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On the prevention of genocide: The gap between research and education

Author(s): David H. Jones

Journal: War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity
ISSN 1551-322X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2005;
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Keywords: Genocide | Genocide prevention | Genocide education

When recommending ways to prevent genocide, most historians, social scientists, and other scholars engaged in empirical research tend to identify structural factors such as new or improved international institutions, early warning systems, rapid response teams, and peace keeping forces, or they emphasize the need to develop liberal democratic institutions and culture wherever possible. In sharp contrast, most genocide educators ignore the topic of prevention entirely. Moreover, the few genocide courses that address prevention take a highly individualistic and apolitical approach which can be called the Moral Exemplars Perspective (MEP). According to proponents of MEP, the best way to prevent genocide is to find ways to make individual people more altruistic and responsible, for example, through socialization, moral training, and education. MEP is shown to be highly implausible because it rests on faulty historical analysis, it ignores relevant evidence from political science and psychology, and its apolitical conception of good moral character is ethically questionable.
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