Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo

Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans

Study peacebuilding, post-conflict transformation, and the impact of international intervention and political transition in three southeast European countries.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

None

Language of Study

Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Feb 3 ‎– May 17

Program Countries

Serbia

Program Excursion Countries

Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Program Base

Belgrade

Critical Global Issue of Study

Peace & Justice

Peace & Justice Icon

Overview

Why study peace and conflict in the Balkans?

The Balkans experienced a series of separate but related conflicts throughout the 1990s. Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia until its breakup in 1992, is your base as you study post-conflict transformation in three Balkan countries. One of the oldest cities in Europe, Belgrade sits at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. It was strategically important throughout the ages, however, these days the capital of Serbia is better known for its nightlife, earning a reputation as the city that never sleeps.

You’ll also spend extensive time in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s capital, Sarajevo, known for its striking architecture and religious and cultural diversity, and Kosovo’s capital, Prishtina, a unique city with Ottoman influences and a strong international presence. You’ll meet with representatives from civil society organizations and academic institutions.

Highlights

  • Travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
  • Learn at three major Balkan universities and gain diverse perspectives.
  • Choose to do independent field research or an internship.
  • Meet with students and activists from universities and civil society organizations in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Prishtina and Belgrade.

Prerequisites

None

Excursions

Sarajevo

Discover Bosnia-Herzegovina from its vibrant capital, Sarajevo, offering a window into the country’s past and present. Learn about Islam in Bosnia and visit the well-preserved old quarter with its 16th-century Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque. You’ll explore the picturesque city of Banja Luka, the de facto capital of the Republic of Srpska, speak with representatives of the OSCE, visit Mostar’s iconic arched bridge or Srebrenica’s memorial, hike, and visit Jajce’s spectacular Pliva waterfalls.

Kosovo

One of Europe’s youngest countries, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. In Prishtina, hear different perspectives about the past and future of the Kosovo conflict in meetings with local officials. We will be hosted by the Gender Studies program at the University of Prishtina and experience the vibrancy of this newly established state with its cafe culture, lively pedestrian streets, and bold monuments. You may also visit an ancient monastery in Visoki Dečani and taste the local rakija produced by the monks.

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

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

The interdisciplinary coursework focuses on post-conflict and post-socialist transformation in the Balkans since the 1990s. Students examine changes in areas such as politics, civil society, identity, and social memory studies through participation in a variety of research and cultural activities, classroom discussions, and interactions with academics, activists, and host families. Students also take a language course in Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian. During the final month of the semester, students leverage their field study experience and research skills to complete an Independent Study Project, Independent Study Project or internship.

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

  • The 'making and breaking' of Yugoslavia
  • Peace and conflict studies: theory and practice in the Balkans
  • History, memory, conflict and post-conflict transformation
  • International intervention and state-building in the Balkans
  • Independence movements across Europe

The Breakup of Yugoslavia and the Wars of the 1990s

The Breakup of Yugoslavia and the Wars of the 1990s – syllabus
(PEAC3000 / 3 credits)

With the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, changes in Europe raised hopes for social change and a better future. As Eastern Europe entered its post-communist transition to democracy and open markets, socialist Yugoslavia began descending toward its dissolution. The breakup of Yugoslavia and the escalation of violent conflicts and wars in the region was a process that lasted for a number of years. This course will provide students with the historical context and background to the breakup of Yugoslavia. It will introduce students to the first kingdom of Yugoslavs, followed by the creation of the Socialist Federalist Republic of Yugoslavia after World War II. The course will discuss the debates among scholars on the reasons for the breakup of the country and will introduce students to a framework for understanding the conflicts of the 1990s, the rise of ethno-nationalism, and the transition from socialism that overlapped with processes of war and conflict. The course will also introduce students to the theoretical frameworks in peace and conflict studies so they can study the breakup of Yugoslavia and the new successor states that were created following its dissolution.

Peace and Conflict Studies in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo

Peace and Conflict Studies in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo – syllabus
(PEAC3005 / 3 credits)

After 1991, as Yugoslavia began to disintegrate, new states emerged alongside one another, each with its own new political structures, each facing a different set of challenges and realities. This course will focus on some of these changes and challenges in three of the successor states: Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo. In each of these cases, the course will examine the transition in the 1990s as related to the wars followed by an analysis of the post-Yugoslav, post-war challenges and ongoing changes and current developments. Throughout each of the case studies, students will focus on the following three main lenses of investigation: conflict transformation and transitional justice, memory studies, and international intervention.

Serbian

Serbian I – syllabus
(SERB1003 / 3 credits)

Serbian II – syllabus
(SERB2003 / 3 credits)

Serbian III – syllabus
(SERB3003 / 3 credits)

Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Students are also introduced to the Cyrillic script. Students are placed in beginning or intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing.

Research Methods and Ethics

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

The Research Methods seminar provides theoretical, conceptual, and practical tools for conducting field research in the Balkans. In particular, the course provides the means to identify and carry out an independent four-week, field-based research topic. Emphasis is placed on grappling with methodological and ethical challenges in learning and researching issues related to peace studies and conflict studies in this part of the world. The seminar prepares students to record, interpret, and analyze information from primary sources, developing students’ awareness of cultural differences and their own positionality.

Course Options

Choose between the following two courses:

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

The Independent Study Project is conducted in an approved location appropriate to the project in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, or Kosovo. Sample topic areas: feminist approaches to dealing with the past in post-Milosevic Serbia; Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina; language, religion, and politics in the Republika Srpska; Muslim identity of Albanians in Kosovo; Roma narratives of continuous discrimination and perspectives on identity, marginalization, and assimilation in Serbia; the influence of displacement on the identities of Sarajevo’s young returnees, LGBTQ activism in Serbia and Bosnia.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Solidarity and activism with migrants and refugees on the Balkan route
  • Transitional justice and education for peace in the Western Balkans
  • Local youth perceptions of the Russian soft power in Republika Srpska, Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Integration of Serbia and Kosovo in the European Union
  • Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina and/or in Kosovo
  • Human rights and LGBTQI activism in Serbia and/or Bosnia-Herzegovina and/or Kosovo
  • Street art and street activism in Belgrade
  • “Yugonostalgia” in Belgrade and/or Sarajevo
  • Kosovo-Serbia relations and analysis of youth encounters through art projects

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

OR

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

This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. A focus will be on linking internship learning with the program’s critical global issue focus and overall program theme.

Sample internships:

  • Helping refugees on the Balkans route at Asylum Protection Center
  • Building connections between young people across the Balkans at Youth Initiative for Human Rights
  • Supporting journalists in the region through the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network
  • Digitalizing historical archives at the Museum of Yugoslav History
  • Helping beneficiaries at NGO Atina, supporting anti-trafficking of human beings

Homestays

Belgrade

You’ll live with a host family in Belgrade for seven weeks. If you choose to pursue an independent project or internship in the city, you may be able to extend your stay for an additional four weeks. Living with a local family is a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the people, realities, and challenges facing the Balkans today. While offering an excellent opportunity to improve your language skills, the homestay experience will add warmth and create lasting bonds beyond the program.

Some homestay families have always lived in Belgrade while others may have relocated to the city from other parts of the former Yugoslavia. Family is very important and there’s a good chance you’ll  meet your hosts’ extended families in other parts of Serbia. In Belgrade, your family will also be a great source of information about local places, such as the best kafanas, informal neighborhood bistros where you can meet new friends, sample traditional Serbian dishes, and enjoy folk music.

Other Accommodations

Bed and breakfast or small hotels

Career Paths

Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Fulbright research scholar in Serbia or Kosovo

  • Fulbright scholar teaching English in Serbia or Kosovo

  • Global networks program manager at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, New York, NY

  • Senior program assistant at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Washington, DC

  • Leading team member with International NGOs assisting migrants on the Balkan route

Faculty & Staff

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

Orli Fridman, PhD
Academic Director
Branislava Djonin, MA
Homestay Coordinator
Nenad Porobic, MSEE
Program Coordinator
Stevan Tatalovic, MA
Internship Coordinator
Aleksandar Skundric
Program Assistant
Ana Begovic, MA
Language Instructor

Discover the Possibilities

  • COST & SCHOLARSHIPS

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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  • ACCESSIBILITY

    Prepare for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Aborad! In-country conditions and resources vary by site. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact disabilityservices@sit.edu for more information.

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    SIT Balkans program is an academic semester in Peace & Conflict Studies. Students can choose between Research, Journalism or Internship Tracks

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  • Researching Balkans

    Researching Balkans is produced by students from this program and strives to be a platform for students’ writings about the Balkans, their experiences studying aboard with SIT in the Balkans, and conducting research during their independent study month.

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  • Come together: how music is rebuilding bridges in divided Balkans

    SIT Balkans journalism track student Gillian Dohrn writes a feature for The Guardian.

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