Sara Halpern arrives at St. Olaf, bringing a wealth of experiences as a world traveler, a marathon runner, and a woman with disabilities (cochlear implant in one ear). And some New York Jewishness.


Dr. Halpern is revising her PhD dissertation into a monograph, Saving the Unwanted: Shanghai's Jewish Refugees and the Many Faces of Humanitarianism, 1943-1949. It transforms a little-known Holocaust story of survival into a global microhistory of post-World War II global refugee crisis. It makes interventions into extensive scholarship, which centers heavily on Europe's humanitarian and refugee crisis, by showcasing the true scope of Western-oriented (actually, driven the United States) relief and refugee organizations and their possibilities and limitations. Further, Saving the Unwanted, a tongue-in-check title, reveals the lasting legacy of foreign imperialism in China and continuities of extreme nationalism and racism after Nazism: Neither the Western Powers nor China wanted to take responsibility for the well-being of Jewish refugees.

Dr. Halpern has published in American Jewish History.  More recently, her essay, "'A Problem of Some Delicacy: Chinese Sovereignty, Jewish Refugees, and the West, 1945-1946” in the edited volue, The History of Shanghai Jewish Refugees: New Pathway in Research (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022).  She has a forthcoming essay on the impact of statelessness for Jewish refugees in Shanghai in an edited volume by Jay Winter and Kolleen Guy (Cambridge University Press). Currently, she is researching the management and care of elderly and disabled Jewish refugees in Shanghai for a journal article.

Dr. Halpern's work has been internationally and nationally recognized through fellowships and grants including, but not limited to, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Studienstiftung des Deustchen Vlkes/Leo-Baeck Programme, Association for Jewish Studies, American Academy for Jewish Research, and Social Sciences Research Council. 


Dr. Halpern teaches courses in Modern Europe with global and transnational foci. She is especially interested in migration, racism, empires, and the Holocaust. As a teacher, Dr. Halpern works with students, of differnet abilities, life experiences, and backgrounds, reach their true potential as learners and human-beings. In addition, she believes in helping students develop self-advocacy, a critical life-long skill.

Courses for 2023-2024

HIstory 188: Sisters Under the Swastika (Fall, Spring)

History 191: Europe and Colonialism, 1492-Present (Fall)

History 188: Racism and Antisemitism in Europe (Fall)

History 299: Great Migrations in Europe (Spring)

History 397: Global History of Human Rights (Spring)