Dr. Deborah Petersen-Perlman Ph.D

Image of Deborah Petersen-Perlman
Professional Title
Associate Professor & Associate Department Head


Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1982 
M.A., University of Iowa, 1979 
B.A., University of Arizona, 1976


Deborah Petersen-Perlman has taught in the Communication Department at UMD since September 1988. In the 1990s she taught courses in "Television Criticism", "Children and Television", "Violence in the Media", "Media Literacy", "Public Speaking" and Interpersonal Communication". For the past 15 years she has taught mostly media courses, including "Foundations of Mass Communication", "Media Communications", and "Deciding What's News". She also teaches a senior seminar on the First Amendment and has just introduced a course on the Holocaust using memoirs and testimonies.

In 1999, Dr. Petersen-Perlman became the chair of the Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee, a group responsible for sponsoring annual Holcocaust Commemoration events.

Since 2008, Dr. Petersen-Perlman has made numerous trips to WWII concentration camps and ghettos in Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland. She has made numerous public presentations on Holocaust related themes, including Buchenwald, the land between Hitler and Stalin, Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung, and Holocaust tourism.

Although born in Boston, Dr. Petersen-Perlman grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she graduated from the University of Arizona. After completing her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, she took her first job at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. After brief stints at the University of Iowa as a visiting professor, and then at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, she moved to Duluth in 1988. She raised her four children together with her husband, Jim Perlman (the publisher of Holy Cow! Press). They celebrated the arrival of their first grandchild in January 2016.

Personal Statement

I feel grateful to be able to do work which allows me to engage in lifelong learning. I feel most creative as I design and develop my courses. Watching students take ownership of whatever subject we happen to be studying is a particular joy. I am particularly excited to be teaching a course on the Holocaust in the fall of 2015, as this has been a subject of personal interest for many years.

Courses Taught

Foundations of Mass Communication 

Deciding What’s News 

Media Communications 

Media Literacy 

Interpersonal Communication (from time to time) 

Public Speaking (although not for a very long time)

Telling Stories About the Holocaust through Memoirs and Testimonies

Senior Seminar--"The First Amendment:  Bringing Democratic Principles to Life"