Rwanda: Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding


Although there are no prerequisites, students should have an understanding of issues related to conflict/genocide theories and exhibit sensitivity and the psychological and emotional maturity required to engage with these difficult and intense subjects. Studying genocide and its aftermath, not only through lectures but also through field visits and in discussion with those in the communities most immediately affected, may be difficult and upsetting. Knowledge of French is not required, but students with a background in the language will have opportunities to use it on the program.

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The interdisciplinary coursework in the Rwanda: Post-Genocide Reconstruction and Peacebuilding program focuses on the history, culture, politics, and reconstruction of Rwanda as it recovers from the 1994 genocide, as well as the relevant political, social, and economic issues affecting the country today. Students examine the history of the genocide, its effects on Rwandan society, and a wide range of efforts to reconstruct and reconcile the society that was previously lethally divided. Students participate in a variety of research and cultural activities as well as in field trips and memorial visits throughout the semester and learn from researchers, intellectuals, practitioners, and other specialists.

During the semester, the program takes a two-week excursion to Uganda, to study a different conflict and compare the issues related to the Lord's Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda to the ones that have led to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Students dedicate the final month of the semester to an Independent Study Project (ISP). This project provides an opportunity for students to explore a topic, community, or situation related to post-genocide restoration in Rwanda through independent fieldwork. During the research and writing of their reports, students may receive guidance from researchers and experts at the National University of Rwanda, the Commission for Unity and Reconciliation, the Center for Conflict Management, or other institutions related to genocide studies.

The following syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content varies from semester to semester. Learn more about credit transfer.

National and Ethnic Identity - syllabus (PDF)
(AFRS 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course is designed to provide students with in-depth and multidisciplinary approaches to the origins of conflict in Rwanda and the events leading to the 1994 genocide. The course explores precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial processes of national and ethnic identity construction and contestation with the aim of understanding the dynamics in place prior to and during the 1994 genocide. The course provides a comparative approach to the post-conflict situation in the Great Lakes region, including an excursion to northern Uganda that provides a comparison of identity politics as precursor to conflict in the Acholi community. The seminar lecturers include leading Rwandan academics and professionals working in the areas of justice and development.

Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding - syllabus (PDF)
(PEAC 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding course is designed to provide students with in-depth and multidisciplinary approaches to post-genocide restoration and rebuilding in the areas of peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and economic development. The course explores institutional processes of memory preservation, transitional justice, and post-genocide aesthetic representation, in addition to an analysis of Rwanda’s expanding economic development efforts. The course provides a comparative approach to the post-conflict situation in the Great Lakes region, including an excursion to northern Uganda that enables a comparison of post-conflict transformation in the Acholi community. The lecturers include leading Rwandan academics and professionals working in the areas of justice and development. 

Intensive Language Study: Kinyarwanda - syllabus (PDF)
(KINY 1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The role of Kinyarwanda language training is to provide students with basic tools needed for entry into Rwandan culture. The language training is organized and carried out by a language coordinator and a staff of teachers experienced in teaching Kinyarwanda to non-native speakers. Language study consists of 45 hours of formal instruction including experiential sessions on shopping, eating out, and Rwandan cooking and music. Language study is reinforced through the homestay experience and through interactive assignments. Language study also focuses on training students in post-genocide cross-cultural communication nuances, which further facilitates their ability to conduct field research or do an internship with a local NGO.

Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus (PDF)
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
A qualitative research design course designed to provide an overview of methodological field study approaches within the local cultural context, affording students the tools necessary to conduct field research in Rwanda. The course has three main objectives. First, the course introduces students to the tools and methods of field study with a focus on how to do field research with victims of genocide and their descendants or violence perpetrators. In doing so, the course addresses the social and cultural dynamics in post-genocide Rwanda. Classes analyze institutional and cultural strategies used to prevent ethnic conflict and interrogate the role of the field researcher in a post-conflict environment. Second, the course details the ethics of field research and introduces students to the Human Subjects Review process. Third, the seminar also devotes time to psychological orientation before site visits and to the processing of field experiences. Given the emotional weight of the program and the impact it may have on students, the program has weekly sessions to debrief, process, and talk about assigned readings, field visits, or testimonies of survivors of genocide. One function of these sessions is to reorient student focus toward positive examples of bravery, caring, and compassion that studies of genocide often reveal.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Rwanda in an approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: unity, justice, and reconciliation; development and reconstruction; refugees and displaced people in the Great Lakes region; approaches to nation building; transnational conflicts and their impacts on the economic and social developments of a country; language and identity; issues surrounding collective memory and memorials; democracy and freedom of speech in post-genocide environments.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Kigali

Language Study: Kinyarwanda

Prerequisites: Coursework in conflict theories recommended.


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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