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Education Department Adds New Education and Outreach Specialist for IWitness Armenia

Sara CohanUSC Shoah Foundation is expanding its efforts to develop educational resources about the Armenian Genocide with the creation of a new position devoted to the IWitness Armenia program.

Sara Cohan was recently hired as Education and Outreach Specialist for IWitness Armenia – Armenian Education Program to work with the Institute’s education team to design and deliver training programs to K-12 and university educators based on the Institute’s archive of testimonies, focusing specifically on extending the use of the testimonies from the Armenian genocide. The program is supported by the Dadourian Foundation, whose mission advances awareness of the Armenian cultural identity. 

Cohan’s background combines research, study, curriculum development and teaching. She was a high school teacher for seven years, has written articles and designed education materials for ABC CLIO publishing, POV Documentaries, GLSEN, ACLU of Northern California amongst other education and human rights oriented associations. She served as the Education Director of The Genocide Education Project for 11 years.

At USC Shoah Foundation, Cohan will develop outreach and education strategy with the education department, develop content for IWitness, organize and manage training programs and present at training programs and conferences.

The Visual History Archive has 245 testimonies of Armenian Genocide survivors, witnesses, descendants and scholars that were filmed by the documentarian J. Michael Hagopian and collected by the Armenian Film Foundation. Twelve full-length testimonies and an Information Quest Activity on the Armenian Genocide are available for students and educators to view in IWitness.

In just her first few weeks on the job, Cohan has already presented IWitness at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Arizona, as part of their annual Genocide Awareness Week and helped lead a webinar for educators on teaching the Armenian Genocide using the resources of Facing History and Ourselves and IWitness.

Cohan's family after the Armenian GenocideCohan holds a deep personal connection to the Armenian Genocide, and to the power of testimony. She recorded her own grandfather’s testimony about his experiences as a child survivor of the genocide in the final years of his life, and has worked throughout her career to increase education and awareness about the Armenian Genocide.

“This is a dream job for me, because my specialty is Armenian genocide education work,” Cohan said. “To be able to work with this collection is tremendous.”

Over the next several years, Cohan hopes to develop more testimony-based materials for teachers, on the Armenian Genocide on its own and also in a more comparative fashion, making connections between Armenia and the Institute’s Holocaust, Rwandan Genocide and Guatemalan Genocide collections.

“I want to educate the Armenian community and communities at large about the great work USC Shoah Foundation is doing regarding institutionalizing J. Michael Hagopian’s collection, preserving memory through the Visual History Archive and providing educational resources and outreach to teachers,” Cohan said.

Below, read Cohan's essay about her grandfather published in Evoking Genocide: Scholars and Activists Describe the Works That Shaped Their Lives.

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