Examine the root causes of conflict and genocide and measures to foster resettlement and reconciliation in Rwanda and Uganda.
Explore the social, political, and psychosocial processes that precipitated genocide in Rwanda and the emergence of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.
Examine the history, contemporary politics, and role of the state in the formation and mitigation of each conflict. More than that, consider how these cases can inform our understanding of conflict causation and mitigation in Africa and elsewhere.
Move beyond conventional rhetoric about the 1994 Rwandan genocide to better understand causes, consequences, and current prospects for peace.
The Rwandan genocide resulted in the deaths of nearly 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a span of 100 days. The intensity of the violence and the extent to which survivors and perpetrators live side by side today provide a unique case study on genocide causation, prevention, and mitigation. Consider explanations for the genocide and what they illuminate about the possibilities and limitations of human nature, global institutions of governance such as the United Nations, and the contemporary modern state.
Examine Ugandan efforts to confront political, economic and social effects of conflict within the framework of modern and traditional cultures.
The war in northern Uganda ended in 2007 with the signing of the Juba Peace Accords. However, the war intensified the north-south divide, and the country still grapples with political, economic, and social effects of the war. The Acholi people’s efforts to rebuild their lives have been complicated by inadequate access to resources and uncoordinated projects. You will consider how global policies, multinational interests, international and national forces, and tensions between local traditions and modernity shape—or threaten—reconciliation and recovery efforts.
Visit field sites and communities in urban and rural areas of Uganda and Rwanda, including refugee settlements in Uganda and genocide memorials in Rwanda, and witness ongoing resettlement and reconciliation efforts in the Lake Victoria Basin region.
Meet with leaders of civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations working in conflict mitigation, resolution, and prevention and learn what they’re doing.
Critically analyze measures that have been put in place to prevent conflict and mitigate its impact.
Examine reconciliation models in each country and what facilitates and hinders their success and consider the roles of ordinary citizens, government, and international actors in these efforts. Discuss the potential for sustainable peace in the region.
Experience cultural events and daily activities as you live for two weeks each with families in Rwanda and Uganda.
Go on a safari in Murchison Falls National Park.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Peace | Human Rights | Social Movements
While there are no course prerequisites for the program, psychological stability and emotional maturity are required to enable students to engage effectively with these difficult subjects.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- The history, contemporary politics, and role of the state in each conflict
- A theoretical framework and historical context in which to situate the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the emergence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Acholi region of Uganda
- Measures that prevent and mitigate conflict
Lectures and discussions with professors and professionals working in the fields of conflict resolution, mitigation, and prevention provide both a theoretical framework and a historical context in which to situate the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Acholi region of Uganda and the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
First in Rwanda and then Uganda, one week of classroom discussions, readings, and lectures addresses the history, contemporary politics, and role of the state in each conflict. Students then visit carefully selected sites to study the issues firsthand and to observe the current climate. Cultural immersion and interactions with homestay families complement these studies.
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.
- Peace and Conflict Seminar – syllabus
- (PEAC3000 / 6 credits / 90 hours)
- The course examines the historical, political, and social dimensions of the conflicts in the Lake Victoria Basin with a focus on northern Uganda and Rwanda. Major topics include the sources and root causes of conflict, political and social aspects of the genocide, migration and refugee issues, the UN Tribunal, and the Gacaca court system in Rwanda.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Rwanda Genocide Memorial
At the site of mass burial of the 250,000 victims of Kigali’s genocide, the Kigali Memorial Centre is a place for reflection and learning. Through exhibitions, videos, clippings, and quotes, the memorial explores the history and origins of genocide, the genocide’s impacts, the post-genocide period, and ongoing reconciliation and peace efforts in ways that transcend textbook descriptions. Many visitors to the memorial cite this as a life-changing experience.
Ntarama and Nyamata
Churches in Ntarama and Nyamata were sites of mass executions during the Rwandan genocide. You will have a chance to talk with survivors and reflect on the personal impact of the violence. These visits put a human face on the horrific ordeal of genocide and can be emotionally challenging.
Rural Communities in Northern Uganda
You will go on carefully prepared visits to rural communities in northern Uganda to experience the dynamics of post-conflict resettlement and recovery, the opportunities and challenges that are encountered at multiple levels, and how these opportunities are forged and challenges are mitigated. You will examine interactions between the government, civil society, NGOs, and local communities.
Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Western Uganda
Originally a refugee camp for the victims of the 1959 Hutu revolution, Nakivale now hosts thousands of Rwandans displaced during and after the 1994 genocide. Here you will hear voices and perspectives that often are neglected in mainstream discourse. The visit prompts discussion as to what gets left out, and why, in conflict and post-conflict narratives.
Field visits in previous programs have included excursions to:
- National University of Rwanda at Huye (formerly Butare) to explore reconciliation concepts and processes with members of student clubs for unity and reconciliation
- A women’s association of wives of perpetrators of genocide and women survivors of genocide
- Select NGOs in Kigali, Rwanda, and Gulu, Uganda, such as the Justice and Reconciliation Project and Invisible Children
- Rural primary schools and government centers in Uganda to meet with local leaders
- Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda
- Millenium Project villages Musanze and Bugesera
- Buyengo Busia or Kasese in Uganda
- Sites where convicted perpetrators of genocide work on community service projects
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Charlotte Karungi Mafumbo, PhD, Academic Director
A Ugandan national, Charlotte obtained her PhD from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She also holds an MA in international studies from the University of Sydney, Australia; a postgraduate certificate in gender and conflict studies from Hannover University, Germany; a postgraduate diploma in social conditions and policies from Copenhagen University; and a BA in history and international organization from Makerere University in Kampala. She completed a fellowship as a 2012 Global South Scholar at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Her research investigates why states adopt interventionist foreign policies. She has analyzed Uganda's interventions in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
During the past decade, Charlotte has worked as a lecturer in history, development, peace and conflict studies, and program management at Makerere University. She has extensive experience in program management and has provided students with practicum and career guidance. She has strong relationships with government and nongovernmental agencies and academic institutions and rich perspectives on culture and development in Uganda. She first worked with SIT as a student advisor and became an academic director in 2007.
Mercy Atuhurira, Program and Student Services Coordinator
Mercy attended Makerere University and received a bachelor of arts in social sciences with a concentration in sociology. Her passion for student affairs developed during this time; she was very involved on campus with the residence hall association and 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 is a trained business administration and project management specialist who brings strong interpersonal skills and innovative business acumen to his work with SIT. He is fluent in Kinyarwanda, French, and English. During college, he focused on business administration and marketing; his professional experience is with community-based organizations and NGOs in Rwanda. As office manager with SIT, he oversees office administration, financial systems, policies and procedures, and general operations.
Denis Bikesha, PhD Candidate, Homestay Coordinator and Lecturer, Kigali
Denis received a law degree in 2004 from the Rwanda National University in Butare. He has worked with SIT since 2005 as a homestay coordinator and lecturer. Denis worked as a lawyer for the National Service of Gacaca Courts in Rwanda, which deals with cases related to the Rwandan genocide. In 2007, he became director of training, mobilization, and sensitization. He is pursuing his PhD at the University of Dar es Salaam. Denis has organized training sessions and seminars on unity and reconciliation in Rwanda and abroad. He has studied the U.S. judicial system and traveled to five states as an international visitor of the U.S. State Department.
Simon Oola, Program Assistant, Gulu
Simon is a graduate of Makerere University with a major in political science and a concentration in gender and development. He worked at the Parliament of Uganda under the International Republican Institute, which aims to develop political parties and democratization of Uganda. He has also worked as the program assistant at RICH Consult Uganda (Right to Improved Child Health) in Amuru and Nwoya districts, where he handled issues of sexual and reproductive health among young people affected by war. He was district field coordinator of CropLife Uganda in Nwoya District. His main areas of interest include economic livelihoods of people in northern Uganda, the elderly and most vulnerable, gender roles, equity, and transformation.
Lecturers for this program typically include:
Bosco Habyarimana, MA
Bosco is an assistant researcher and lecturer at the Center for Conflict Management at the National University of Rwanda. 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, he worked for two years as an English teacher and head of teaching staff. In 2006, he joined the National University of Rwanda as a tutorial assistant in the School for Foundation Language Skills, where he is in charge of teaching English to students.
Henry Kilama Komakech
Henry is a managing partner of Komakech-Kilama & Co. Advocates in Gulu, Uganda. He is pursuing a master’s degree in peace and conflict transformation studies at Gulu University. He has a postgraduate diploma in conflict management and peace studies from Gulu University and a postgraduate diploma in legal practice from the Law Development Centre in Kampala. He also holds a bachelor’s of law degree from Makerere University and accreditation as a mediator from Regent’s College London and Cardiff Law School. He trained at Cardiff Law School in negotiations, mediation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Kitara David Lagoro, MMed
Kitara is a lecturer at Gulu University in the Faculty of Medicine. He has a master of medicine (MMed) from Makerere University and holds a certificate in planning and management of health services from the Uganda Management Institute. He is a fellow of the Association of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa. Additionally, he holds a certificate in administrative law from the Law Development Centre and a postgraduate diploma in project planning and management from Gulu University.
Father John Felix Opio, PhD Candidate
Father Opio received an MA and a BA in philosophy from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi. He also holds a BA in theology from Urban University in Rome and a postgraduate diploma in teacher education from Makerere University. From 2004 to 08, he participated in peace and reconciliation activities in northern Uganda. He was active in the Juba peace talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan government. He served as executive director of Caritas Gulu Archdiocese and worked with a team of social workers during emergency and conflict situations. He is pursuing a PhD at Gulu University.
Paul Rutayisire, PhD
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. He specializes in religion and society, conflict transformation, and genocide studies. He has published extensively on Rwandan history and has participated in crucial research projects on topics related to the post-genocide reconstruction.
Bernard Noel Rutikanga, MA
Bernard obtained a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in contemporary African history from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He taught for 10 years at Dar es Salaam Teachers College before directing a Namibian and South African refugee scholarship program in Tanzania. Bernard has been teaching contemporary Rwandan history at the National University of Rwanda since 1995. He has published on reconciliation and ethnicity and served as a judge in the Gacaca courts (the traditional jurisdiction system for genocide-related crimes committed in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994). In 2000, he was a Fulbright Scholar at Boston College in Massachusetts.
This was a game-changing, paradigm-shifting experience—one of the best decisions I've ever made.
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.
This program includes two homestays, one in Kigali, Rwanda, and the other in Gulu, Uganda. Both are approximately two weeks depending on programming and national holidays. Living conditions and family size vary, which prompts comparative conversations among students. Orientation sessions at the beginning and during the program help you overcome and learn from the various cultural challenges you may encounter.
This homestay gives you the opportunity to study community relations, development efforts, local governance, and reconciliation from the perspectives of victims, perpetrators, returnees, and survivors. The homestay experience contributes greatly to the thematic seminar. Homestays are spread throughout Kigali and tend to be with middle-class families. While there may be exceptions, you may expect to have access to most modern amenities, including a TV, flush toilets, and showers. Homestay siblings are likely to be attending one of the modern schools in the city.
Kigali is a modern city where high-rise buildings are interspersed with shanty housing, reflecting great income inequality. Roads are generally well paved and well lit, traffic flows smoothly, and street signs have recently been set up. Plastic packaging is not allowed in Kigali, and you should not pack any plastic bags with your luggage. You will travel to and from school on public transportation. During class days, you should expect to have your meals at local restaurants in town and close to the SIT office. On weekends, you are encouraged to have your meals at home, depending on the plans you make with your homestay family.
The second homestay takes place in Gulu, the urban heartland of the Acholi region. During this homestay, you will explore the Ugandan family structure and how it fits into conflict mitigation. You will also learn about Ugandans’ perceptions of conflict and its causes. You will have formal program activities during the week but will spend weekends with your family. You may be invited to participate in cultural events, household chores, and other activities.
Gulu is a bustling northern Ugandan hub with a sizable NGO/expat community, banks, restaurants and hotels, street food, and roadside and evening markets. The town has a mix of rural and urban characteristics; hence, you may live in a home that has modern amenities such as a flush toilet, indoor shower, and cable TV, or you may live in a home that does not have these amenities. Family size also varies but is typically large. Gulu does not have public transportation, so you should expect to get to and from your homestay on foot.
During the week, you will have about half of your lunches served at the office and the other half at local restaurants in Gulu town. On weekends, you may have your meals at the homestay depending on plans you make with your homestay family.
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 instruct students in
- The historical, political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of conflicts in the Lake Victoria Basin
- Concepts of justice and reconciliation, and their application both locally and internationally
- Social, cultural, and political aspects of the region
- All educational excursions to locations such as the Nakivale Refugee Settlement, the Rwanda Genocide Memorial, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, the Gacaca court system, and Ntarama and Nyamata
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $1,500
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period.
- All homestays (approximately two weeks in Uganda and two weeks in Rwanda)
- 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:
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: $ 50
Books & Supplies: $ 20
International Phone: Each student must bring a phone with them to their program.
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.