Uganda and Rwanda: Peace and Conflict Studies in the Lake Victoria Basin

Examine the root causes of sociopolitical conflict and critically analyze measures to prevent conflict and foster resettlement and reconciliation in Uganda and Rwanda.

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This groundbreaking study abroad program, offered during the summer, engages students with scholars, government officials, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) working on conflict prevention and mitigation in Rwanda and Uganda. In both countries, students are immersed in the culture: they live in homestays, ride public buses to and from school, eat their lunches at local restaurants and learn some basic local language and culturally appropriate ways of starting a conversation with local people. Through interactions and conversations with locals, assigned readings, and critical reflection, students obtain deep insights into complex histories and sociopolitical dynamics in contemporary Rwandan and Ugandan society.

The program is based on the philosophy that students learn best if material is presented to them in an experiential way. Participants’ curiosity, experiences, and emotions are at the center of their learning. Various group activities are scheduled to foster a positive group climate as it is instrumental to a productive individual experience.

The program combines coursework in the classroom with field visits to historical and cultural sites as well as to communities, NGOs, and government departments working in peacebuilding, reconstruction, and recovery. Students have lectures and assigned readings on history, contemporary politics, and the role of the state, complemented by critical reflection and analysis sessions. Lectures from university faculty and discussions with NGO leaders and local residents help students analyze causes of conflict and challenges to resettlement and reconciliation.

This program uses theories and concepts from multiple disciplines — such as psychology, political science, historical analysis, anthropology, and sociology — to unravel and examine the causes and dynamics of sociopolitical conflict in the Lake Victoria basin of East Africa and in the contemporary movement of modern industrialism. Broadly, the program endeavors to situate conflict causation within contemporary political and socioeconomic institutional formations and in human and social psychology. Ongoing policies and programs by governments and NGOs that are intended to prevent and mitigate conflict are critically examined.
Students should expect to be challenged and to challenge, based on their own disciplinary background, mainstream explanations of the causes and dynamics of conflict in the contemporary world.

Immersion in two countries
In both Rwanda and Uganda, students are immersed in the cultures and daily lives of the countries’ citizens. Students experience two homestays (one in each country) that are each approximately two weeks in length. Students also experience multiple educational excursions to carefully selected sites, including rural resettling communities in northern Uganda and genocide memorials in Rwanda. Learn more about the program’s excursions.

Costs Dates

Credits: 6

Duration: 6 weeks

Program Base: Gulu, Uganda, and Kigali, Rwanda

Prerequisites: No prerequisites, but students will benefit from a background in peace and conflict resolution, social justice, human rights, and/or African history and politics. Psychological stability and emotional maturity are required in order for students to co Read more...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Summer 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Summer 2012 Evaluations (PDF)
Summer 2011 Evaluations (PDF)

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