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This program examines the origins of the conflict in northern Uganda; issues of identity construction in the Ugandan context; and ongoing efforts by Ugandans to advance peace for community building and reconciliation. You will also study the challenges associated with displacement, compare and contrast judicial and non-judicial systems of justice, and get a comparative look at post-genocide development during the excursion to neighboring Rwanda.
The program is based in the vibrant northern Ugandan city of Gulu. Gulu town is a small city of 150,000 that is the cultural, economic, and political capital of northern Uganda and the Acholi people. You will live with a host family in Gulu for four weeks while attending lectures, engaging in Acholi language study, and traveling on excursions around the region. In Gulu, you will observe the work of community-based organizations, the UN, and other international humanitarian and development NGOs.
For more than two decades, Gulu was at the epicenter of conflict in northern Uganda. During this period, thousands of Ugandans were displaced from their ancestral land and forced to settle in camps for internally displaced peoples, causing the area's population to swell from 20,000 to around 1,500,000. Thousands of Ugandans became dependent on local and international NGOs and humanitarian agencies such as the UN, the World Food Program,Oxfam, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for food, shelter, water, and clothing. Following the Juba Peace Talks (2006–2008), which brought relative safety and stability to the area, many people returned to their villages and have begun recovering from the effects of war by rebuilding their homes and fields, sending their children to school, and receiving psychosocial support.
Today, Gulu town is rapidly developing due to its reputation as a safe and attractive location to pursue business opportunities. In recent years the city has seen the construction of new residential and commercial buildings, banks, and schools through its trade with Kenya, the Republic of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other East African nations.
The program's multidisciplinary thematic seminar is taught by lecturers from Gulu University, Makerere University in Kampala, and other program partners and professionals working in the fields of transitional justice, community building reconstruction, and development. You will study these issues alongside a group of Ugandan students from nearby Gulu University, who will become your informal guides to Gulu town and Acholi culture.
Through lectures, site visits with your Ugandan counterparts, critical readings, and reflective discussions, you will discover how grassroots efforts by local organizations continue to play a central factor in addressing the economic, social, and psychological effects of conflict in both Uganda and Rwanda.
You will receive intensive instruction in Acholi, a language widely spoken in northern Uganda, and understood in southern Sudan, eastern Kenya, and western Congo. Classes are taught by native Acholi speakers and are designed to help you become more immersed in the community. You will be able to improve your language skills by speaking with your host families and through interactive assignments.
This language instruction will give you the necessary grounding to use the language in day-to-day interactions as well as a framework for further language study on the ground.
The program's Research Methods and Ethics seminar prepares you for the Independent Study Project (ISP) and introduces you to the fundamentals of research design, field methodologies, and ethical norms of conducting research in a post-conflict environment. The course is designed to introduce you to conventional data collection methods, participatory observation in a new cultural context, and the fundamentals of research in small, incremental steps, starting with a group visit in Kitgum, followed by a rural homestay in that community and a mini Independent Study Project of your choosing.
During the rural homestay, you will engage in briefing and debriefing sessions with your group to process your experiences surrounding the visits to communities and memorials. At the completion of the Research Methods and Ethics seminar, you will have identified a topic and identified a research methodology for your Independent Study Project (ISP).
You will complete a research-based Independent Study Project (ISP) or a practicum-based ISP with a local NGO or association working in the area of peacebuilding, transitional justice, sustainable reconciliation, or economic development. This option gives you the opportunity to either reflect conceptually through field study on post-conflict achievements and community building in northern Uganda or to complete a practicum with a UN agency or a local or international NGO.
Sample topic areas for the ISP include:
Urban displacement in Uganda; peace camp curriculum; national holidays and celebrations as markers of identity development; local perspectives on peace negotiations; the role of media in post-conflict situations; economic dimensions of conflict; land conflicts; use of art in peacebuilding, transitional justice systems; challenges of post-conflict reconstruction; international aid in post-conflict environments; gender and conflict; the politics of conflict memory; counseling and psychosocial support in post-conflict environments.
Possible practicum sites include:
Human Rights Focus; Caritas; World Vision; St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor; St. Monica’s Vocational & Training Center; Acholi Cultural Institution (Ker Kwaro); Charity for Peace Foundation; TASO Counseling Center; Hope for Humans; Gulu Women's Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G); Gulu Local District Council; Justice and Reconciliation Project; Norwegian Refugee Council; War Child Canada.
Although there are no prerequisites, students should have an understanding of issues related to conflict/genocide theories and exhibit the sensitivity and psychological and emotional maturity required to deal with these difficult and intense subjects. Learning of regional conflict, genocide, and its aftermath not only through lectures but also through field excursions and from those individuals and communities most immediately affected may, at times, be upsetting and difficult to experience.
This program examines a particularly fascinating case of intrastate conflict and explores how the combined Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency and Ugandan government military operations have shaped contemporary dynamics in northern Uganda. Of particular interest is how these dynamics affect the socioeconomic and psychosocial wellbeing of communities given the difficult history of internally displaced people and refugees in this region and recent efforts at reconstruction.
The program also explores the interaction of local and international priorities and how they shape attempts by civil society, NGOs, and local and central governments to advance peace, reconciliation, and economic development in a post-conflict context. The program takes a comparative perspective on transitional and retributive judicial and non-judicial systems as well as traditional and modern forms of justice in Uganda’s and Rwanda’s post-conflict period.
The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
The program includes field visits to former sites of internally displaced people (IDP) in northern Uganda and refugee camps in western Uganda as well as museums, sites of collective memory, genocide memorials, and organizations working in the areas of community building and transitional justice. Excursions to different areas of Uganda provide a better understanding of the country's ethnic, geographical, and cultural makeup.
Excursions in Uganda include:
The program's excursion to Rwanda gives you the opportunity to study post-genocide restoration and to consider peacebuilding in a different context while learning about post-conflict transformation in the broader Great Lakes region. Through lectures by Rwandan academics and visits to memorial sites in Kigali, you will come face to face with the stark reality of the genocide as well as post-genocide efforts to rebuild lives and communities. You will be able to observe and learn from Rwandans' processes of remembering and forgetting and strategies of denial and redress. While in the region, you will also visit the following sites:
Martha Nalubega Wandera has worked for SIT since 2002. She became an academic director in 2007. She holds an MA in peace and conflict studies from Makerere University in Kampala; a BA in social sciences, with concentrations in social administration and sociology, also from Makerere University; a diploma in business education from Kyambogo University; a postgraduate certificate in research methods and writing skills from the Center for Basic Research in Kampala; and a postgraduate certificate in entrepreneurship, innovation, and social change at the UPEACE Center for Executive Education in Costa Rica.
Ms. Wandera’s academic interests include peace and conflict studies, business education, rural development, research methods and ethics, gender, and cross-cultural education. She has experience in designing curricula, facilitating cross-cultural learning, providing student services, and conducting program review and evaluation.
Prior to joining SIT, she taught business education in several high schools in Uganda. As a Ugandan, Ms. Wandera brings a personal understanding of the country’s current social, political, and economic situation to her scholarly commitments. Her years of professional experience have provided her with the opportunity to develop relationships with diverse partners, including university professors, nongovernmental organizations, homestay families, and a variety of service providers. As a member of the Uganda Women’s Entrepreneurship Association Limited (UWEAL), Ms. Wandera has further strengthened her connections with the business sector in Uganda. Over the past few years, she has served as academic director of SIT’s Uganda: Microfinance and Entrepreneurship program and the Uganda: Development Studies program.
Ms. Wandera enjoys working with young people as she helps prepare them to become effective intercultural leaders and global citizens.
Christine Olyel joined SIT Study Abroad as the Gulu homestay coordinator in 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in community psychology from Makerere University, a diploma in social work and social administration from Nsamizi Institute of Social Development Mpigi, an online postgraduate diploma in project planning and management from Harvard University, and a diploma in reproductive health from America Institute of Nursing Associations. During the immediate aftermath of the LRA conflict, she was part of a vanguard team providing psychosocial support and counseling to gender-based violence (GBV) survivors, mostly women, while serving as a staff of the American Refugee Committee (ARC) in Gulu and other districts in Northern Uganda. As a professional trainer in GBV, she has conducted a series of trainings for counselors all over the region. She was among the pioneers of the SASA approach to GBV in Gulu. She has been involved in planning and designing training manuals on GBV as well as conducting trainings for members of partner organizations and communities on both response to and prevention of GBV. Throughout her career and work, she has developed extensive networks with partner organizations and local governments not only in Gulu District but the greater northern region of Uganda as a whole.
She is a native of the region and is conversant with the language, culture, and tradition of the Acholi people of Northern Uganda. Currently, she is a guest lecturer at Gulu University, Faculty of Medicine.
Meddie Osundwa is a social scientist and author of a book titled Socio-economic Development: The Community Based NGOs Perspective. He holds a master’s in development studies from Uganda Martyrs University and a bachelor’s in political science and social administration from Makerere University. He is currently engaged in research, project development, and proposal writing for NGOs in Namayingo district in Eastern Uganda. He also worked with Goal – Uganda, an Irish international humanitarian organization in Eastern Uganda as a Behaviour Change Field Officer on HIV/AIDS in Bugiri district. Meddie has taught development economics and African history at Zana Mixed Secondary School in Kampala. His current areas of interest include NGOs and development, environment and sustainable development, gender and development, and African politics and governance. He has previously worked with SIT’s Uganda Development Studies program in Kampala as a student services coordinator and resource center associate. In spring 2013 Meddie joined the Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation Program in Gulu as a program assistant in charge of academics.
Simon is a social scientist from Makerere University with a major in political science and a concentration in gender and development. He has worked at the Parliament of Uganda under the International Republican Institute (IRI), which aims to develop political parties and democratization of Uganda. In addition, Simon has worked as the program assistant at RICH Consult Uganda (Right to Improved Child Health) in Amuru and Nwoya districts, where he handled issues of sexual and reproductive health among the young people affected by war. He also worked as the district field coordinator of CropLife Uganda in Nwoya District. He has wide-ranging experiences in research and evaluations in cross-cutting issues in Northern Uganda. His main areas of interest include economic livelihoods of people in northern Uganda, the elderly and most vulnerable, gender roles, equity, and transformation. He is currently program assistant in charge of student affairs at SIT Gulu.
Daniel is an African political philosopher and author of Political Economy of Ethics: Values and Valuation in Contemporary Africa published by the International Development Ethics Association. He holds a PhD in philosophy, an MA in philosophy, and a BA in philosophy and political science from Makerere University. He is currently working on a book titled Global Human Rights Field: Building an African Hermeneutics and Social Reconstruction. He is a senior fellow with the University for Peace, Africa, program and is the current chair of the Uganda Institute for Human Rights as well as the chair of Frankfurt International Research Center, Gulu. Daniel teaches philosophy and human rights at Gulu University, Makerere University, and Mbarara University of Science and Technology. He is the head of African studies and the director of the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies at Gulu University. His areas of expertise include African political philosophy, critical theory, governance and human rights, and ethics: pure and applied. Daniel joined SIT in fall 2012.
Dr. Mshilla Maghanga holds a PhD in business administration (DBA) from SMC University in Switzerland. He has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and also a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. He has a wide experience in capacity building trainings, pharmaceutical and health delivery services, research, community work, and academia. About half of his more than 20 years of experience has been spent working in northern Uganda, an area that has witnessed over two decades of armed conflict arising from Lord’s Resistance Army’s activities. He has undertaken several consultancies for several organizations, including World Vision, in the fields of capacity building, drug management systems, disaster risk management, and early recovery from the effects of war. He has also carried out several researches; published several articles, books, and book chapters; and presented several scientific papers at local and international conferences. He is also a lecturer at Gulu University and an associate consultant at Uganda Management Institute (UMI).
Ms. Rosalba is a human rights defender and activist with civil society in Northern Uganda. She is a secondary school teacher by profession, though her career was disrupted by the long conflict in Northern Uganda. She previously worked as the executive director of the Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development. She is credited for being part of the team that developed the curriculum for the Peace and Conflict and Strategic Studies Institute of Gulu University at its inception. She was also part of the 2006 Juba peace talks as a female observer between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army. She was instrumental in pushing for the 1994 peace talks and in working together with Mrs. Betty Bigombe, the then-minister for pacification of the north. Rosalba has done a number of studies on gender and conflict and peace building. She joined SIT in the spring of 2011.
Dr. Loum is a medical anthropologist. He holds a PhD in medical anthropology from the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology of the University of Vienna. Currently, he teaches at the Department of Medical Anthropology at Gulu University. Dr. Loum has previously lectured at the Institute of Tropical and Community Health and Development in Kisumu, Kenya. Before he took his research position at the University of Vienna, he worked as a hospital-based nutritionist, and in that capacity he supported diet formulation for inpatients, managed severe malnutrition of children in the therapeutic unit, promoted community food security and nutrition through counseling and health education, and taught community nutrition.
Dr. Kitara is an associate professor and a senior surgeon with public health and epidemiological training in Uganda and abroad. He serves as the head of the Department of Surgery at Gulu University Medical School and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre in the USA. He is currently a PhD candidate with research focusing on the epidemiology of pyomyositis in relation to HIV infection status; he defended the thesis in June 2014. He is the Gulu University lead researcher on the little-known nodding syndrome affecting children in northern Uganda. His main areas of research include HIV/AIDS among youth, malnutrition, biotechnology, trauma, and nodding syndrome. He has published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed international journals and has written several book chapters. He joined the program in 2008.
Dr. Paul Omach holds a PhD in conflict studies from the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge. He is a senior lecturer of political science and public administration at Makerere University. His research interests include peace and conflict studies, security studies, and state and international relations in Africa. He is the author of “The African Crisis Response Initiative: Domestic Politics and Convergence of National Interests” in African Affairs 2000; “Making the State Relevant: the Politics of State Reconstruction in Uganda” in Beyond State Failure and Collapse: Making the State Relevant in Africa, edited by George Klay Kiey, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007); and “Democratization and Conflict Resolution in Uganda” in Les Cahiers 41 (2009). Dr. Omach joined SIT in fall 2012.
Stephen Oola heads the research and advocacy department at the Refugee Law Project, School of Law, Makerere University. He is also coordinator of the Advisory Consortium on Conflict Sensitivity (ACCS), funded by the Department for International Development (UK). He holds an MA in international peace studies from University of Notre Dame (USA) and a law degree from Makerere University. He also holds a postgraduate diploma in legal practice from the Law Development Centre–Kampala and a postgraduate diploma in conflict management and peace studies (PGC) from Gulu University. Oola is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda. His research interests include forced migration, governance, human rights, transitional justice, and peace building. Mr. Oola joined SIT in 2013.
Reverend Ochola is the retired bishop of Kitgum Diocese (Anglican) in northern Uganda. In 1997, his wife Winifred was tragically killed by a landmine allegedly planted by the Lord's Resistance Army. Following her death, he decided to dedicate his life working toward peace. He holds a bachelor of theology from Emmanuel and St. Chad College, University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Canada. He served as an active participant in the Juba peace talks as peace observer and consultant on behalf of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative. He was appointed chairman of the mediation between the Pajong and Pobec clans of Mucwini, Chua County, by the Local Government of Kitgum District in January 2008. He has been involved in the mediation process between various groups including the Jie tribe of Karamoja and Acholi; the people of Teso and Bokora and Pian tribes of Karamoja in 2002–2004; and the Lango and Acholi, following the massacres at Barlonyo in Lira District in 2004–2005.
Nicholas is a lawyer and member of several human rights initiatives in Uganda, which include the Coalition Against Torture and the Police Accountability Project of Human Rights Network Uganda. Nicholas previously worked as a policy and advocacy officer with the Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives where he focused on research, treaty reporting, and advocacy. He has also worked for the International Criminal Court and the Gulu District Land Tribunal and has taught law at the Center for Conflict Management and Peace Studies at Gulu University. His major achievements include being part of the national consultation lead team of the Juba peace talks on drafting the Prevention of Torture Bill 2009, establishing the Right to Health Unit of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, drafting the guidelines on demonstration for the Uganda Human Rights Commission, and forming the Independent Development Fund Uganda. He is a human rights consultant with Akijul consultancy in Kampala. Nicholas joined SIT in 2012.
Bernard Noel Rutikanga is an African historian who obtained a BA and MA from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. At the undergraduate level he was trained to teach African history and African literature. His master's degree focused on contemporary African history. He taught for ten years at Dar es Salaam’s Teachers College before directing a Namibian and South African refugee scholarship program in Tanzania for five years in collaboration with the now-defunct World University Service, Geneva. Mr. Rutikanga has been teaching contemporary Rwandan history at the National University of Rwanda since 1995. He has published on reconciliation and ethnicity in Rwanda. He has also served as a gacaca judge (the traditional jurisdiction system that has been trying genocide related crimes committed in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994). In 2000, he was a Fulbright scholar at Boston College in Massachusetts.
Pastor Antoine Rutayisire is the current Rwandan team leader of African Enterprise, an organization that is committed to bringing healing, reconciliation, strength, and renewal back to the disillusioned and devastated Rwandan church and nation. Prior to his current position he was a lecturer at the Rwanda National University (1983–1990) and later worked as Rwanda national secretary for International Fellowship of Evangelical Students–IFES (1990–1994). Since 1999, he served as a commissioner on the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, in charge of drafting and supervising the implementation of the national policy for reconciliation in Rwanda. From 1992 to 1994, Pastor Antoine served as secretary of the African Enterprise–Rwanda Board before becoming team leader after the Tutsi Genocide of 1994. Pastor Antoine holds an MA in applied linguistics (UK, North Wales, 1985–86) and an MA in modern literature and curriculum development from the National University of Rwanda. Pastor Antoine joined SIT in 2013.
You will live with a Ugandan host family for four weeks in Gulu. Through the homestay, you become immersed in local Acholi cultural traditions and social activities, and you have many opportunities to improve your Acholi language skills. You will also gain profound insight into how people reproduce their livelihoods in a post-conflict environment, and you’ll observe processes of dealing with post-conflict trauma and post-conflict reconstruction. In the past, many students have chosen to live with their host families during the Independent Study Project (ISP) period.
Homestay families are typically middle class and are employed in various trades and sectors including the government, NGOs, and the private sector. The homestay coordinator assists the academic director in identifying, vetting, and approving all homestay families.
You will also spend one week in a rural homestay in Kitgum district in northern Uganda. During this time, you will experience rural livelihoods, as you practice participatory data collection methods for your mini Independent Study Project (ISP).
Other accommodations. During the excursions throughout Uganda and to Rwanda, you will stay in hostels, guest houses, or small hotels.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.
Program Arrival Date: Aug 21, 2016
Program Departure Date: Dec 3, 2016
The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.
Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.
Application Deadline: Jun 1, 2016
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $ 130
Books & Supplies: $ 150
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.