recognized, ISG has contributed to raising the profile of contemporary genocide and other atrocities.

ISG publishes a semi-annual newsletter, working papers, and volumes and initiated a study of life integrity violations cross-nationally. It holds periodic conferences and lectures often co-sponsored with universities and other partners including human rights and refugee organizations. ISG provides consultation to representatives of the media, governmental and non-governmental organizations and advocates for passage of legislation and administrative measures related to genocide and other gross violations of human rights. To advance research and cooperation, it initiated the organization of the International Association of Genocide Scholars in 1995, an autonomous affiliate of the ISG.

Our Leadership

  • Joyce Apsel
    Joyce Apsel is a professor in the Liberal/Global Studies Program of College of Arts & Sciences at New York University. She was a recipient of the 2008-2009 NYU Distinguished Teaching Award. Her training includes a Ph.D. in history and J.D. in law. Research interests are in comparative genocide, human rights and peace studies. Her most recent works are: Genocide Matters: Ongoing Issues and New Perspectives coedited with Ernesto Verdeja (Routledge 2013) and Peace Museums: Transforming Cultures (INMP 2012) co-edited with Clive Barrett. She is a board member of the Peace, War and Conflict section of the American Sociological Association.
  • Alex Hinton
    Vice President
    Alex Hinton is Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, Professor of Anthropology, and UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention at Rutgers University. He is the author of the award-winning Why Did They Kill? Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide (California, 2005) and nine edited or co-edited collections. In recognition of his work on genocide, the American Anthropological Association selected Hinton as the recipient of the 2009 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology. Professor Hinton is also the immediate past President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (2011-13) and was a Member/Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (2011-13).
  • Helen Fein
    Chairwoman of the Board, Former Executive Director
    Helen Fein is Chair of the Board of Directors of ISG. She served as Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Genocide for over three decades. Helen Fein was also the first President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Helen Fein is an historical sociologist and the author or co-author of 11 books and monographs, articles, and two prize winning works on genocide and related topics, including Accounting for Genocide and Human Rights and Wrongs: Slavery and Terror. She is an Associate of the International Security Program of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
  • Ernesto Verdeja
    Executive Director, Lemkin Committee Chair
    Ernesto Verdeja is Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, United States. His interests include the causes of large-scale political violence (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity), transitional justice, forgiveness and reconciliation, trials, truth commissions, official apologies, and reparations. He is the author of Unchopping a Tree: Reconciliation in the Aftermath of Political Violence and coeditor of volumes on peacebuilding and social movements, the field of genocide studies, and the international politics of genocide. His current work is on the causes of genocide and early warning and risk assessment models. He also co-directs a project mapping state security force structures around the world, and serves on the board of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. His website is at everdeja.weebly.com.

Board Members

  • Orlanda Brugnola
    Board Member
    The Rev. Orlanda Brugnola has been a Board member of the ISG since its inception in the early 1980's. Brugnola served as President for 19 years and remains a Board member and a member of the Lemkin Committee. Brugnola's experience is in the field of human rights, religious freedom and the arts.
  • Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum
    Board Member
    Professor Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum, a teacher, scholar and advocate in the fields of human rights and public health, is Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law where she directs the Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic. In the Clinic, students gain legal skills through work on human rights projects and cases on issues related to atrocity prevention. Specifically, the Clinic focuses on three areas of work: the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities; the protection of vulnerable populations, including asylum- seekers and victims of torture and sexual violence; and accountability for those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

    Professor Getgen Kestenbaum has developed and expanded clinical projects, including in-depth fact-finding on issues of sexual and gender-based crimes, persecution as a crime against humanity and early warning risk analysis, on four continents and in more than ten countries. She also serves as Faculty Director of the Cardozo Law Institute on Holocaust and Human Rights, a leading global center strengthening laws, norms and institutions toward the prevention of mass atrocities. She is particularly interested in mainstreaming atrocity prevention in law school curricula and training lawyers and human rights advocates on early warning risk analysis. Her scholarship agenda includes looking at the intersections of public health and atrocity prevention, especially as it relates to preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based crimes. Professor Getgen Kestenbaum holds a JD from Cornell Law School and an MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • Douglas Irvin-Erickson
    Board Member
    Douglas Irvin-Erickson is Assistant Professor at George Mason University School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, in the United States. His interests include the prevention of genocide and other forms of mass violence, international justice, and peace studies. He is the author of Raphaël Lemkin and the Concept of Genocide (University of Pennsylvania, 2017), and author of several chapters and articles on the International Criminal Court, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and the peace processes in Cambodia, Burundi, and Ukraine. He is also coeditor of volumes on genocide studies, and religion and peacebuilding, and an editor of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal. His current book project is titled Dying in the Age of Vacuity: Life, Death, and the Politics of Genocide and Terrorism. He also directs the Genocide Prevention Program at George Mason, and is actively engaged in genocide prevention and conflict resolution projects in many countries around the world. His website is douglasirvinerickson.org.
  • Roger W. Smith
    Board Member
    Roger Smith is professor emeritus of government at the College of William and Mary. He is a co-founder and past president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. His publications on genocide focus on: denial, the Armenian Genocide, gender, scarcity, misinterpretations of the Holocaust, and the nature and history of genocide. For over a decade he directed the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies' Genocide and Human Rights University Program, an intensive seminar taught annually at the University of Toronto. In 2008 he received the Movses Khorenatsi Medal, Armenia's highest civilian award, for his contributions to international recognition of the 1915 Genocide.
  • Linda M. Woolf
    Board Member
    Linda M. Woolf is a Professor of Psychology and International Human Rights at Webster University where she teaches a variety of courses related to the Holocaust, genocide, human rights, terrorism, torture, ethics, and peace psychology. Recent articles, book chapters, and presentations focus on hate groups, torture, LGBT and women’s rights, psychosocial roots of genocide and terrorism, and diversity issues (e.g., Psychosocial Roots of Genocide: Risk, Prevention, and Intervention; Psychologists, Coercive Interrogations, and Torture; LGBTI rights and social justice). Linda Woolf was co-drafter of the 2006 American Psychological Association (APA) Resolution Against Torture and the 2013 Policy Related to Psychologists' Work in National Security Settings and Reaffirmation of the APA Position Against Torture. Linda Woolf is Past-President of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence (Peace Psychology—Division 48 of the APA). Her website is at http://www2.webster.edu/~woolflm/.