Speaker Biographies

Steven L. Jacobs

Professor, Department of Religious Studies and Aaron Aronov Chair of Judaic Studies, University of Alabama

Steven L. Jacobs Steven Leonard Jacobs joined the Department of Religious Studies as Associate Professor and Aaron Aronov Chair of Judaic Studies on January 1, 2001 and received tenure as of August 2004. He received his B.A. from Penn State University; and his B.H.L., M.A.H.L., D.H.L., D.D., and rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. A resident of Alabama for more than three decades, he has taught at Spring Hill College, Mobile; University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University, Birmingham; the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Calhoun Community College, Huntsville; as well as serving congregations in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville.

Dr. Jacobs' primary research foci are in Biblical Studies, translation and interpretation, including the Dead Sea Scrolls; as well as Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Faculty Website

Randall Bytwerk

Professor, Communication Arts and Sciences, Calvin College

Randall Bytwerk Randall Bytwerk completed his Ph.D. at Northwestern University. After teaching ten years at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, he returned to his alma mater and hometown, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is a professor and co-chair. He has written three books and two dozen articles on aspects of propaganda, including Julius Streicher and Bending Spines: The Propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic. His website, the German Propaganda Archive, includes a wide range of translations and images of propaganda material, and averages more than a million visitors every year.

Faculty Website
German Propaganda Archive

Lisa Hanasono

Instructor, Asian American Studies and Communication, Department of Communication, Purdue University

Lisa Hanasono Lisa is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication at Purdue University. Her research interests focus on race, culture, and social support. Lisa's dissertation examines how friends and family members can provide support to targets of racial discrimination. She has conducted research on several other topics, such as hate speech and the racialization of Japanese Americans. In addition to her research, Lisa has taught a variety of courses on interpersonal communication, Asian American Studies, presentational speaking, technical communication, and interviewing. Lisa was an active member of the Council on Asian American Studies, a group of dedicated faculty members and students who developed the proposal and curricula for an Asian American Studies program, minor, and courses at Purdue University. She is a part of the Japanese American Citizens League, a national Asian American civil rights organization. Upon graduation, Lisa plans to become a professor and remain active in the local community.

Ivan Hernandez

Director of Admissions, Ivy Tech Community College

Ivan Hernandez Ivan Hernandez is the director of admissions at Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, Ind. He received his B.A. from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., during which he co-founded Hispanos United, the college's first Hispanic-oriented student organization. Along with representatives from other Indiana colleges and universities, Hernandez co-founded the Indiana Latino Higher Education Council. ILHEC advocates on behalf of Latino initiatives and serves as a resource which consolidates and distributes information, data, models, and other materials relevant to their duties to serve Latinos in or on the way to higher education. Hernandez has served as a commissioner for the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino affairs, chaired the City of Lafayette Commission on Hispanic Affairs, and was president of the Latino Coalition of Tippecanoe County. His service awards include the 2006 Community Leader Award from DePauw University, 2008 Community Service Award from United Business' Serving the Community, and 2008 Exceptional Employee Award for Ivy Tech Community College-Lafayette. 

Faculty Website

Rebekah A. Klein-Pejsova

Professor, Jewish Studies and History, Purdue University

Rebekah Klein-Pejsova Rebekah Klein-Pejsova is Jewish Studies Assistant Professor of History at Purdue University. She specializes in Modern Jewish and East Central European social history, with research interests focusing on the problem of loyalty in state/society relations in the region of today's Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czach Republic since the early 20th century. Prof. Klein-Pejsova earnned her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2007, after completing her M.A. degree at the Central European University in Budapest, and her B.A. degree at Bard College. She is currently working on a book manuscript concerning the dynamics of Jewish nationality and citizenship in Interwar East Central Europe. Her article, "Abandon Your Role as Exponents of the Magyars': Contested Jewish Loyalty in Interwar (Czecho) Slovakia," was published in the November 2009 issue of the journal Association of Jewish Studies Review. She is the Associated Scholar of the Slovak Jewish Heritage Center in Bratislava, Slovakia (

Prof. Klein-Pejsova's regularly taught courses include: Jews in the Modern World, The Global History Survey, Holocaust and Genocide, Post-Communist Jewish Identities, and After Empire: the Jewish Experience in Interwar East Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. She is working to develop a travel course on Sites of Jewish Heritage and Community in East Central Europe, and the graduate seminar Beyond Borders: Eurasian Cultures and Societies since 1300. Before coming to Purdue, she taught at the City University of New York, and in the History and Jewish Studies Departments at Rutgers University.

Faculty Website

Anatole Kurdsjuk

Survivor and Author

Anatole Kurdsjuk Anatole was born in Russia on the shores of the Sea of Azov. At the onset of WWII he and his family were forced from their home by the retreating SS and after enduring a 300 km forced march, survived two plus years in a German slave labor camp before being liberated by General George Patton's Third Army. The family immigrated to the United States in April, 1949. After completing his education, he served in the United States Air Force. Upon discharge he worked in the Information Systems Industry with domestic and international corporations as a systems designer, manager and executive. Retiring in 1997, Anatole began writing his family's history as a legacy for his children. Encouraged by those who were touched by the story, he transformed it into a historical memoir and his first book: The Long Walk Home with Miracles Along the Way.

The Long Walk Home

Robert Melson

Survivor, Hanna Community Center

Robert Melson Robert Melson is Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, where he taught political science and was a charter member of the Jewish Studies Program. In 2005-7 he was the Cathy Cohen-Lasry Distinguished Professor in the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University. In 2003-2005, he was the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS).

He did graduate work in Anthropology at Yale University and completed his BS and Ph.D. in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

His major area of teaching and research has been ethnic conflict and genocide. His interest in the topic derives from his family's experience in Europe, as well as from his field work in Nigeria at the onset of the Nigerian-Biafran civil war. The story of his and his family's survival during the Holocaust is told in False Papers, (University of Illinois Press, 2000), which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for 2001. He has authored Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust which won the international PIOOM Award in Human Rights for 1993 awarded by Leiden University.

Professor Melson has been a Foreign Area Fellow of the Ford Foundation (for research in Nigeria 1964-66), a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Illinois (1969-70), Fellow of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture (1983), and a Fellow of the Center for Humanistic Studies at Purdue University (1987,2001).


Dewayne Anthony Moffitt

Executive Director, Hanna Community Center

Dewayne Anthony Moffitt Dewayne Anthony Moffitt is the Executive Director of the Hanna Community Center, which is a non-profit United Way partnership agency that provides programs and services for the Greater Lafayette community. Prior to Hanna, Dewayne worked for a national recognized faith based non-profit that serves at-risk youth called Eckerd Youth Alternative. Dewayne is a native of Lafayette, a 1985 Jefferson High School graduate; he is a Veteran who served in the United States Army , and has a BA in Business Administration Management from American InterContinental University. Dewayne is married to his soul-mate and has two beautiful adventures daughters who are the center of their lives.

Hanna Community Center

Erik C. Nisbet

Professor, School of Communications, Ohio State University

Erik C. Nisbet Erik C. Nisbet obtained a Ph.D. in communication from Cornell University and is an assistant professor of strategic communication in the School of Communication at the Ohio State University. While at Cornell University he was the senior research associate at the Cornell University Survey Research Institute and managed SRI's national and state polling programs. Prior to graduate school at Cornell, Erik worked for seven years in strategic marketing and market research. His research interests center on the dynamics of political psychology, political communication and public opinion, especially on the topics of science and environmental policy, foreign policy, and international conflict. Currently, Erik is working on a project examining how strategic message frames may influence policy preferences about global climate change.

Faculty Website