2016 Undergraduate Retreat


Twenty-five undergraduate students were chosen from 15 universities throughout the United States and Canada. Discussions were led by young scholars with expertise in political science, economics, linguistics, and history.

The Retreat was organized around three sessions, each focusing on one aspect of the contemporary Armenian world. Even as they expressed opinions, the participants were challenged to question the assumptions underlying those opinions. As a result, they shared insights, challenged their own views, and engaged in constructive debate about expectations, identity, community roles, individual responsibility and more.

Participating Universities

Cal State Northridge

Claremont McKenna College

Columbia University

Duke University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Northeastern University

Pasadena City College

Pierce College

Rutgers University

Tufts University

University of California, Irvine

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Santa Cruz

University of Southern California

University of Toronto





Students were challenged to identify the questions they believe are the critical ones facing the Armenian nation in the 21st century. The Institute will expand on the questions and work to formulate them so that they can be transformed into research projects.

These are a sample of the student-generated questions:

Post-Genocide Identity

    7. What is the best way to teach genocide in K-12 in the Diaspora and in Armenia? How to teach trauma without traumatizing but also without watering down or augmenting history?

    8. What are the effects of violence against women during genocides (sexual assault, gendered violence, and child brides) and how do they impact the mental health of these women, their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren?
 6. Where does the pressure to marry other Armenians come from? Is it a result of post-genocide identity or no?
Republic of Armenia

    1. How has the influx of Syrian-Armenian refugees affected the social, economic, and political fabric of Armenia?

    2. What constitutional model needs to be implemented to reform Armenia from a space riddled with corruption to a democracy that serves the interests of its people?

    3. How can foreign investment be the solution? How can Armenia be branded differently to raise interest in foreign investment?

    4. What role do different levels of Diasporan commitment to Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh play in development? Diasporan commitment can be seen via non-governmental organizations, volunteer opportunities, charities, “repatriates,” and other institutions.

    5. What are the comparisons between Mexican and Armenian labor migrants, the remittances they send back and migration patterns?

    9. Perceptions of Armenian transnationalism in Yerevan, Armenia: How do Armenians living in Armenia identify themselves in relation to Diaspora communities?

    10. Do repatriates have an influence on economic growth in Armenia? Are there similar cases in other diaspora communities?

    11. How to measure levels of assimilation, if any, in various Armenian communities in the U.S.?

    12. Exploratory study on ministries of diasporas: How/if is the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora effective compared to other ministries of diasporas?

    13. What is it that allows members of diasporas to feel an immediate connection to others of the same ethnicity in the diaspora?