The Twelfth Annual Dale E. Benson Lecture in Business and Economic History

Please join the PLU community on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 in the Anderson University Center, Scandinavian Cultural Center (AUC 100), at 7:30 p.m. to hear this year’s Benson lecturer Stephen Mihm, Associate Professor of History from the University of Georgia.  This year’s lecture is entitled “The Futures Business: Standards, Grades, and the Making of the Modern World.”

Professor Mihm discusses how systems of standards, largely invisible to the public, have imposed an astonishing measure of uniformity on the raw materials (a barrel of oil, a bushel of wheat, or a bale of cotton) that move through the global marketplace.  The lecture is free and open to the public. The community will also be welcomed by Associate Professor Michael Halvorson, the incoming Benson Family Chair in Business and Economic History.

This lecture is free and open to the public.

Ninth Annual Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education

Women and the Holocaust

Why study women and their experiences in the Holocaust? It was not until the 1980s that historians such as Joan Ringelheim and other academics began to ask the question “Where are the women?” in the story of the Holocaust. This conference is not an attempt to create a competition of suffering between males and females. It is merely an acknowledgement that women’s experiences, because of their gender and socialization, were simply different from men’s.

In the words of historian Myrna Goldenberg, both sexes experienced “different horrors, but the same hell.” Our conference scholars will present their latest research on women in the Holocaust — not as just victims, but as survivors, rescuers, collaborators and even as perpetrators. John Stuart Mill once wrote that the way a society treats women tells us a great deal about how civilized that society is. By exploring the position of women in the Holocaust, we are revealing what half of the world’s population experienced, thereby enhancing our understanding of the chaos and destruction that was the Holocaust.

The Ninth Annual Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education “Women and the Holocaust” will take place Oct. 17-19. We look forward to seeing you all this fall.

The conference is free and open to the public. To register go to:

The Forty-third Walter C. Schnackenberg Memorial Lecture

The Forty-third Walter C. Schnackenberg Lecture will be Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 7:00pm in Xavier Hall, Room 201.

The Department of History has invited Charlotte Gordon, Associate Professor in the School of Arts & Sciences at Endicott College, MA, to be this year’s honored speaker.

Professor Gordon’s lecture is entitled “In Her Mother’s Footsteps: The Lives of Mary Shelley and her mother Mary Wollstonecraft.”  Professor Gordon’s lecture will be accessible to wide ranging audiences, including undergraduates and the general public. The lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer period and a reception of light food and drinks.  The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

Charlotte Gordon is an award-winning author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, SlateHarvard Magazine, and The Cambridge Companion to American Poetry, among other publications. Her latest book, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley (Random House) won the National Book Critics Circle award. She has also published Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Story of America’s First Poet (Little, Brown) and The Woman Who Named God: Abraham’s Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths (Little, Brown). An Associate Professor in the School of Arts & Sciences at Endicott College, she has been a frequent guest on NPR and the CBC. Professor Gordon received her A.B. from Harvard College and her Ph.D. from Boston University.  From 1999-2002 she was Elie Wiesel’s teaching assistant at Boston University. For further information on Gordon’s books, see

We hope that you will be able to attend this year.  Please contact Ms. Brenda Murray at or (253) 535-7595 if you have questions concerning this event.

The Annual Raphael Lemkin Lecture and Essay Awards

Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 7 p.m. in the Scandinavian Cultural Center at PLU

The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.  Please contact Ms. Brenda Murray at or (253) 535-7595 if you have questions concerning this event.

This year Robert P. Ericksen, Kurt Mayer Chair in Holocaust Studies Emeritus, will be the featured speaker. His talk is titled “On Luther, Jews, and Lutherans in Nazi Germany.”

Along with the lecture, each year, PLU offers students a chance to participate in a Lemkin essay contest. Students are asked to write a 7-10 page essay on the topic “Genocide: What does it mean to you?” A panel of faculty members judge the essays. Monetary awards are given to first and second place winners.  All students who participate in the contest are invited to attend.

2017 Lemkin Lecturer Robert P. Ericksen

Robert P. Ericksen, Kurt Mayer Chair in Holocaust Studies Emeritus, joined the PLU History Department in 1999 as successor to Christopher Browning. In 2007 he helped found the endowed Holocaust Studies Program at PLU, including the Kurt Mayer Chair and the Powell and Heller Annual Holocaust Conference. He also helped establish the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program in 2013, which now offers a minor.

Ericksen, a graduate of PLU, completed his Ph.D. in history at the London School of Economics. His first book, Theologians under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch (Yale University Press, 1985), appeared also in German, Dutch and Japanese translation. In 2005 it was the basis for a documentary film, also called Theologians under Hitler, produced by Stephen Martin at Other publications include Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany (Cambridge, 2013); five edited books, including one co-edited with Susannah Heschel, Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (Fortress Press, 1999); plus 50 articles and/or book chapters. He expects his next book, Christians in Nazi Germany, to appear with Cambridge University Press in 2018.

Ericksen is Chair of the Committee on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. He serves on the Board of Editors of a German journal, Kirchliche  Zeitgeschichte, and of an online journal, Contemporary Church History Quarterly. He is a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. He has lectured extensively in ten countries on three continents, including the biennial Kaplan Holocaust Lectures at the University of Cape Town, the annual Raul Hilberg Memorial Lecture at the University of Vermont, and the annual Meyerhoff Lecture at the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum.

About Raphael Lemkin

This lecture is named in honor of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-born Jew who escaped from Nazi-controlled Poland during the war. After many perilous adventures across Europe at war, Lemkin made it to the United States. He obtained a position teaching international law at Duke University. While at Duke he was asked to serve on the U.S. Board of Economic Warfare and later he became a special advisor on foreign affairs at the War Department.

Lemkin was a tireless fighter for human rights. He studied what the Nazis were doing and compiled material into a book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. It this book on occupation, Lemkin created a new word to describe what he termed “the crime with no name.” The word he made was genocide. “Genocide” is derived from the Greek word :”genos” (race, clan) and the Latin suffix “cide” (killing). He defined genocide as a state sponsored, coordinated attempt to annihilate a national group of people.

Lemkin was so dedicated to preventing further genocides that he –at his own expense- spent all of his days at the United Nations Organization. There, he tried his best to convince UN Delegates to support his draft of the Genocide Convention. When the General Assembly at the U.N. approved the Convention on 9 December 1948, reporters went searching for Lemkin to get his reaction. Legend has it that the reporters located Lemkin, in a darkened assembly hall, weeping in solitude.

Lemkin’s dedication to preventing future genocides made him a tireless fighter for human rights. Before his death in 1959 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (twice). He won numerous awards but he died largely penniless and alone.