Examine peacebuilding, post-conflict transformation, and the impact of international intervention and political transitions on state building, human rights, and transitional justice in Southeast Europe.
Discover Belgrade, Serbia’s cultural, political, and economic center.
The program is based in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade. With vestiges of its previous socialist state, this former capital of Yugoslavia remains the largest metropolitan city in southeast Europe and is home to numerous activist groups and civil society organizations. A vibrant and dynamic city, Belgrade is very important to the study of transition and change in the Balkans in the last decades. While in Belgrade, you will live with a host family and attend classes at the Faculty of Media and Communications at Singidunum University. You will have the chance to explore the city’s cultural centers, museums, and markets while uncovering its socialist past and experiencing the vibrant pace of everyday life today.
Choose between two tracks: independent field research or internship.
The internship will allow you to gain work experience and professional and intercultural skills at a local organization. The independent research option lets you delve into an issue affecting the region and conduct field research. Past students have leveraged their research to get fellowships or have developed it in graduate studies.
Compare post-war change in three countries.
To get a comparative look at three countries’ processes of post-conflict transformation, you’ll spend extensive time in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo as well as the program’s base in Serbia. You will experience Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo—a city famous for its beautiful architecture and religious and cultural diversity—and Kosovo’s capital, Prishtina—a unique city with Ottoman influences and a current international presence.
You will engage with academics from institutions such as the University of Belgrade and Singidunum University’s Faculty of Media and Communications in Serbia, the University of Prishtina in Kosovo, and the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. You’ll meet with representatives from leading NGOs in the Balkans such as the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, the Humanitarian Law Center, and the International Commission on Missing Persons. The program also provides a comparative look at ongoing international conflicts. You can do your independent project or internship in any of the three countries.
Examine the breakup of Yugoslavia, the violent wars of the 1990s, and current challenges and opportunities in post-conflict transformation.
Visit groups working to make the transition from conflict to new state, and hear diverse perspectives on the challenges they face.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- The “making and breaking” of Yugoslavia
- Peace and conflict studies: theory and practice in the Balkans
- Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo in the 1990s: international sanctions, the 1999 NATO bombing, the Dayton Agreement
- History, memory, conflict, and post-conflict transformation in Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo
- International intervention and state building in the Balkans and independence movements across Europe
- Democratization processes, EU enlargement, media pluralism, and media freedom
- Populism and stability
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
The program incorporates extended educational excursions to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. You will discover the ongoing efforts of various groups working to make the transition from conflict to new state-building processes and hear diverse perspectives on current realities and challenges.
As a result of the 1995 Dayton Agreement, Bosnia was divided into two political entities: the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. You will encounter different perspectives of the past and visions for the country’s future.
During this excursion, you will focus on topics such as Islam in Bosnia, the role of memorials and commemorative events in post-conflict transformation, the role of the international community in Bosnia through meetings with representatives of the OSCE Mission or other international organizations, and EU accession. Additionally, you will be introduced to post-Dayton realities and challenges and visit both Banja Luka and Sarajevo and have the chance to meet with young students from the University of Banja Luka and young activists from Sarajevo.
During this period, you also may visit Mostar, famous for its ancient bridge reconstructed in 2004, following its destruction in the last war. Alternatively, you may visit the memorial site to victims of Srebrenica. You may also enjoy the natural beauty of Bosnia-Herzegovina via a short hike to the Jajce waterfalls.
Kosovo declared unilateral independence in 2008, unrecognized by Serbia. During this excursion, you will visit Kosovo’s capital Prishtina and be exposed to the different realities and points of view regarding the present and future of the frozen conflict in Kosovo. You will witness the change of power relations in Kosovo, critically discuss issues relating to international intervention and the current presence of the international community in Kosovo, and experience firsthand the vibrancy and energy of a newly independent state.
During this excursion, you will be hosted at the gender studies program at the University of Prishtina. Presentations by local organizations may focus on Albanian perspectives in the war in Kosovo, the role of memory and myths in the process of state building, and the role of the international community and organizations such as the UN and OSCE. You may visit the ancient monastery in Visoki Dečani / Deçan and taste the local rakija produced by the monks. Finally, you may explore the position of independent media in Kosovo and visit organizations such as Kosovo 2.0 and/or Balkan Insight.
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 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.
The Breakup of Yugoslavia and the Wars of the 1990s – syllabus
(PEAC3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
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 – syllabus
(PEAC3005 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
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 I – syllabus
(SERB1003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Serbian II – syllabus
(SERB2003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Serbian III – syllabus
(SERB3003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
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 – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
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.
Choose between the following two courses:
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
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.
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
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.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Orli Fridman, PhD, Academic Director
Orli received her PhD at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (2006). She also 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 focuses on peace and memory studies with emphasis on comparative conflict studies. She has been writing extensively about memory politics and memory activism in Serbia and the successor states of the former Yugoslavia and in the Middle East.
Orli has been involved in political education for the past 20 years. She was trained as a facilitator for groups in conflict and facilitated group encounters from Israel/Palestine, Cyprus, and the successor states of the former Yugoslavia. She teaches in the Politics Department at the Faculty of Media and Communications, where she heads the Center for Comparative Conflict Studies, 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 “‘Too Young to Remember Determined Not to Forget’: Memory Activists Engaging With Returning ICTY Convicts” was in International Criminal Justice Review.
Nenad Porobic, MSEE, Program Coordinator
Nenad was born in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He has lived in Zadar, Croatia; Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; and Belgrade, Serbia. He participated in a World Learning exchange program in 1995 and then completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Arkansas. In 2006, he returned to Belgrade, where he has worked with the Center for Nonviolent Action, a regional peacebuilding organization, and Four Faces of Omarska, a research, production, and performance group. He is a member of the informal collective “NO to Rehabilitation!” and a contributor to the web portal Mašina. Nenad assists in administering the program, accompanies students on excursions, and supports the program in Belgrade.
Aleksandar Skundric, Program Assistant
Aleksandar was born in Belgrade, Serbia. Since 2004, he has worked on projects and attended trainings with human rights and minority rights organizations from Serbia and abroad. In 2007, he did a fellowship program in New York with the United Nations Population Fund. In 2010, he worked with a team on a research proposal, “Gender Equality and Culture of the Citizens Status: Historical and Theoretical Foundations in Serbia” for the Faculty of Political Science, Belgrade. Aleksandar holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and media studies from the Faculty of Media and Communication, Singidunum University. He has been a program assistant with SIT Balkans since 2013.
Jelena Nikolic, MA, Homestay Coordinator
Jelena Nikolic holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and media and a master’s degree in conflict studies, both from the Faculty of Media and Communications in Belgrade, Singidunum University. She returned to Belgrade in 2008 after spending nine years in Greece. Jelena has taught and translated Greek since 2013. Her primary interests are conflict studies and dealing with the past.
Stevan Tatalovic, MA, Internship Coordinator
Stevan holds a master’s in security studies from the University of Belgrade. He is currently working as an information officer at the Info Park Project, a Belgrade-based organization assisting refugees and migrants on the Balkan route. Before joining Info Park, Stevan worked as a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Security Studies and as a research coordinator at the Human Security Research Center. He also participated in a number of research projects related to migration and the situation of refugees in Serbia at the United Nations Development Programme and has several years of experience working on different NGO and government projects related to human rights.
Milica Vukovic, MA, Language Instructor
Milica holds an MA in comparative literature from University College London and an MA and a BA in Serbian literature and language with general literature from University of Belgrade. Prior to joining SIT, she spent four years in London teaching Serbian to adults and children. Her academic interests include second language acquisition and code-switching.
Lejla Mamut, MA, Local Coordinator, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lejla was born in Macedonia and moved to Sarajevo in 2006. She is a conflict-related sexual violence coordinator at UN Women. She spent five years as a human rights coordinator for TRIAL: Track Impunity Always. Lejla’s experience includes research on casualties and other aspects of the 1992–1995 war and work on transitional justice. She holds an MA in democracy and human rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna joint program. Her thesis was selected as one of the top five in her class.
Yll Buleshkaj, MA, Local Coordinator, Prishtina, Kosovo
Yll was born in Kosovo. He has a master’s degree from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna joint program in democratization and human rights and a BA in political science and public administration from the University of Prishtina. He is pursuing a second master’s at the University of Prishtina. Until recently, he was a program officer at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He has managed projects dealing with political parties, women in politics, parliamentary groups, media development, and legislative reform and has worked for national and international organizations.
The homestay experience was the cornerstone of the Balkans program.
The homestay experience was the cornerstone of the Balkans program. Every day after classes, I would come home to excited kids, a fresh meal, and a unique and intimate window into the life of my family. Aside from the wonderful relationships I built, the homestay also allowed me to merge my academic and personal life. On a typical day, I would exchange conversations with my Serbian host grandmother through an illustrated children’s dictionary, broaching topics from politics to religion, cooking to house pets. These moments when my family and I struggled together in conversation gave me opportunities I would not have had on another program.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will live with a host family in Belgrade for seven weeks. If you pursue an independent project or internship in Belgrade, you may be able to extend your stay by four weeks. In Belgrade, you will live with local families and may meet your hosts’ extended families in other parts of Serbia. Some homestay families have always lived in Belgrade while others have relocated to the city from other parts of the former Yugoslavia. Living with a host family greatly contributes to your understanding of the realities and challenges facing the Balkans today and provides an excellent opportunity to improve your language skills.
Other accommodations during the program could include bed and breakfasts or small hotels.
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You can choose to spend the final four weeks of the program on an Independent Study Project (ISP) in Serbia, Bosnia, or Kosovo. Prior to this period, you will take the Research Methods and Ethics course, through which you will learn a variety of methodologies that will prepare you to undertake primary research on critical issues and topics relating to peace and conflict studies. You will develop research skills and approaches that are used for the Independent Study Project. The specific focus of the course is on the ethical concerns related to conducting research in post-conflict societies.
Building on the foundation of that course as well as the language and thematic courses and with guidance from the academic director and an advisor, you’ll do field research and produce an academic paper. Students frequently use their ISPs as a jumping-off point for more advanced research for their senior thesis, Fulbright and Rhodes scholarship applications, or graduate school work.
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
You can choose to do an internship. SIT internships are hands-on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, you will submit a paper processing your learning experience on the job and analyzing an issue important to the organization you worked with, and/or you will design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization.
- 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
Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:
- Fulbright scholar examining politics, pedagogies, and perspectives on Kosovo-Serbia exchange programming, Kosovo
- Fulbright scholar teaching English in Serbia
- Global networks program manager at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, New York, NY
- Senior program assistant at the National Democratic Institute, Washington, DC
This information is provided to assist you in identifying possible accessibility barriers and preparing for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Abroad. You should be aware that, while in-country conditions and resources vary by site, every effort is made to work collaboratively with qualified individuals to facilitate disability-related accommodation. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact SIT Disability Services at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information related to access abroad and to discuss possible accommodations.
During the coursework phase of the program, you will generally be in class five to six days per week for three to five hours per day. You will be provided with short breaks between classes, with a longer break for lunch. Student learning is typically assessed through take-home assignments, in-class assignments, written assignments/exams, oral presentations/exams, individual assignments, group assignments, and in-class quizzes/exams. Course readings and in-class materials are typically available in printed and digital formats.
Students with questions about alternate format materials, testing accommodations, or other academic accommodations are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.
The SIT program office is accessed by a ramp with an automatic door opener. The exterior entrance, doorways, and hallways/pathways are at least 32 in. (82 cm.) wide. The building has an accessible elevator. The restroom has stalls wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. The program does not have a student lounge.
The program incorporates multi-day, educational excursions to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. You can expect to be outside for long periods of time, traveling to and from class by public transportation and participating in walking tours. Therefore, you are advised to bring comfortable, waterproof walking shoes. You are expected to carry all your luggage significant distances on your own. Program excursions may vary in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities.
Each program’s homestay coordinator is responsible for placing students in homestays. These placements are made based on health concerns and needs. The physical accessibility of homestay options is currently limited for this program. Homestays offer regular access to Wi-Fi, cellular service, electricity to charge devices, and refrigerators to store medication. On excursions to Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, you will stay in hostels or small hotels. Students with questions about homestay accessibility are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.
Balkan food typically consists of meat, potatoes, soups, salad, and fish. Open-air markets offer fresh vegetables and fruit. SIT Study Abroad works with students, program staff, homestay families, home colleges and universities, and others to accommodate student dietary needs whenever possible. For more information on dietary needs and dietary preferences, please review the Student Support section of the Student Health, Safety, and Support web page.
In Belgrade, the most common modes of transportation are buses, trolley buses, and trams. Taxis are also widely available and relatively inexpensive. Most students commute about 30 to 50 minutes a day between their primary homestay, classes, and/or placement sites. The general routes of travel in Belgrade and Serbia vary. Some sidewalks have curb cuts, and some traffic lights have auditory signals. Buses and taxis are used for program excursions. Buses are not equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps, however they do have room for standing or stretching.
You are required to bring your own laptop computer, handheld voice recorder, adapters, and assistive technology. Insuring all personal electronics against loss or theft is recommended. The SIT program center has internet access during posted hours along with a communal computer for word processing and a scanner. Internet cafés are conveniently located in cities with some places offering free Wi-Fi.
Students with questions about assistive technology, note-taking accommodations, or other academic accommodations are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.
Medical care can be found in the major cities of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo; however, equipment may differ from Western standards. Medicine and basic medical supplies are available at private pharmacies. Persons with mental health conditions may not be able to locate English-speaking mental health providers. Medical care expenses are paid up front. Payment for medical services is covered by your health insurance if the provider is notified prior to or during the medical service.
Once admitted, you are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns about accessing health services or medication while abroad during the health review process. Read more about the health review process and the Summary of Benefits for student health insurance.
Requesting Disability-Related Accommodations
To request disability-related accommodations once admitted, you should contact the Office of Disability Services. For more information about the accommodation process, documentation guidelines and a link to the accommodation request form, please visit the Office of Disability Services website.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Disability Services at email@example.com or 802 258-3390 as early as possible for information and support.
Additional Support Resources
MIUSA (Mobility International USA) is a cross-disability organization serving those with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision, and other disabilities. It offers numerous resources for persons with disabilities who wish to study abroad and/or engage in international development opportunities.
Abroad with Disabilities (AWD) is a Michigan nonprofit organization founded in 2015 with the goal of promoting the belief that persons with disabilities can and should go abroad. AWD works diligently to empower clients to pursue study, work, volunteer, and/or internship opportunities outside of the United States by creating dialogue, sharing resources, and spreading awareness.
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and 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.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- The breakup of Yugoslavia
- Serbia in the 1990s: international sanctions and the NATO bombing
- Serbia after Milosevic
- Bosnia-Herzegovina after Dayton
- Kosovo: a look from Serbia and from Kosovo
- Peace and conflict: theory and practice in the Balkans
- Research Methods and Ethics and Human Subjects Review
- Intensive language instruction in Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian
- All educational excursions to locations such as Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project, Independent Study Project in Journalism, or internship (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $4,892
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation; in the program base (Belgrade); on all excursions; during the Independent Study Project, Independent Study Project in Journalism, or internship; and during the final evaluation period.
- Homestay (seven weeks in Belgrade)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
Airfare to Program Site
Airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $250
Books & Supplies: $ 70
International Phone: Each student must bring a smart phone that is able to accept a local SIM card with them to their program, or they must purchase a smart phone locally.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.
In order to make study abroad more accessible, SIT's partner colleges and universities may charge home school tuition fees for their students participating on an SIT Study Abroad program. If your institution has an agreement with SIT and charges fees different from those assessed by SIT, please contact your study abroad advisor for more details. The SIT published price is the cost to direct enroll in the SIT program. Tuition fees may vary for students based on your home college's or university's billing policies with SIT.