Scott Straus | Courtesy of UofL

A University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor has won the 2018 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order for his work researching genocide. Scott Straus’ research into the leading causes of genocide in Africa led to his book “Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa,” which was published in 2015.

For the book, Straus studied countries in post-colonial Africa where genocide took place and countries where genocide could have taken place but did not. Specifically, he analyzed three non-genocide cases (Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal) and two in which genocide took place (Rwanda and Sudan).

“Straus’ work alerts us to the circumstances under which genocide emerges, and he identifies key points when action by national leaders, and efforts by the international community, can halt the slide into mass violence,” said Charles Ziegler, Grawemeyer Award director and a member of UofL’s department of political science, in a news release.

In addition to genocide, Straus specializes in human rights, political violence and African politics. He was appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council by President Barack Obama and was a fellow at the National Holocaust Museum. Before starting in academia, Straus was a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Straus also has published several books on Rwanda, including “The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda,” “Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence,” and “Intimate Enemy.”

This week, all five 2018 Grawemeyer Award winners will be announced by the University of Louisville. UofL gives awards in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology and education and gives a religion prize jointly with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The 2018 winners will present free lectures about their award-winning ideas when they visit Louisville in April to accept their $100,000 prizes.

The awards were founded in 1984 by H. Charles Grawemeyer to honor the impact that a single idea can have on the world.