Rwanda

Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding

Examine the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda and efforts to foster peace, unity, and reconciliation. Travel to northern Uganda to study collective strategies of remembrance.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

None

Language of Study

Kinyarwanda

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Feb 3 ‎– May 17

Program Countries

Rwanda

Program Excursion Countries

Uganda

Program Base

Kigali

Critical Global Issue of Study

Peace & Justice

Peace & Justice Icon

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Overview

Why study peacebuilding in Rwanda?

In 1994, Rwanda was the site of a devastating genocide in which nearly 1 million people were killed in 100 days. Today, Rwanda provides an excellent case study on reconciliation and peacebuilding. In Kigali, the sprawling capital city, you’ll study the root causes and impacts of the genocide. Travel to Uganda to learn about the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict and Uganda’s own reconciliation process. You’ll visit genocide memorials, a refugee settlement, and healing programs for genocide survivors and victims of displacement. You’ll also see Murchison Falls National Park.

Highlights

  • Study the root causes of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis and civil war in northern Uganda
  • Learn to speak Kinyarwanda, the language of 12 million people
  • Examine healing programs for genocide survivors and victims of displacement
  • Visit Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda's largest national park

Prerequisites

None. However, emotional maturity is necessary, as studying genocide and its aftermath 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.

Excursions

Rwanda: Then & Now:

Visit memorials and key sites of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. Excursions include the Murambi Genocide Memorial, a technical school where more than 50,000 Tutsi were killed, and the Gisozi Genocide Memorial and Information Center’s mass grave, peace garden, and comprehensive exhibit on the Rwandan genocide. You will also see a work camp for genocide convicts and visit the Campaign Against Genocide Museum that documents all steps that were taken to stop the genocide against the Tutsis.

Uganda

During a two-week excursion to northern Uganda, you will meet Ugandan academics, visit NGOs and civil society organizations, visit a former internally displaced persons camp, and experience everyday life in this post-conflict area. You will visit one of the Ugandan Refugee settlements housing Rwandese, Somali, Sudanese, and Congolese refugees. At Murchison Falls National Park, you will spot wildlife on an early morning game drive and take a boat trip up the Nile to behold a waterfall.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Rwandan history and origins of conflict and genocidal outbreak
  • Collective strategies of remembrance and combating genocide deniers
  • Social and psychological impact of genocide on survivors
  • Changing gender relations and the status of women
  • Refugees and displaced people in post-conflict environments
  • Post-genocide economic development

Anatomy of Genocide and Intra-State Conflict

Anatomy of Genocide and Intra-State Conflict – syllabus
(AFRS3000 / 3 credits)

This course examines the histories that precipitated the genocide in Rwanda and the twenty-year conflict in northern Uganda, casting a critical eye upon the political institutions of the modern world and popular reductionist explanations that regard conflicts in Africa as driven simply by ethnic tensions. Students will visit sites of historical and political significance in both Rwanda and Uganda, through which they will begin to explore the complex relations between histories of colonization and decolonization, indigenous traditions, and Rwanda’s genocide and Uganda’s conflict. Lectures on selected topics are delivered by local Rwandan and Ugandan scholars, and students have structured assignments in homestays and conversations with surviving victims, perpetrators, bystanders, and rescuers. These experiences give students extraordinary insights into the issues covered in the course.

Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Peacebuilding – syllabus
(PEAC3000 / 3 credits)

This course provides a comparative approach to post-conflict reconciliation, resettlement, and recovery in Rwanda and Uganda. Both countries are emerging from conflict and present excellent settings in which to examine the various measures, strategies, programs, and projects that have been put in place by Western organizations, national governments, NGOs, and communities to mitigate the impact of conflict and to rebuild, reconstruct, and revive fractured relations and displaced communities. Carefully scheduled visits to NGOs, government agencies, and communities in Rwanda and Uganda are complemented by lectures by Ugandan experts and selected reading assignments. The course concludes with a critical focus on the prospects for sustainable peace in Rwanda and Uganda and in the Great Lakes region of East Africa.

Kinyarwanda

Kinyarwanda – syllabus
(KINY1003 / 3 credits)

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

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

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.

Course Options

In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:

Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

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; indigenous mechanisms of conflict resolution.

Sample ISP topics:

  • The role of the Christian church in the process of reconciliation in Rwanda
  • Assessing the social empowerment of women in post-genocide Rwanda
  • Language and identity building through the study of English
  • Physical exercise and healing of trauma in post-genocide Rwanda
  • Refugees and displaced people in the Great Lakes Region
  • Approaches to nation building
  • Transnational conflicts and their impact on economic and social development
  • Language and identity
  • Issues surrounding collective memory and memorials
  • Democracy and freedom of speech in post-genocide environments
  • Rwandan homegrown mechanisms of conflict management and settlement of disputes
  • Gender and peacebuilding

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

OR

Internship and Seminar
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

You will gain valuable work experience and enhance your professional skillset in an international work environment, drawing on the wide network of community organizations, activists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and academics connected to the program.

Sample internships include:

  • Empowering young Rwandans to work toward sustainable peace and development at Never Again Rwanda
  • Working to prevent genocide and overcome its consequences with the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide
  • Supporting advocacy work for indigent and vulnerable groups at the Legal Aid Forum
  • Assisting International Bridges to Justice’s work to protect the basic legal rights of individuals

Homestays

Kigali

Living with a host family in Kigali for six weeks, you’ll gain an inside perspective of post-genocide Rwanda. You’ll become attuned to local social and cultural dynamics, observing and learning from Rwandans’ processes of remembering and forgetting, as well as their strategies for overcoming genocide ideology and working toward unity and reconciliation. Living with a local family will give you additional practice speaking and understanding Kinyarwanda.

Host families are usually middle class and live throughout Kigali. Your host parents may be small business owners, government employees, accountants, doctors, or lawyers. Your Rwandan family may include many siblings in addition to other relatives. Some families live in large, single, self-contained houses with a fenced garden, while others have smaller homes and outdoor bathrooms and cooking facilities. You will find soccer and church important to many Rwandan families. You will likely take public transportation to class, which will help teach you to get around the city.

Kigali is a medium-sized, clean, and modern city that show signs of successful recovery from the devastating impact of the 1994 genocide. However, parts of the city also reflect the poor living conditions many Rwandans still endure. Kigali stretches across many hills providing breathtaking views of the city and surrounding valleys.

Career Paths

Alumni of this program are currently working as:

  • peace and human rights activists in their schools, communities, and organizations.

  • researchers in the fields of peace, justice, and development.

  • fields related to peace and conflict, conducting further studies at master’s and PhD levels.

Faculty & Staff

Rwanda: Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding

Celine Mukamurenzi, MA
Academic Director
Apollon Kabahizi
Compliance Coordinator
Janvier Ruhigisha
Office Manager
Mercy Atuhurira
Program and Student Services Coordinator
Jean Pierre Bisangwa
Language Teacher

Discover the Possibilities

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  • HELLO RWANDA

    A Jean Pierre Tuyizere and Kayla Fertman film

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  • Student presents his undergrad research on post-genocide coping in Rwanda

    The University of Notre Dame’s Human Development Conference is an annual, student-led conference that provides a platform for dialogue in which students from all different backgrounds and disciplines can share their development-focused research.

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