Psychology of Genocide - BRAND NEW UNIT this Summer 2021 - Genocide & Human Rights University Program

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Psychology of Genocide - This unit will provide an introduction to, and analysis of the psychological causes of large-scale conflict with a particular focus on the role of social identity theory. In our century, the questions that fill people with emotion are “Who are we?” and, more ominously, “Who are we not?” Social identity theory helps us understand the strength of group memberships and the ways in which social identity matters as a source of intergroup conflict. The violence of large-scale conflict is multi-directional and one of those directions can be genocidal. Genocidal conflict, in particular, is most often identity-based. This unit also explores the psychology of perpetrator behavior by unpacking the process by which ordinary people become capable of committing genocide and atrocity crimes. Central to that exploration are the implications of the research for genocide and atrocity crimes prevention.


The Genocide and Human Rights University Program (GHRUP) is an intensive, graduate-level program that explores the fundamental issues relating to gross violations of human rights and the prevention of genocide. An examination of several major cases of genocide provides the foundation for comparative analysis, along with the exploration of selected broad conceptual themes.

Due to the importance of the safety of our staff, students, and faculty members, and the international travel restrictions in place, the Genocide and Human Rights University Program (GHRUP) will not be hosted in-person at the University of Toronto in 2021. We are pleased to announce, however, that the Zoryan Institute will be hosting the program online from August 2-13, 2021, with class held from Monday to Friday from 9:30 am-4:00 pm EST with an hour break for lunch, and will continue to be conducted by our Course Director, Prof. Joyce Apsel.

Learn more about the 2021 faculty and how to apply (by May 31!) by visiting