Celebrating Excellence in Teaching: PRCC Names Helene Goldstein Humanities Instructor of the Year 2024

March 4, 2024

Passion intertwined with heritage and history as Helene Goldstein delivered her presentation “History Repeating: Why the Rise in Anti-Semitism Should Concern Us All.” In recognition of her commitment to excellence in teaching, Pearl River Community College named Goldstein Humanities Instructor of the Year for 2024.

Woman holds certificate while standing next to man.
Helene Goldstein and Dr. Stuart Rockoff

Goldstein received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Rutgers University and a Master of Arts in History from the University of London, focusing on Russian history. She is completing a Master of Arts in Political Science and Comparative Government from American Public University. Before joining the PRCC faculty in 2011, Goldstein taught at several higher education institutions in New Jersey and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Goldstein’s presentation reflected a personal passion for her heritage and history. Before World War I, her grandparents immigrated from a small village in modern-day Ukraine to flee pogroms. When visiting the small community for genealogy research, she and her father saw a small monument to the Jews killed during World War II at the site of a mass grave.

Along with bits of her family’s history and the different exiles of the Jewish people, Goldstein walked through several myths that feed into dangerous ideologies where an entire race is blamed for things out of their control. These included the Blood Libel that originated in Medieval Europe and 19th Century ideas on race like social Darwinism and Eugenics. These conspiracy theories led to the view of Jews as inherently evil and unable to be saved by conversion because their biological nature is corrupted. Similar patterns of relegation to inferior racial categories were observed among other ethnic communities, including Africans, Chinese, and the Irish.

This spring, she is teaching a special interest history course, “The Making of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.” The class explores the history, ideology, and social implications of the rise of Nazi Germany, culminating in the Holocaust.

The Humanities Teaching Award is presented annually to an outstanding humanities faculty member at each higher education institution in Mississippi. The HTA presentation is a requirement of accepting the award. The HTA awardees will be recognized at the 2024 Public Humanities Awards in Jackson on March 22, 2024.

Dr. Stuart Rockoff, Executive Director of the Mississippi Humanities Council, attended the presentation as part of the Humanities Teaching Award (HTA) program. He specializes in American Jewish History, particularly in the South.

“The Humanities Teaching Award program provides the opportunity for educators to present on a topic they are passionate about,” said Rockoff. “It is very important to highlight humanities education on the campuses. The HTA presentations help show that humanities are for everyone.”

The Mississippi Humanities Council is a private nonprofit corporation primarily funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines to serve nonprofit groups in Mississippi. The humanities are the study of history, literature, religion, languages, philosophy, and culture.

They create opportunities for Mississippians to learn about themselves and the larger world and enrich communities through civil conversations about our history and culture.

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit PRCC.edu and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), Facebook (@PRCCMKTG), and TikTok (@prcc_wildcats).

Article by Laura O’Neill. Photography by River Roderick.

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