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Programs Supported by the Joseph Stevens Freedom Endowment, 2015 and earlier


The programs listed below were presented to GVSU students, faculty, and the public through the generous support of the Joseph Stevens Freedom Endowment fund. Some of the events were planned and presented with GVSU and/or community co-sponsors. 

Justice and Healing for Victims of Genocide and Sexual Slavery: The Case of the Yazidis

Ms. Nadia Murad Basee Taha, UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, ISIS Survivor and Human-Rights Activist will speak on the Yazidi Genocide and Sexual Slavery at GVSU's Loosemore Auditorium on November 20, 2017. She is accompanied by Haider Elias, president of Yazda, a Global Yazidi Organization, that talks about efforts to bring justice, sustenance, healing and rejuvenation to the Yazidis who have suffered under or are affected by, the genocidal campaign against their people by the so-called Islamic State (IS) as well as the IS campaign against other vulnerable ethno-religious minorities.

Nadia Murad Basee Taha

Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals: 1933-1945

This timely special exhibit will be on loan to GVSU from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum between December 20, 2014, and February 23, 2015 at the Mary Idema Pew Library and Learning Commons. A series of events, speakers, and special programs will be offered for students, faculty, and the public as well as area colleges and high schools.  Watch this page for announcements. This exhibit is sponsored by a consortium of GVSU disciplines: Political Science, English, the Frederik Meijer Honors College, Ralph Hauenstein Center, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, GVSU's LGBT Resource Center, the Office of Inclusion and Equity, and the LGBT Faculty/Staff Association.  It is co-sponsored in part by the Joseph Stevens Freedom Endowment.

Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals

Frozen Time, Liquid Memories: 1942-2012

Grand Valley is proud to present the screening of: Frozen Time, Liquid Memories: 1942-2012
a film by Dragan Kujundzic

Kujundzic is a Professor of Film and Media Studies, Jewish, Germanic and Slavic Studies, at the University of Florida. He is also a specialist of French Philosopher, Jacques Derrida. This two-part documentary commemorates the seventy years since the two round-ups of the Jews, one in Novi Sad (today Serbia) in January 1942, and the other in Paris in July 1942.

Thursday, February 12, 2015
Loosemore Auditorium, Devos Center
5:00—7:30 p.m.
Film & Discussion

For further information contact: Professor Isabelle Cata at

Click the link below for more information:

Screening of: Frozen Time

Frozen Time Screening

Trafficking In Human Beings: Human Rights Colloquium

Trafficking In Human Beings: Human Rights Colloquium
Honoring James Kofi Annan

Held: Thursday, December 4th, 2014 6 PM

James Kofi Annan, Founder and President of Challenging Heights, Winneba, Ghana
Dr. Richard Hiskes, Political Science Professor, Editor: Journal of Human Rights
Dr. Julie Guvara, Social Work Professor, Human Rights Scholar
Dr. Karen Zivi, Political Science Professor, Human Rights Scholar
Carmen Kucinich, FBI-U.S. Department of Justice, Victims Specialist
SGT. Jacqueline Stasiak, Michigan State Police, Human Trafficking Task Force
Rebecca McDonald, Founder and President, Women at Risk International
Kim Sorrelle, Executive Director , Rays of Hope International, Global Medical Relief
Emily LeBlanc, Michigan Legislative Driver
Sruda Xedagbui, Trafficking Survivor, Ghana, West Africa
Julie Slagter, Michigan Abolitionist Project, Global Trafficking Activist

Click the link below for more information:

Trafficking In Human Beings: Human Rights Colloquium

Human trafficking

Jan T. Gross, Princeton University


Professor of History, Jan T. Gross, is the Norman B. Tomlinson ‘16 and ‘48 Professor of War and Society at Princeton University. He presented the keynote address at the October 2014 Great Lakes History Conference hosted by GVSU: "On the Periphery of the Holocaust: Pillage and Killings of Jews."  The theme of the 2014 Conference was "Why Does it Happen? Complicity and Resistance of Genocide in World History." Gross joined the Princeton History Department in 2003 after teaching at New York University, Emory, Yale, and universities in Paris, Vienna, and Krakow. Professor Gross studies modern Europe, focusing on comparative politics, totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, Soviet and East European politics, and the Holocaust. After growing up in Poland and attending Warsaw University, he immigrated to the United States in 1969 and earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University (1975). 

The author of several books, his most controversial, Neighbors (2001), is widely read and taught in Poland and the United States.  A finalist for the National Book Award, Neighbors reconstructs the events that took place in July 1941 in the small Polish town of Jedwabne, where virtually every one of the town’s 1,600 Jewish residents was killed in a single day. 

Using eyewitness testimony, Professor Gross demonstrates that the Jews of Jedwabne were murdered by their Polish neighbors, not by the German occupiers, as previously assumed. The shocking story occasioned an unprecedented reevaluation of Jewish-Polish relations during World War II and touched off passionate debate. In 2004 many of the Polish voices in this debate were published in translation in a collection, The Neighbors Respond. Professor Gross is the author of several books, the co-editor of The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath (2000), and the co-editor with Irena Grudzinska-Gross of War Through Children’s Eyes (1981), which uses school compositions and other documents written by children to study how children experience war and deportation. 

Interview with Jan Gross and Rob Franciosi

Professor Gross was a guest, with Professor Rob Franciosi, on Shelley Irwin's WGVU Morning Show on October 10.

In March, 2014 Grand Valley State University commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of Sidney Lumet’s ground-breaking drama with a special screening of The Pawnbroker and a lecture by film historian Annette Insdorf of Columbia University.

Based on Edward Lewis Wallant’s 1961 novel, The Pawnbroker (1964) is the story of Sol Nazerman, a concentration camp survivor whose traumatic memories are often triggered by the desperate people who come to his Harlem pawn shop. Starring Rod Steiger in an Academy-Award-nominated performance, The Pawnbroker is the first Hollywood film to examine the Holocaust from a survivor’s perspective.

The author of Indelible ShadowsFilm and the Holocaust, which remains the foundational text in the field, Annette Insdorf has also written books on Francois Truffaut, Polish cinema, and most recently a study of Philip Kaufman. 

Annette Insdorf, Columbia University


Her wide-ranging work includes television appearances, audio commentary on DVDs, jury work at important film festivals, and, since 1983, hosting “Reel Pieces” at Manhattan's 92nd Street Y, a program which has attracted such guests as Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Pedro Almodovar, Woody Allen, and Al Pacino.

WGVU Interview: The Pawnbroker

Professor Rob Franciosi discusses The Pawnbroker and presentations by Annette Insdorf.

Professor Jeffrey Shandler presented two lectures in February 2013: "The December Dilemma: Christmas in American Jewish Popular Culture" and "The Holocaust on American Television." 

Currently president of the Association for Jewish Studies, professor Shandler is the author or editor of numerous books including, most recently, Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory, Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America,  and Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture

The office of the Provost and the Association for Jewish Studies Distinguished Lectureship Program were co-sponsors of Professor Shandler's presentations.

Jeffrey Shandler, Rutgers University


Daniel Mendelsohn


Award-winning writer, critic and translator Daniel Mendelsohn presented “Medea on the Jersey Shore: Tragedy and the Crisis of Reality in Contemporary Culture,” in September 2012 as one of six events during Grand Valley’s popular Fall Arts Celebration

In 2012, Mendelsohn was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as part of a class that included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, actor Clint Eastwood, and founder Jeff Bezos. Mendelsohn, the Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities at Bard College, studied Classics at the University of Virginia and Princeton University, where he completed his doctorate in 1994. Since then his articles, essays, reviews, and translations have appeared frequently in such diverse publications as The New York TimesThe New York Review of BooksEsquire, Travel + Leisure, and The Paris Review.

A recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Excellence in Reviewing (2001) and the George Jean Nathan Prize for Drama Criticism (2002), Mendelsohn has written six books, including an award-winning account of his search for the truth about six relatives who perished in the Holocaust, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million. A collection of essays, How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken, was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2008. Waiting for the Barbarians, a collection of Mendelsohn’s essays on subjects ranging from Susan Sontag and Noël Coward, to TV’s Mad Men and Greek myth in Spider-Man, was published in 2012.

Time of an Execution: Scott Langley

Death house

In February 2012, Grand Valley hosted Amnesty International for a presentation of death row photographer and speaker, Dr. Scott Langley.  Dr. Langley's collection of photos, which were displayed at Grand Valley, lead the viewer through the night of an execution, from the time of visitation to the time the death certificate is issued. Dr. Langley is a sociologist and professional photographer based in New York. See his collection of photos here.

James Kofi Annan is a survivor of child trafficking. He spoke about his life as a child slave in Ghana and his efforts to stop the brutal practice.  Despite severe poverty and abuse, James was able to complete a university education and became a manager at Barclays Bank of Ghana. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Challenging Heights. James, the last and only one out of twelve children of his illiterate parents to be educated, worked as a child fisherman in more than 20 villages along the Volta Lake between the ages of 6 and 13 before he liberated himself.

In April 2007, he resigned from Barclays Bank of Ghana in order to devote full time to mobilizing resources to promote the mission of Challenging Heights. James now holds a masters degree and is the recipient of four international awards: Frederick Douglass Freedom Award, World Education Promoter of the Year, Barclays Bank of Africa Community Award, and Barclays Bank Global Community Award. James has been a keynote speaker at events throughout the world.

James Kofi Annan


Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Professor of Sociology in the graduate program at Duke University, was the keynote speaker during the 2011 Michigan Sociological Association Conference. His topic, "The Invisible Weight of Whiteness: The Racial Grammar of Everyday Life in America" sparked discussion as he also accepted the 2011 Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award for ". . . outstanding scholarship and activity focused on racial issues, especially those affecting 'African American or similarly disadvantaged racial/ethnic populations.' Above all else, Eduardo has urged us to see that no matter how it is papered over, whether with words or deeds, racism continues to exist" (American Sociological Association).

Bonilla-Silva’s research areas include racial stratification, social theory, critical race methods and political sociology. A recent project is titled “We are All Americans! The Latin Americanization of Race Relations in the USA.” It explores the changing dynamics of racial stratification in the U.S. His books include: The State of White Supremacy: Racism, Governance, The USA, White Logic, White Methods: Race, Epistemology, and the Social Sciences, and Racism Without Racists. 

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva


Professor Bonilla-Silva earned his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research areas include racial stratification, social theory, critical race methods, political sociology, and Latin American and the Caribbean, and Epistemology. One of Dr. Bonilla-Silva's current projects is titled "We are All Americans! The Latin Americanization of Race Relations in the USA," and explores the changing dynamics of racial stratification in the United States. (Duke University Website)

Latin American Studies

In 2011 a day-long colloquium was presented for students, faculty, and the public:  "Power, Justice and Public Memory in Central America," featured several archivists and historians including Professor Dario Euraque, former director of the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia y Lic. and Anna Carla Ericastilla, the director of the Archivo General de Centroamérica.

Oscar Torres


Latin American Film Festival

Oscar Torres, screenwriter for Innocent voices (Voces Inocentes), a film about a boy surviving war in El Salvador was the keynote speaker for the 2011 Latin American Studies Film Festival sponsored by Grand Valley as well as other area colleges and community sponsors. Following a showing of Innocent Voices, Mr. Torres responded to questions and discussed his childhood growing up in war-torn El Salvador and the use of children in armed conflict.

Peter Hayes


Professor Peter Hayes, a prominent Holocaust expert, visited Grand Valley State in 2010 to deliver several lectures on the Holocaust. His topic was "The Holocaust: Myths and Misconceptions." Hayes is a professor of history and German, a Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation Professor of Holocaust Studies, a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, and chair of the Department of History at Northwestern University, where he has taught since 1980. Professor Hayes holds degrees from Bowdoin College, the University of Oxford, and Yale University. He is the author or editor of nine books — including the prize-winning titles, Industry and Ideology: IG Farben in the Nazi Era and Lessons and Legacies: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing WorldFrom Cooperation to Complicity: Degussa in the Third Reich, and The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies . See more at: More at GVSU's website.  

In 2009, Marc Falkoff, Associate Professor of Law & Director of Faculty Development at Northern Illinois University and an attorney for Guantanamo Bay detainees, presented "The America We Believe in Does Not Torture" during an Amnesty International event on campus. Professor Falkoff joined the NIU law faculty in 2006.  His primary research and teaching interests are in the rule of law and the practice of public interest law. Since 2004, he has been a principal lawyer in the habeas representation of seventeen prisoners being held by the U.S. military at Guantánamo Bay on suspicion of involvement with terrorism. For this work, he was named the Charles F.C. Ruff Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in 2005 by Covington & Burling, LLP. He received the Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award in 2007 from the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the Bill of Rights in Action Award in 2008 from the Constitutional Rights Foundation in Chicago. 

Marc Falkoff


Ian Shapiro presented "Africa in International Relations" during the GVSU 2009 African and African-American Studies Conference. Professor Shapiro is a native of South Africa and a Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University where he also serves as Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. He has written widely and influentially on democracy, justice, and the methods of social inquiry. A native of South Africa, he received his J.D. from the Yale Law School and his Ph.D. from the Yale Political Science Department where he has taught since 1984 and served as chair from 1999 to 2004. Shapiro is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a past fellow of the Carnegie Corporation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Cape Town, Keio University in Tokyo, and Nuffield College, Oxford. 

Ian Shapiro


His most recent books are: The Real World of Democratic Theory, Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror, The Flight From Reality in the Human Sciences, and Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight Over Taxing Inherited Wealth (with Michael Graetz). His current research concerns the relations between democracy and the distribution of income and wealth. (Yale University Bio.)

Dde Mirabel


Déde Mirabel founded a movement with her three sisters to resist Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo who ultimately killed her sisters.  Ms. Mirabel presented “Memories Alive in the Garden” at a Latin American Studies presentation.

"After the death of her sisters, Doña Dede devoted her life to the legacy of her sisters. She became mother to her sisters' six children and has traveled the world telling her sisters' story. In 1992, she founded the Mirabal Sisters Foundation and subsequently the Mirabal Sisters Museum in 1994, in her native city of Salcedo. The museum is now a major tourist attraction. For many years, she was known as the last surviving Mirabal sister. It was a title that many times sparked the obvious question of how she was able to survive, to which she would often reply, "'so I could tell their story!'"  Ms. Mirabel died of natural causes in 2014 at the age of 88. (From the Huffington Post)

Ido Oren


Ido Oren earned a BA in Middle Eastern and African studies from Tel-Aviv University, an MA in Political Science from New York University, and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Chicago. His intellectual and research interests range from IR theory, international security affairs, and U.S. foreign policy, through the history and politics of American political science, to interpretive methods of political research. Oren’s book, Our Enemies and US: America’s Rivalries and the Making of Political Science was published by Cornell University Press and translated into Chinese and Japanese. His articles have appeared in journals such as Perspectives on Politics, International Security, the European Journal of International Relations, and Comparative Studies in Society and History.

Professor Oren is a former Vice President of the International Studies Association and former President of the Association’s Southern region. In spring 2010 he was a Fulbright lecturer at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. Oren has given invited lectures/presentations in Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Israel, Japan, and at various Chinese universities. (University of Florida).

Lev Raphael

Michigan writer, Lev Raphael, is the author of twenty-four books in nearly a dozen different genres. Raphael is best known as a pioneer in writing fiction and creative non-fiction about the children of Holocaust survivors, which he's been publishing since 1978. His books have been translated into a dozen languages and he's done hundreds of invited talks and readings on three continents. His work has appeared in dozens of anthologies in the U.S. and England. (Huffington Post)  His books include Dancing on Tisha B'Av, Winter Eyes, The German Money, Secret Anniversaries of the Heart, and Writing a Jewish Life.  The former host of Book Talk on Lansing Public Radio and the author of the Nick Hoffman mysteries series, Lev spoke on campus in 2006.  His topic was "Ashes to Hope: Writing the Second Generation."


Susan Gubar

Susan Gubar, Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University, presented "The Long and the Short of Holocaust Poetry" and "A Feminism of One's Own."  The programs were presented in 2004 by the GVSU Honors College, Arts and Humanities Division, the Women's Center, and Women and Gender Studies.

"In November of 2008, three days after she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, Susan Gubar underwent a debulking operation. The procedure entails the removal of part of the cancer—and often several of the organs that are in contact with it—and, as Gubar writes in her new book, “Memoir of a Debulked Woman,” it’s the standard initial response to the disease. “Have you ever heard of a debulked woman? Have you ever seen one?” she writes. “I am one such living, breathing, debulked woman, though no one ever explained to me how such a being comes about, what such a condition means, or how it would feel" (The New Yorker)



Barbara Zelizer

Barbie Zelizer, the Raymond Williams Professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, presented “Trauma Through the Camera’s Eye” at GVSU in 2003.. 

A noted authority on journalism, popular culture, and the media, Zelizer is the author of Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory Through the Camera’s Eye, which won the 2000 Best Book Award from the International Communication Association as well as other national awards. In it Zelizer shows how the powerful photographs of liberated concentration camps not only became the basis for public perception of the Holocaust, but also helped legitimize the camera as a tool of journalism. In Journalism After September 11,  published in 2002, Zelizer co-edited writings by scholars and media commentators examining how the attacks transformed the nature of journalism, and what journalism looks like today.