Witnessing Auschwitz

CENS 303D | 3 Credits

About the program

This course is led by Bozena Karwowska, The Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies

There will be an option for students to participate in this course virtually from Vancouver.  Please stand by for more information from Go Global later this term or email Dr. Karwowska directly for more information.

Dates: Full Course:  May 16-June 22, 2022 : Poland - May 16-31, 2022

Topic:  Using a multi-disciplinary approach this course will give you the chance to take part in lectures, seminars and workshops in Poland, where you will have direct access to historical archives, museums, and leading experts in all relevant disciplines related to the Holocaust studies.

Locations visited: Krakow and Oświęcim, Poland

Funding: This is an Arts Research Abroad (ARA) funded program. The ARA program aims to ensure that upper-level international research courses are accessible to academically qualified students, and that scholarly preparation and aspiration rather than financial means are the deciding factors for student participation. Funded by a generous gift from donors, the Faculty of Arts, and Go Global, the ARA program sponsors advanced research-intensive courses involving international travel.  70% of the program cost will be offset for academically qualified students; and up to 100% of the cost may be offset for academically qualified students who demonstrate financial need (as determined by Enrolment Services). 

Students can only be considered for one major International Learning Award throughout their degree e.g. ARA (Arts Research Abroad) funded Global Seminars, Undergraduate Research Conference. 

About the course

Studying Auschwitz as a site of conflicted memories raises questions of how, if at all, the Holocaust can be remembered and commemorated in ways that resist both sentimentalization and recourse to conventional literary or cinematographic imagery. As a memorial site, with archives and a research center, Auschwitz offers an unparalleled opportunity to study the Holocaust in ways that, in turn, hone academic skills and knowledge that can be applied to other genocides and local stories of violence. 

In this multi-disciplinary inquiry, you will take up social responsibilities as researchers, drawing connections to territory, both at Auschwitz and here at UBC. You will be asked to contextualize studying Auschwitz as a site of memory, history and testimony alongside histories of other genocides including colonial genocide in Canada. 

Experience in the field 

4 meetings at UBC prior to the departure may include: 

Seminar Meetings One and Two:

  • Introduction 
  • Topic: The Theoretical, Historical and Cultural Backgrounds  
  • Introduction to History of Jews in Poland 
  • Yiddish Warsaw and the birth of Yiddish Literature 

Seminar Meetings Three and Four:

  • Road to Auschwitz: History, Economy, Archives. 
  • Auschwitz Museum Lectures and Workshops 
  • KL Auschwitz and the Nazi Program of the Mass Murder of European Jews  
  •  Role of Auschwitz in the Third Reich Economy 
  • The Archives and their contents  

On site in Poland will include: 

Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum: 

  • On site lecture and guided study tour of the former Auschwitz I Stammlager. The visit includes block 10, commandant’s garden and a watchtower; 
  • On site lecture and guided study visit of the former concentration and death camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The visit includes Judenrampe, Sauna, Canada, remnants of crematoria and gas chambers, mass graves of Soviet POW’s; 
  • Lectures and study tours – medical experiments, industrial area of Auschwitz camp and its sub-camps, city of Oświęcim, genocide of Sinti and Roma,  
  • Lecture and workshops in the Publication Department, Art Collections, Archives, Preservation, Exhibitions 
  • Lectures and meetings with faculty of the Research Center.  


  • On site lecture in the site of the former KZ Plaszow (commemoration outside of official memorial sites) 
  • Jewish Heritage in Poland 
  • Intergenerational trauma 

Concluding meetings at UBC at the end of the term (in person or online) 

  • 4 seminar meetings to discuss topics related to students individual projects 
  • Study visits and discussions in MOA, Vancouver Holocaust Education Center, Steveston Historical Society Museum 

A typical day may include

  • Two on site lectures (3 hours)
  • Seminar discussions or study tours (1.5 hours)
  • Independent reserach and site visits (2 hours) 

Notable environmental conditions

Participating in this course will be an intensive, enriching, and demanding experience. A spirit of collaboration and peer support will be important for all potential students.  


Shared rooms. You will stay in a three-star hotel close to the Museum and in a Bed and Breakfast Villa in the city of Oświęcim. Dorm rooms in Krakow. 

Eligibility requirements

  • Be enrolled in UBC Vancouver’s Faculty of Arts. 
  • Be in their third, fourth, or final year of study. 
  • You must have at least a 70% average in your most recent Winter Session of full-time studies prior to application 
  • You need to be a UBC student in good standing (e.g., not be under academic or non-academic discipline) to participate in a Global Seminar 
  • You should have full-time student status (as defined by your faculty) in the year prior to your Global Seminar 
  • You must maintain 70% average prior to your Global Seminar departure 
  • You must have completed or intend to complete the necessary (or equivalent) pre-requisite courses prior to Global Seminar start date 
  • You will need to be accepted by the Program Director leading the Global Seminar 

Program-specific requirements

The course has no specific prerequisites, and is open to students from all faculties. However, priority will be given to students in the Faculty of Arts

How to apply

Application deadline 

January 27, 2022

  • Log in to the Gateway online application program 
  • Select “Search Experiences” and type "GSP" to explore Global Seminars programs 
  • Upload the application form for your selected Global Seminar – see Application documents below 

*Please note that you can apply for up to a maximum of 2 Global Seminars*

Program fees and costs

ARA funding will offset 70%-100% of the CAD $2,100-$2,400 in program fees and flight costs. 

Students are responsible for covering the cost of 3 credits of UBC tuition.

The final fee depends on the number of students in the program. Students do not pay the Go Global fee when applying to a Global Seminar. The Go Global fee ($415) is built into the Program Fee and is payable upon acceptance to the program. 

Global Seminars refund policy

To withdraw from your program, you must contact Go Global by email to request a withdrawal.  You will not be charged until you officially accept your spot in the program.  Refunds cannot be issued after the program fee is charged to your SSC account. 

In the case of withdrawal, Go Global Award funding must be returned in full.

If you have questions, please connect with your Go Global advisor or email Go Global at go.global@ubc.ca.


If you are considering applying for a Go Global program and identify with having a disability or pre-existing health condition (mental or physical) which could impact your participation, or if you require academic accommodations, you can contact the following offices and meet with an Accessibility Advisor before the start of the program:

Pre-departure policy

Safety abroad

UBC is committed to preparing students for safe and successful international experiences. In order to achieve this, any student participating in a Go Global Program must complete the following:

Failure to successfully complete these and any other requirements may result in withdrawal from the Go Global Program.


You can contact Go Global by email, phone, in-person or virtually through Zoom.

Booking a virtual advising appointment

If you need to book an advising appointment, please complete the online request form. Appointments will be held through Zoom or by phone, and can be scheduled between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm PT from Monday to Friday. 

If you require an appointment outside of these hours, contact Go Global and they will do their best to accommodate. Appointments outside of regular hours can only be accommodated virtually.

In-person drop-in advising hours

Starting Tuesday, Sep 7, Go Global will offer in-person drop-in advising at the UBC Life Building during the times below:

  • Tuesday: 1:00 - 3:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 1:00 - 3:00 pm

Go Global 101: Virtual group advising sessions on Fridays

Sign up to attend a Friday group advising session online and learn more about the programs, talk to an advisor, or meet other students interested in Go Global programs.