Examine the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and that country’s efforts to foster peace, unity, and reconciliation. Travel to northern Uganda to experience everyday life in this post-conflict region, and learn how collective strategies of remembrance are being used to counteract genocide denial.
Study the root causes of the Rwandan genocide and the civil war in northern Uganda.
Visit genocide memorials, museums, a refugee settlement, and commissions working toward reconciliation to examine the social, human, psychological, and economic impacts of genocide; the challenges and opportunities of post-conflict restoration in Rwanda; and the very different post-conflict reconciliation process in northern Uganda.
Learn about economic reconstruction from professionals working in peacebuilding, transitional justice, and development.
Attend lectures by academics and visit NGOs, civil society organizations, and communities affected by conflict.
Study the Kinyarwanda language.
Intensive classroom instruction in Rwanda’s national language is complemented by experiential sessions on shopping, dining out, and Rwandan cooking and music. A basic knowledge of Kinyarwanda is important for understanding Rwandan culture and will help you conduct field research for your Independent Study Project.
Spend time in Murchison Falls National Park.
One of Uganda’s primary conservation areas, this is where the Nile cascades through a narrow gorge to become a river populated with hippos and crocodiles, waterbucks, and buffalo. The vegetation is savannah, riverine forest, and woodland. Wildlife includes lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, oribis, Uganda kobs, chimpanzees, and many bird species.
Examine healing programs for genocide survivors in Rwanda and victims of displacement in northern Uganda.
During a two-week excursion to Uganda you will compare the issues related to the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda to the ones that led to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Visit communities working to reconcile and rebuild, and experience everyday life in this post-conflict region.
Learn the fundamentals of research tools and the ethics of doing research in a post-conflict environment.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Peace | Human Rights | Social Movements
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.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- Rwandan history and culture and the origins of conflict, ethnicity, and genocidal outbreak in Rwanda
- The institutional and collective strategies of remembrance and strategies to fight genocide denial
- The social and psychological impact of genocide on survivors and their descendants
- National and international involvement in genocide prevention and peacebuilding and the interrelations between peace, justice, reconciliation, and forgiveness
- Refugees and displaced people in post-conflict environments
- Post-genocide economic development
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.
- Anatomy of Genocide and Intra-State Conflict – syllabus
- (AFRS3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- 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 – syllabus
- (PEAC3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- 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 – syllabus
- (KINY1003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- 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 – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- 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.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:
- Independent Study Project – syllabus
- (ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- 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.
- Internship and Seminar – syllabus
- (ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- 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.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
- Murambi Genocide Memorial, a technical school where more than 50,000 Tutsi were killed
- Gisozi Genocide Memorial and Information Center, an informative memorial site with a mass grave outside, a peace garden for reflection, and a comprehensive exhibit on the Rwandan genocide and other genocides of the 20th century
- Travail d’Intérêt Général, a work camp where convicted genocide perpetrators carry out community work.
- A women’s association near Butare, where victims of the genocide whose husbands were killed work together with women whose husbands are in prison for committing genocide
- Nyamata and Ntarama Genocide Memorials, two churches in the vicinity of Kigali, where mass killings took place
- Millennium Village, where you will visit with cassava farmers and basket weavers, see cultural dances, and taste local food
- Habyarimana’s Residence, the home of the former Rwandan president whose plane was shot down in 1994, killing all aboard and sparking the Rwandan genocide
During a two-week excursion to northern Uganda, you will hear lectures by Ugandan academics, visit NGOs and civil society organizations, visit a former internally displaced persons camp, and experience everyday life in this post-conflict region.
Sites typically include:
- Gulu Concerned Parents Association, a group of parents whose daughters have been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and who provide emotional, psychological, and economic support to families affected by conflict
- Invisible Children, Uganda, founded in 2004 to bring awareness to the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda and Central Africa and its leader, Joseph Kony
- Justice and Reconciliation Project in Gulu, whose mission is to empower conflict-affected communities to participate in processes of justice, healing, and reconciliation
- Kitgum Straight Talk Foundation, devoted to educating adolescents on reproductive health issues, life skills, and sexuality, where you will visit the people of the nearby camp for internally displaced people in Orom, talk to youth leaders and community members, and practice interview skills
- Baker’s Fort, a former slave-trading site captured by Sir Samuel Baker, who established a garrison to fight slavery from 1872 to 1888
- Nakivale Refugee Camp housing Rwandese, Somali, Sudanese, and Congolese refugees in western Uganda
- Murchison Falls National Park, where you can spot wildlife on an early morning game drive and take a boat trip up the Nile to see a beautiful view of a stunning waterfall
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Celine Mukamurenzi, Academic Director
A Rwandan citizen, Celine joined SIT Study Abroad in 2013. Before that, she worked with the Rwanda Peace Academy, a regional center of excellence in the fields of training and research related to post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding and has participated in various research projects—most related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide and its effects. She counts among her greatest passions working in a multicultural learning environment.
Celine holds a BA in social work from the National University of Rwanda and an MA in peace education from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. She worked as project manager with the Association for Development and Social Transformation, a local civil society organization engaged in training for social transformation in Rwanda. In 2010, Celine was awarded a fellowship within the University for Peace Great Lakes Program, with emphasis on curriculum design, where she developed “Education for Social Transformation” and “Gender and Peacebuilding.”
She has worked as a consultant for curriculum design with the National University of Rwanda’s Center for Conflict Management. Among her publications is her 2012 book entitled Towards the Understanding of Social Transformation Process – Special Focus on Rwandan Context.
Mercy Atuhurira, Program and Student Services Coordinator
Mercy attended Makerere University and received a BA in social sciences with a concentration in sociology. Her passion in student affairs developed at Makerere University, where she was very involved on campus, including with the residence hall association, and with the local radio station where she hosted a youth program. Mercy’s professional experience includes working with orphans and disadvantaged youth. Prior to SIT, she worked with Aegis Rwanda on a summer course for Rwandan youth on violence prevention.
Sunday Nzitatira, Office Manager
Sunday oversees all office administration, financial systems, policies and procedures, and general operations for this program. He is a trained business administration and project management specialist who brings strong interpersonal skills and innovative business acumen to his work with SIT. His professional experience includes working with community-based organizations and NGOs in Rwanda. Sunday is fluent in Kinyarwanda, French, and English.
Apollon Kabahizi, Compliance Coordinator
Apollon is a Rwandan and Belgian national and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. Inspired by his personal and professional experiences, Apollon is committed to a historically accurate and sensitive memorialization of Rwanda’s recent history. He was instrumental in setting up this SIT program in Rwanda.
Apollon has a background in arts, graphic design, and advertising. As Rwanda country coordinator for Aegis Trust in 2002–2003, Apollon spearheaded the concept, design, and construction of both the Kigali Memorial Centre and the Murambi Genocide Prevention Centre. He later served as Aegis Trust’s Rwanda country manager, managing the Kigali Memorial Centre and fundraising for Aegis Trust projects. Prior to this, he worked for University College of London’s Development Planning Unit and taught genocide prevention at the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in the United Kingdom. Apollon is founder of Survivors Funds UK, where he served as trustee and member of the organization’s management committee. He also worked as a consultant with the Campaign Against Genocide for the Rwandan Parliament; as a fundraiser with the Austria Development Agency Gacaca documentation project; and as a coordinator with Human Remains Preservation, a joint project between Cranfield University and the Rwandan government.
Denis Bikesha, Homestay Coordinator
Denis received a law degree in 2004 from National University of Rwanda. From 2004 to 2012 he worked as a lawyer for the National Service of Gacaca Courts, which deals with cases related to the Rwandan genocide. In 2007, he became the National Service director of training, mobilization, and sensitization. Denis has organized training sessions and seminars on unity and reconciliation in Rwanda and abroad, has attended transitional justice and peacebuilding training, and has spent time studying the US judicial system. He has worked with SIT Study Abroad since 2005 as homestay coordinator for this program and as a lecturer for summer and semester Rwanda programs. He is completing a PhD at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Jean Pierre Bisangwa, Language Teacher
Jean Pierre obtained a BA in management from Free University of Kigali in 2007. He has been teaching SIT students since fall 2009 and also works with a variety of expatriate clients in Kigali. His teaching career began in 1996, when he was trained by a US de-mining group who came to Rwanda to train soldiers. Jean Pierre has been a teacher of Kinyarwanda at the International Language School in Kigali since 2004. He also teaches English to Rwandan university students at the Independent Institute of Lay Adventists of Kigali and was a translator for English and Kinyarwanda for Swedish missionaries from 2004 to 2007.
Bosco Habyarimana, MA, Lecturer on Peace Education
Bosco is an assistant researcher and lecturer at the Center for Conflict Management at the National University of Rwanda, where he lectures on conflict transformation and civic and peace education. He received his MA in peace education from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. After obtaining his BEd in language teaching, Bosco worked for two years as a teacher of English and head of teaching staff. In 2006, he joined the National University of Rwanda as a tutorial assistant in the School of Foundation Language Schools, where he was in charge of teaching English to students ready to commence their university courses.
Frank Nabwiso, PhD, Lecturer on Post-Conflict Transformation and Government Initiatives towards Peace in Uganda
Frank is an expert on adult education and rural development. He received his PhD in adult education and rural development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976; an MA in African studies from the University of Sussex, England, in 1968; and a BA in history and political science from the University of East Africa, then Makerere University College, in 1967. His teaching experience includes part-time lecturer at Kyambogo University, teaching associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, head of the Correspondence and Mass Media Department at Makerere University, and resident tutor at Makerere University.
Paul Rutayisire, PhD, Lecturer on the Rwandan Patriotic Front War, the Arusha Peace Agreement, and the 1994 Rwandan Genocide
A Rwandan national, Paul holds a PhD in history from Fribourg University in Switzerland. He lectures at the National University of Rwanda and is director of the university’s Center for Conflict Management. His focus areas are religion and society as well as conflict transformation and genocide studies. He has published extensively on Rwandan history and has participated in many crucial research projects on topics related to the post-genocide reconstruction of Rwanda.
Bernard Noel Rutikanga, PhD Candidate, Lecturer for Identity Politics and Political Developments Pre-Genocide
Bernard obtained a BA and an MA degree from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, between 1976 and 1980. He is completing his PhD at University College of Dublin. He taught for 10 years at Dar es salaam Teachers College before directing a Namibian and South African refugee scholarship program in Tanzania for five years. Bernard has been teaching contemporary Rwandan history at the National University of Rwanda since 1995. He has published on reconciliation and ethnicity in Rwanda. He has also served as a gacaca judge (the traditional jurisdiction system that has been trying genocide related crimes committed in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994). In 2000, he was a Fulbright scholar at Boston College in Massachusetts.
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.
Living for six weeks with a host family in Kigali will help you become immersed in local social and cultural dynamics and give you an inside perspective of life in post-genocide Rwanda. Students often observe and learn from Rwandans’ processes of remembering and forgetting, their strategies of overcoming genocide ideology, and their work towards unity and reconciliation. The homestay is also an important setting to improve Kinyarwanda language skills.
Host families are usually middle class and live throughout Kigali. Host parents work in a variety of professions, including as small business owners, government employees, accountants, lawyers, and doctors. Rwandan families often include many children and other relatives. Some families live in large, single and self-contained houses with a fenced garden, while others have smaller homes with outdoor bathrooms and cooking facilities. Soccer and church are important to many Rwandan families. You will typically take public transportation to class, which provides you with a good sense of direction and orientation within the city as well as better insight into the local culture.
Kigali is a medium-sized, modern city that shows clear signs of a 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 that provide breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding valleys. The city is home to commissions, organizations, and government bodies, as well as a major genocide memorial and information center.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels, guest houses, or small hotels.
My SIT experience provided me with the foundation to continue expanding my work in forced migration and refugee affairs
My SIT experience provided me with the foundation to continue expanding my work in forced migration and refugee affairs, and I feel very honored to continue my research as a Fulbright U.S. Student fellow in Uganda.
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
Your Independent Study Project (ISP) gives you an opportunity to explore in depth a topic, community, or situation related to post-conflict transformation that particularly interests you. The ISP is conducted in consultation with the program’s academic director, lecturers, and practitioners. During the research and writing of your project, you may also receive guidance from researchers and experts at the National University of Rwanda, the Commission for Unity and Reconciliation, the Center for Conflict Management, or other institutions related to genocide studies.
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
Alum presents research at 2016 Human Development Conference at Notre Dame.
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.
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:
- Sociopolitical history and the origins of conflict in Rwanda
- Post-genocide restoration, peacebuilding, and conflict prevention
- Transitional justice
- Post-conflict transformation in northern Uganda
- Research Methods and Ethics seminar in preparations for the Independent Study Project
- Intensive Kinyarwanda language instruction
- All educational excursions to locations such as Gulu, Uganda, and Butare, Rwanda, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $2,780
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Kigali), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- Homestay (six weeks in Kigali)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International 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: $ 30
Books & Supplies: $150
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
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.