Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo: Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans

Faculty and Staff

"The director, program coordinator, language teacher, and homestay coordinator truly care about the welfare and learning progress of the students. I gained much more from my semester with SIT Balkans than I could have expected. This program is truly one of a kind."

—Michael M Sweigart, George Washington University

Orli Fridman, PhD, Academic Director
Dr. Orli Fridman is the academic director of the SIT Study Abroad program in the Balkans (Peace and Conflict Studies in Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo). Dr. Fridman received her PhD at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) at George Mason University (2006). She holds a BA in political science and Middle Eastern studies from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MA in history of the Middle East from Tel Aviv University. Her interdisciplinary research interests focus on the internal dynamics of societies in conflict, the role of social memory studies in teaching and researching post-conflict transformation and critical approaches to encounters of groups in conflict.
Since 1994, Dr. Fridman has been involved in political education. She was trained as a facilitator for groups in conflict and worked with groups from Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and the successor states of the former Yugoslavia. Dr. Fridman is the director of the Center for Comparative Conflict Studies (CFCCS), an educational organization dedicated to the comparative analysis of societies in conflict, working primarily within the context of the conflicts in Palestine/Israel and the former republics of Yugoslavia. 
Her recent publications include "Alternative Calendars and Memory Work in Serbia: Anti-war Activism after Milošević" (Forthcoming); "Structured Encounters in Post-Conflict/Post-Yugoslav Days: Visiting Belgrade and Prishtina," (Civil Society and Transitional Justice in the Balkans, 2013); "It Was Like Fighting a War with Our Own People: Anti-War Activism in Serbia during the 1990's'" (Nationalities Papers 39, 2011); "Breaking States of Denial: Anti-Occupation Activism in Israel after 2000" (Genero 10/11, 2007); and "Alternative Voices in Public Urban Space: Serbia's Women in Black" (Ethnologia Balkanica 10, 2006).

Review Dr. Fridman’s complete CV. (PDF)

View Dr. Fridman's research.

Nenad Porobić, Program Coordinator
Nenad Porobić was born in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He later lived in Zadar, Croatia, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, two cities he had to flee as a consequence of the wars starting in 1991–92. As a result, he then lived in Belgrade, Serbia, until 1995, when he left for the United States to avoid the military draft.  He was able to do so by participating in an exchange program with World Learning. He spent a decade in the US, obtaining both a bachelor’s and master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (in 2001 and 2003, respectively). While in the US, he worked in a variety of positions, including resident assistant, teaching assistant, research assistant, electronic design engineer, and maintenance supervisor in different environments (academic, corporate, and industrial). Nenad returned to Belgrade in 2006 and became engaged as a peace activist. He was actively involved in regional peacebuilding efforts while working at the Center for Nonviolent Action, a regional peacebuilding organization (Sarajevo/Belgrade). His interests are social and political activism, demilitarization, dealing with the past, and filmmaking. He is a member of the Working Group “Four Faces of Omarska,” a research, production, and performance group that questions the memorial production strategies through the medium of social sculpture. In his role with the SIT Study Abroad Balkans program, Nenad assists Dr. Fridman in administering the program, accompanies students on excursions, and is a source of knowledge and support during the program’s stay in Belgrade.

Mirjana Kosić, MA, Academic Assistant and Local Coordinator, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mirjana Kosić received her MA at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Bologna. She explored the dynamics of performatively constructed discourse and the importance of preventive diplomacy in her thesis "The Use of Language in Diplomacy." Prior to that, Mirjana graduated from the Faculty of Humanities in Banja Luka, at the Department for English Language and Literature.

Since 2009, Mirjana has been giving lectures to SIT students in Belgrade focused on the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Dayton Peace Agreement, and the role of international community in post-war reconstruction and state-building.

Mirjana is also co-founder and executive director of TransConflict Serbia, an organization established in 2008 in response to the challenges facing intra- and inter-ethnic relations in the Western Balkans. Prior to that, Mirjana worked as executive coordinator at the Belgrade NGO Centre. Her interest and work in the area of conflict transformation stems from her professional engagement with NATO peace implementation and stabilization forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina (IFOR and SFOR, respectively) and other international organizations and institutions, including the EU Office for Customs and Fiscal Assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina (EU CAFAO).

Mirjana is fluent in English and Italian. In her free time, Mirjana translates for various outlets (including TED) and publications.

Nikica Strižak

Nikica Strižak, Language Instructor
Nikica is currently a PhD student in the department of Serbian language at the University of Belgrade. She holds an MA in teaching Serbian as a foreign language as well as a BA in Serbian language and literature from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philology.

Her academic interests include teaching Serbian as a foreign language, the differences between teaching and testing adults and children, and the methodological differences between teaching Serbian to native speakers of Slavic languages and to individuals with no previous knowledge of a Slavic language.

She has been teaching the intensive Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian language course to SIT students in Belgrade since the fall of 2010. Currently, she also teaches at the Center for Serbian as a Foreign Language at the University of Belgrade.

Before joining SIT Study Abroad, she provided private language instruction to foreigners living in Belgrade; she also taught at a foreign language school until July 2010.

Jelena Nikolic

Jelena Nikolic, Homestay Coordinator
Jelena Nikolic holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and media and a master’s degree in conflict studies, both from Faculty of Media and Communications in Belgrade, Singidunum University. She returned to Belgrade in 2008 after spending nine years in Greece. Jelena has been teaching and translating Greek for the last three years. Her primary interests are conflict studies and dealing with the past.

Yll Buleshkaj, Local Coordinator, Prishtina, Kosovo
Yll Buleshkaj was born in Istog/Istok, Kosovo. He has a master’s degree from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna (joint MA program)in democratization and human rights in southeastern Europe, and a BA in political science and public administration from the University of Prishtina. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree through the MA program in civil society and local development at the University of Prishtina. He has extensive experience and knowledge of the Balkans. Yll’s areas of expertise include political parties, parliamentary capacity building, good governance, and election officials. Until recently, he was working as a program officer at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Kosovo mission. He has managed projects dealing with political parties, women in politics, parliamentary groups, media development, and legislative reform and has worked for a variety of national and international organizations. A native Albanian speaker, he also speaks English and Serbian as well as some Italian and French. Yll currently resides in Prishtina, Kosovo.

Lejla Mamut, Local Coordinator, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lejla Mamut was born in Skopje, Macedonia, and moved to Sarajevo in 2006. She is now a human rights consultant for the Swiss-based organization, TRIAL: Track Impunity Always. Lejla Mamut’s experience includes extensive research on war casualties and other aspects of the 1992–1995 war and work with victims of war on different aspects of transitional justice. She holds an MA in democracy and human rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna (joint MA program). Her MA thesis, “Four Layers of Deficiency Concerning the Crime of Genocide: the Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” was selected as one of the top five theses in her class and was published in the two universities’ yearly journal.

Nataša Miletić

Nataša Miletić, Language Instructor
Nataša Miletić was born in Kruševac, central Serbia. She holds an MA in teaching Serbian as a foreign language and a BA in Serbian language and literature from the Faculty of Philology at the University of Belgrade.

Nataša joined SIT study abroad in fall 2012, as a language instructor for intermediate, advanced, or native Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian students.

Prior to joining SIT, Nataša taught Serbian in primary school and provided private lessons in Serbian language to foreigners living in Belgrade.

Her academic interests include developing methods of teaching Serbian as a foreign language and studies of cognitive linguistics. 

Aleksandar Škundrić

Aleksandar Škundrić, Program Assistant
Aleksandar Škundrić holds a BA in communications from the Faculty of Media and Communications, Belgrade, Serbia. Since 2004, Aleksandar has worked on numerous projects and has attended various trainings with many human rights and LGBT organizations from Serbia and abroad. In 2007 he did a fellowship program in New York with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In 2010 he was a member of a team that worked on the preparation of a scientific-research project proposal titled “Gender Equality and Culture of the Citizens Status: historical and theoretical foundations in Serbia” for the Faculty of Political Science, Belgrade.

Aleksandar is a resource for local knowledge as well as a support for students during the semester. He also manages the SIT Balkans library along with other academic resources and accompanies students on excursions.

Lecturers for this program include:

Mr. Ahmet Alibasic
Ahmet Alibasic, MA, is a lecturer at the Faculty of Islamic Studies at the University of Sarajevo where he teaches courses on Islamic culture and civilization. He is also the director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Sarajevo. Mr. Alibasic was educated in Riyadh (Arabic language) and Kuala Lumpur (Islamic studies, political science, and Islamic civilization). He is actively involved in inter-religious dialog and served as the first director of the Interreligious Institute in Sarajevo (2007-2008), which was jointly established by the Islamic community, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, and the Jewish community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 2003 until 2007 he served as deputy president of the Association of Islamic Scholars in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has authored and translated articles and books focused on Islam and politics, Islamic movements, Islam in the Balkans, democratization of the Muslim World, opposition legitimization in Islam, church-state relations in Europe and the United States, human rights in Islam and in the Muslim world, and Islamic history and civilization.

Mr. Kurt Bassuener
Kurt Bassuener is a co-founder and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council, a global initiative for accountability on the promotion of democracy. He also works as an independent policy analyst in Sarajevo. Mr. Bassuener earned his BA in international relations from American University’s School of International Service and his MA in European studies from the Central European University in Prague. His master’s thesis advocated a standing all-volunteer UN peacekeeping division under the authority of the Security Council.

Mr. Bassuener served as a strategy analyst for the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo from 2005-2006. His previous positions include political and campaign analyst for the OSCE-ODIHR’s Election Observation Mission in Ukraine, acting assistant director for government affairs at the International Rescue Committee, program officer for the US Institute of Peace’s Balkans Initiative, and associate director of the Balkan Action Council.

Mr. Bassuener’s numerous opinion pieces and analyses have appeared in The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal Europe, The St. Petersburg Times, The Irish Times, Jane’s Defense Weekly, and European Voice. He co-authored, with Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman, the Diplomats’ Handbook for Democracy Development Support, a project of the Community of Democracies.

Jelisaveta Blagojević, PhD
Jelisaveta Blagojević received her PhD in gender studies from the University of Novi Sad, Association of the Centers for Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies and Research. Her dissertation was entitled “Theoretical Contribution to Gender Studies: Discourses on Identity, Difference and Otherness” (2006). She received an MPhil in gender and culture studies from Open University London and a BA in philosophy from the Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade University.

Dr. Blagojević teaches at the Faculty for Media and Communications, Singidunum University, and has served as the university’s dean of academic affairs since 2006. She also has worked at the Belgrade Women’s Studies and Gender Research Center as a coordinator and lecturer since 2001. Since 2003 she has been a visiting lecturer at the gender and politics program at the Political Science Faculty, Belgrade University. She has taught as a visiting lecturer at universities across southeast Europe.

Publications include:

  • Media/Power (editor), Faculty for Media and Communication, Belgrade, (forthcoming)
  • “Kultura koja dolazi” (“Culture to Come”) in Kultura, Drugi, Žene (Culture, Others, Women) eds. Svenka Savić, Jasenka Kodrnja and Svetlana Slapšak, Institut za društvena istraživanja, Hrvatsko filozofsko društvo and Plejada, Croatia, 2010
  • Hieroglyphs of Jealousy, Research Center in Gender Studies, Euro-Balkan Institute Skopje, 2008
  • Zajednica onih koji nemaju zajednicu (Community Without Community), FMK, Belgrade, 2008 
  • Gender and Identity (editor), Collection: See Theories in Gender Studies, (Skopje, Ljubljana, Belgrade) in 2006.

Her research interests include contemporary (political) philosophy, media studies, queer studies, and gender studies. She was born and currently lives in Belgrade.

Daša Duhaček, PhD
Daša Duhaček is a professor in the political science department of Belgrade University. She received her BA in philosophy from the University of Belgrade. She holds an MA in women's studies and a PhD in political science, both from Rutgers University. Prof. Duhaček is a co-founder of the Belgrade Women's Studies Center and Gender Research Center (1992), where she is now one of the coordinators. Her fields of research are feminist theory, philosophy, and political theory.  She has taught at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest (1997–1999); Novi Sad, Serbia; Kotor, Montenegro; the State University of New York; Swarthmore College; the NOISE Athena Network Summer School; Inter University Center (IUC) in Dubrovnik, and elsewhere.

Prof. Duhaček has organized several international conferences in Belgrade, including What Can We Do for Ourselves? East European Feminist Conference, 1994; Inaugural Conference: Women's & Gender Studies in the Countries in Transition, 1998; and The Legacy of Hannah Arendt: Beyond Totalitarianism and Terror, 2002.

Her recent publications include:

  • Captives of Evil: The Legacy of Hannah Arendt, co-edited with Obrad Savic, 2002
  • "The Making of Political Responsibility: The Case of Serbia" in eds. J. Regulska, J. Lukic, and D. Zavirsek "Feminist Perspectives on Democratization in Serbia," 2006
  • Breme naseg doba: Odgovornost i rasudjivanje u delu Hane Arent (The Burden of our time: Responsibility Judgment in Hannah Arendt’s Work), 2010

Vladimir Pavićević, PhD
Dr. Vladimir Pavićević received his PhD from the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Belgrade in 2011. 

He holds an MA degree from The University of Bonn (master's thesis: “Great compromise: experiences from the process of constitution of the United States of America and Europe”) and a BA from the Department for International Relations at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade. From 2004 to 2011 Dr. Pavićević pursued his post-doctoral education in Austria and the United States. He published several works in the fields of political theory, political philosophy, and European studies. Since 2011 he had led the research forum of the European Movement in Serbia.

His recent publications include:

  • Toward the European Union, Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Belgrade, 2007 (co-author)
  • The European Union – Youth Guidebook, Belgrade Open School, Belgrade, 2006
  • Discussion about Europe, Belgrade Open School, Belgrade, 2006 (co-author)
  • Handbook of Globalisation, Belgrade Open School, Belgrade, 2003 (co-author)

Dennis Gratz, PhD
Dr. Dennis Gratz was born in 1978 in Sarajevo. He received his PhD from the University of Hamburg, Faculty of Social Sciences. His thesis dealt with systematic war crimes committed during the war in Bosnia 1992–1995, with a specific focus on elimination of local elites (theory of elitocide). Dr. Gratz holds a BA from the Law School of the University of Sarajevo and an MA in democracy and human rights from the Center for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies at the University of Sarajevo, in cooperation with the University of Bologna. In 2003, he passed the bar examination and started to work as an attorney at law in Sarajevo, specializing in libel law, copyright law, and the law on industrial property. In 2008–2009 he worked as a coordinator of the regulation work group with the DTT Forum of the Communications Regulatory Agency of B&H.

Dr. Gratz published several scientific studies and essays on the topic of war crimes, constitutional issues, and human rights protection and implementation, and was engaged as lecturer and panelist on many international and domestic scientific conferences and panels. His PhD dissertation was published in 2007 under the title Elitozid in Bosnien und Herzegowina 1992–1995 (Elitocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992–1995), Baden Baden: Nomos Verlag. He is currently lecturing on the subjects of state and government and public policies at the School of Science and Technology in Sarajevo as well as Introduction to Genocide Studies at the Center for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies at the University in Sarajevo within the MA program Democracy and Human Rights in South-East Europe. In 2009, Dr Gratz was a Fulbright visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York City.

During the 2010 winter semester, Dr Gratz conducted a series of lectures on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia as a guest professor at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Studies at Hamburg University, Germany.

Dr Gratz is also co-founder and current chairman of Naša stranka, a socio-liberal and green political party which was established in 2008. He was the candidate for the mayor of the municipality Centar Sarajevo during the local elections of 2008.

Afrim Hoti, PhD
Dr. Hoti received his PhD at the Institute of Peace Research and Security Studies at Hamburg University.

He obtained his bachelor's degree at the Law Faculty of the University of Prishtina and his master’s degree in democracy and human rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna, supported by the European Commission. In 2003 he completed a comparative research study at Abo Akademi University (Finland) related to the world crisis with the main focus on Kosovo and East Timor. Dr. Hoti has been on the academic staff at the University of Prishtina since 2004 as a lecturer at the Law Faculty and in the Department of Political Sciences. He was a visiting lecturer at many foreign universities (Sapienza University of Rome, University of Lower Silesia, University of Maribor, etc.). He was a board member of the University of Prishtina (2000–2002), a member of its academic senate (2000–2002), and head of the Prishtina International Relations Office (2009–2010).

Dr. Hoti acted as the coordinator and director in the office of the prime minister of Kosovo (2003–2005). He is continuously involved in different EU and USAID projects in Kosovo dealing mainly with legal and political aspects of numerous institutions such as the Special Chamber of the Kosovo Supreme Court, different ministries, the Parliament of Kosovo, etc.

He published several articles in local and international journals, including Kosovo – Quo Vadis (2007) at the Hamburg University, Human Rights and International Administration in Kosovo at the Abo Academy University in Finland (2003), and The Specifics of Power in Kosovo under International Administration (2002), as well as two legal studies, "Labour Rights in Kosovo" and "Economic and Social Rights in Kosovo" (2010), supported by the Government of Cantabria and the Madrid Chamber of Advocates.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Belgrade

Language Study: Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian

Prerequisites: None


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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