Ireland: Transformation of Social and Political Conflict

Key Features

Program components
The program consists of four main phases:

  • A six-week homestay in Dublin during which time students have lectures and educational excursions in and around the city
  • A one-week period on rural excursion in Mayo, western Ireland
  • Three-week period in Northern Ireland: Armagh, Belfast, Corrymeela, and Derry/Londonderry
  • Four-week period when students complete an Independent Study Project

Students at orientation

Additionally, there is a program orientation in the Wicklow mountains and a final evaluation period; the program concludes in western Ireland. Each facet of the program exposes students to different perspectives on social and political change and the challenges and potential of conflict transformation.

The program begins in Dublin, Ireland's vibrant capital city. Students live with host families, attend lectures and seminars, and actively explore the city. Site visits with community workers and local activists provide insight into the social issues shaping inner-city communities. Students have opportunities to engage actively in programs working with children, immigrants, or others on the margins of society. In Northern Ireland, students focus on the rebuilding of civil society and the creation of an inclusive political process. Meeting police officers, members of the Orange Order, and political representatives in Stormont and with former combatants from Republican and Loyalist traditions, visiting segregated neighborhoods and peace walls, all contribute different perspectives to understanding the complexities of the peace process.

  • Students attend creative workshops in mediation skills and group processes
  • Film, literature, music, theater, art, and adventure learning, are all utilized to create a dynamic understanding and relationship to the program’s themes
  • Students have opportunities to attend conferences and seminars (e.g., Journey toward Healing, Trauma and Spirituality Conference, Belfast, March 2011) that help to broaden understanding of program themes and contemporary Irish life on both sides of the border.
  • Students also participate in the active social and cultural life of Dublin, Belfast, and Derry. 

Educational Excursions
Extensive travel to the west of Ireland and to different parts of Northern Ireland allows students to appreciate the variety and beauty of landscape and creates a strong understanding of the issues dominant in each place.

Learn more about the program’s excursions.

Research Methods and Ethics
Through the program's Research Methods and Ethics seminar, students learn appropriate methodologies that prepare them to undertake primary research on critical issues and topics relating to the transformation of social and political conflict. Students develop research skills and approaches that are used for the Independent Study Project.

Independent Study Project
Students spend the final four weeks of the semester engaged in an Independent Study Project (ISP). Students conduct their projects in Dublin, Belfast, Derry, or another approved location appropriate to the project. The ISP provides each student an opportunity to pursue original research on a situation or topic of particular interest to them. Sample topic areas for the ISP include

  • Youth engagement in the arts
  • The role of sports in reconciliation efforts in Belfast
  • An ethnography of aerosol artists in Belfast
  • Policing in Northern Ireland
  • The role of language in the construction of Irish identity
  • Immigration and acceptance in Dublin
  • Urban regeneration in inner city Dublin
  • The Corrib Gas dispute
  • Murals as political expression

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Dublin

Prerequisites: None. Coursework in and/or personal commitment to peace and conflict studies is strongly recommended. Read more...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

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

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