Ashley Greene is an assistant professor in Keene State’s Holocaust and genocide department who has been teaching here since fall of 2016. She teaches three classes each semester, is on the Honors Council and is part of the Global Education Office Council. But that’s only the beginning of her work; as Greene says, she is always writing papers, attending meetings overseas and taking part in numerous organizations.
Greene did her doctoral work at Notre Dame in Indiana, where she completed a hybrid program, joint Ph.D. in peace studies and history. “I went into the program knowing that I wanted to work on genocide studies. Because I had taken a class in college, actually [an] introduction to Holocaust and genocide studies, and that was it for me… it changed the career path of my life,” Greene said.
Her professors not only changed her career choice but her thought process. Greene said one thing her professors left her with was how to form her own opinions. “They wanted to teach me how to think, not what to think,” she said.
She took what she knew, and had to do something with it. “I couldn’t believe that I had never knew that 800,000 to a million people in Rwanda had been slaughtered in 100 days, and my life didn’t change one bit. I just went on living my life as if it never happened, I never knew about it. And so that lack of awareness became, for me, what I felt my purpose could be,” Greene said.
Greene said that she wanted to be at a place where she could share what has happened and what still is.
Her main area of focus is mainly 20th century East Africa and the Great Lakes Region. When she started her Ph.D. program, which was concentrating on Uganda, Greene was learning specifically how they dealt with the violence occurring and how to teach the past to younger generations. Then, after college, she lived and taught English in Tanzania for a while.
She said it was such a great coincidence that when she was done with her studies KSC had an opening in a position she only dreamt of achieving.
Ashley Dahl, a senior majoring in Holocaust and genocide studies and criminal justice and minoring in dance, has been in Greene’s classes and is currently student teaching for her. “Dr. Greene as a teacher is very dedicated and passionate, and I think this translates to her students. She is very supportive of her students and wants them to succeed,” Dahl said.
Adjunct Professor Leo Sandy, who is currently teaching at Plymouth State University for the semester, said, “Ashley is a compassionate person who is very attentive to her students. She knows her material exceedingly well and she is passionate about peace and social justice. This passion is carried into the classroom.”
Greene really tries to connect with her students, learning their names and who they are as individual people. “In Holocaust and genocide studies we know that when someone becomes less than an individual to you that’s when we see great violence,” Greene said.
Dahl also said that Greenemakes that effort to be inclusive of all students. “Her connection with students is very open and willing to help. Whenever you have a question she is right there answering it. Even in big classes, she circles around the classroom, checking in with everyone,” said Dahl.
Sandy has worked very closely with Greene over the past years. Along with teaching her class while she was on maternity leave last fall with her 15-month-old son Henry, they continue to have a scholarly relationship. “I have been a guest speaker in Ashley’s classes. She and I are also on the board of directors at RISE, a new organization that promotes peace and social justice education in K-12 schools.”
Sandy said they also are co-authoring a book called “PeaceTalk” with a retired professor from Plymouth State. Just like this, Greene does many actions outside of the classroom to bring her lessons she teaches to the real world.
“Ashley walks the talk,” said Sandy. “Ashley travels around the world working with others to deal with the prevention of war and post-war healing… She helps advance global awareness about KSC and the specific mission of the Cohen Center,” he explained.
“What I find inspiring about her is that she continues the work in her field outside of Keene, working with other countries and organizations. It just shows how devoted she is to her work,” said Dahl.
Greene said that she mostly travels when working with AIPG (The Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities). She is the academic programs officer for Africa and transitional justice, where she works with governments all over the world to provide education, training and legal assistance on atrocity prevention. “So what I do is develop the training curriculum for this program that we run in the Great Lakes Region in Africa,” Green said.
While students are away for spring break, Greene and Dr. Jim Waller, professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at KSC, will be in Poland for their annual Auschitz meeting called the Global Lemkin Seminar, named after Raphael Lemkin who coined the word genocide. “Government officials from all over the world will come to that seminar. We’re not working with a specific state because it’s truly a global set of participants,” said Greene.
Greene said that the language barrier is something that makes her work a little harder. With traveling as part of her job, she is constantly going to countries where English is not always and may not be spoken there at all. “I think if I could go back in time very early on, and do anything, I would try to pick up more languages,” she said. Greene does know some Swahili, but there can be multiple versions of dialects that make communication challenging. But Greene still gets her points across and she is willing to put in the extra work.
“To sit in a room with policy makers, state officials, government officials, with ministers, teachers from the country, civil society lawyers… that has been the opportunity I never expected to have… it’s been the most challenging, but the most rewarding,” said Greene.
Greene is using her education to spread awareness to students, faculty and other countries, and Sandy believes its part of a long process to a better world. “Ashley [Greene] brings a new discipline to KSC, peace and social justice studies, which perfectly complements Holocaust and genocide studies. The latter teaches us what should never happen again, and the former teaches us what we need to do to help prevent mass killing based on prejudice as well as the propaganda and indoctrination that fuel the distortion of human perception that can lead them to heinous acts. Thus, Ashley’s teaching and scholarship are vital to the eventual abolition of war and social injustice,” Sandy said.
Kiana Wright can be contacted at