New Name for Gonzaga Institute: Center for the Study of Hate

Dr. Kristine Hoover, Director, Gonzaga University Center for the Study of Hate.

March 15, 2022
Gonzaga University News Service

SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University formalized the interdisciplinary field of hate studies in 1997 and now marks its 25th year with a new name: the Gonzaga Center for the Study of Hate.

The name change reflects a new university reporting structure that brings together faculty-led interdisciplinary initiatives, centralizes research support and enables more efficient use of resources.

Formerly the Gonzaga Institute of Hate Studies, the new moniker for the center doesn’t change its mission.

“We will continue to emphasize the commitment of faculty, staff and students to supporting research and education focused on the human capacity to dehumanize an ‘other’ and the processes that can counter that capacity,” said Kristine Hoover, professor of organizational leadership who has led the work since her appointment as director in 2016.

Paul Bracke, the associate provost at GU who directs the new Institute for Research and Interdisciplinary Initiatives that now oversees four campus “Centers,” explained how the new structure might benefit the Center for the Study of Hate.

“The new Institute will strengthen support for research and scholarly endeavors at Gonzaga,” Bracke said. “It will enhance and amplify the work of the centers it works with, including the Center for the Study of Hate.”

In a wide-ranging overview of the center’s work as it enters a new quarter-century, Hoover talked about the new name, national and global support for the enterprise, and current priorities.

“Consistent with the university’s commitment to ‘Courageous Conversations,’ ‘Productive Discomfort’ and many other diversity initiatives across campus, the advisory and editorial boards expressed a sense of obligation to not back away or back down from the discomfort that studying hate may create,” Hoover said.

Being explicit is important, Hoover said.

“Doing the work to expand our awareness of oppression and marginalization is the first step in moving toward safer and more inclusive communities that we all want,” she said. “The center focuses on the antecedents of hate so we can better address root causes and encourage effective strategies to counter it.

“We cannot change what we cannot name,” she said, citing Pope Francis: "We cannot turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life."

Hoover has heard from a range of colleagues about the future.

"For the first two decades, Gonzaga has been the international leader in growing the field, primarily through its conference and journal,” wrote Ken Stern, director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, established in 2018 at Bard College in New York state. “Gonzaga is the cornerstone of the effort now joined by Bard and an expanding list of hate studies centers."

Jake Newsome, director of civic learning at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, declared “how excited we are to be working with you (Center for the Study of Hate) as we begin to imagine what a more sustained and intentional partnership between our organizations could look like and achieve.

“Moreover, your mission aligns with that of (our) museum, which is to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and to inspire citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity."

Looking ahead, Hoover pointed to planning with key stakeholders to secure an endowment and continuing to develop coursework on justice issues that connect with the local community. Additionally, the upcoming “Americans and the Holocaust: A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries” exhibition, made possible by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association, will be an opportunity for the center to develop programming in partnership with GU’s Foley Library. The exhibit will be opening at the library on Aug. 26.

Hoover published “Countering Hate: Leadership Cases for Nonviolent Action” last year, a handbook for “how ordinary people can do extraordinary things to build just communities and stand against hate.”

From Idaho and Washington to Tennessee and North Carolina, the book recounts nonviolent strategies adopted by people across the country.

“The book explores questions of what we can do about ideas we find despicable, even hateful,” Hoover said. “How do those of us who say we believe in equity and justice stand up against exclusion, intolerance and even violent forms of oppression without resorting to exclusion, intolerance and even violence ourselves?

“The intent of the text is to help inspire and instruct through the case studies so more and more people can stand up constructively and mobilize compassionately.”

As for current events roiling the U.S., a Canadian professor stressed the importance of the work at Gonzaga.

"The longstanding Institute for Hate Studies supports necessary work at this time, in a period of rising racist mass shootings, the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and campaigns for Black lives and for the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, among other urgent issues,” said Samir Gandesha, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. “Work against hate could hardly be more timely."

Bracke, who also serves as dean of Foley Library, agreed about the importance of the center’s work and expressed optimism.

“The center is blessed by the incredible commitment of everyone involved in its work,” he said. “Given this and the ongoing relevance of its mission, I anticipate the center’s future being as impactful as its past.”

Hoover echoed the continued strength of commitment to the center’s next 25 years given the long journey of hate as an ongoing element of the human condition.

“With partners locally and across the globe, the center will continue its work as a founding member and leading contributor to the interdisciplinary field of hate studies,” she said. “This work is central to the identity of Gonzaga as a Jesuit university, following in the ways of St. Ignatius of Loyola by naming the harms of marginalization and taking action against bias and bigotry. This is our magis: to work against hate and in solidarity for a world with greater justice by leaning into the tensions of our times.”