The Center for Jewish Civilization reintroduced its Student Spotlight Series to showcase the diversity and wide-ranging accomplishments of its students. This month’s spotlight is Liam Scott, a rising sophomore from Connecticut in the School of Foreign Service. This year, Scott plans on declaring his major in International Politics. His engagement with the Center has been guided by his longtime academic and research interests in both genocide and Holocaust studies. At the CJC, Scott serves as a research assistant for Father Desbois and Professor Andrej Umansky, each of whom engage in groundbreaking forensic research on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. Read our interview with him below to learn about his research interests and experience on the Hilltop.
Q: Could you tell me about how you joined the CJC?
A: I went to a CJC event early in the fall semester and found it really interesting. I got an email from the CJC after the event that encouraged student attendees to get involved with the Center, so I reached out to Brittany Fried to inquire about any opportunities related to Holocaust and genocide studies research, which is a topic that I have been passionate about for a couple years now. Brittany helped put me in touch with Dr. Umansky and Father Desbois, and I have been a research assistant ever since! I was looking for a place where I could pursue my passion for genocide studies, and I found that with the CJC.
Q: What was your first CJC class?
A: I will be taking Holocaust by Bullets as my first CJC class this fall.
Q: When did you develop your research and academic interests in genocide and hate studies?
A: My interest in genocide studies began in high school. I went on a school trip to Cambodia the summer after my junior year. While there, we learned about the Cambodian genocide, and I was struck by how little I knew about not only the Cambodian genocide, but also genocide more broadly. So during my senior year, I engaged in an Independent Study with a teacher, through which we designed the course Genocide: Media, Remembrance, and the International Community. The course is now taught at my high school. I also engaged in an interview project with genocide survivors and descendants of genocide survivors toward the end of my senior year. These experiences were indelibly transformative and impactful. They were formative in sparking my interest in human rights and genocide studies.
Q: You have been so helpful to the Center this summer. Can you tell us a little about what you have been working on for the CJC the past few months?
A: I have been helping Dr. Umansky acquire primary sources regarding the Holocaust from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to continue this work throughout the summer, and I’m happy that I am able to contribute, even in a small way, to research on a topic that I am passionate about.
Q: What new insights have you gained through your research?
A: My research for CJC faculty has led to new ways of thinking about the Holocaust that I otherwise may never have been exposed to. My experience as a research assistant has only further cemented my belief in the urgency of Holocaust research. The Holocaust is, after all, what led Raphael Lemkin to coin the term “genocide” and work to mark it as an international crime under the Genocide Convention. It is to this end that I believe we cannot fully understand genocide at large without studying the Holocaust and its implications for international human rights law.
Q: If you have been engaging in any other research or professional activities this summer, what have they been?
A: I have also been doing remote internships with Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, The Uyghur Human Rights Project, and the Embassy of Timor-Leste in Washington, D.C.
Q: Have you had a very memorable CJC experience thus far? How has the CJC informed your time at Georgetown?
A: Many moments come to mind, but perhaps more broadly I think of the many events that the CJC holds—both formal events with academics and practitioners and informal social events. The educational events are always interesting and thought-provoking, and the CJC community is always very friendly and welcoming. I think that being passionate about Holocaust and genocide studies is not overwhelmingly popular, so I have appreciated meeting people with similar interests through the CJC. I was looking for a place where I could pursue genocide studies, which I found, but I also found a network of friendly, caring, and helpful individuals.
Q: What are some of your professional goals for the future? What do you look forward to during your next few years on the Hilltop?
A: During my career, I hope to engage in a mixture of journalism, international human rights law, and diplomacy. Presently, I’m most looking forward to just returning to campus—hopefully it is safe to do so sometime soon. I am also looking forward to engaging in more research related to the Holocaust with the CJC and growing as both a student and person.
Q: What are some other clubs you’re involved in and activities you engage in at Georgetown?
A: I am an Editorial Assistant for the Society and Culture section of The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, I write for the Features section of The Hoya, and I am on the club equestrian team.