Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation
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Live and study in Gulu
The program is based in the northern Ugandan city of Gulu, commonly referred to as Gulu town. Students live with a host family in Gulu for six weeks and attend lectures and have excursions. In Gulu, students observe the cross-border dynamics between northern Uganda and southern Sudan as well as the work of the UN and other international humanitarian NGOs.
For more than two decades, Gulu was at the epicenter of conflict in northern Uganda. During this period, thousands of Ugandans were displaced from their ancestral land and forced to settle in camps for internally displaced peoples, causing the area's population to swell from 20,000 to around 150,000. Thousands of Ugandans became dependent on local and international NGOs and humanitarian agencies such as the UN, the World Food Program, Oxfam, and Caritas for food, shelter, water, and clothing. Following the Juba Peace Talks, which brought relative peace to the area, many people returned to their villages and have begun recovering from the effects of war by rebuilding their homes and fields, sending their children to school, and receiving psychosocial support.
Students will witness the damage the conflict inflicted on property, infrastructure, and in the lives of the area's people. Today, Gulu town is rapidly developing, evident through the city's construction of new residential and commercial buildings, banks, schools, and trade with Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Thematic seminar on post-conflict transformation and community building
The program's multidisciplinary thematic seminar is taught by lecturers from Gulu University, Makarere University in Kampala, and other program partners and professionals working in the fields of community building, justice, and development.
Key topics of study include:
- The social and political history of conflicts in Uganda
- National and ethnic identity
- Refugees and internally displaced peoples
- Peace restoration and community building
- The history of genocide and anatomy of conflict in Rwanda (comparative case study)
Students discover how grassroots efforts by local organizations continue to play a central factor in addressing the economic, social, and psychological effects of conflict in both Uganda and Rwanda.
Students receive intensive instruction in Acholi, a widely spoken language in northern Uganda, and understood in southern Sudan, eastern Kenya, western Congo, and northern Tanzania. Classes are taught by native Acholi speakers and are designed to help students become more immersed in the community. Students are able to improve their language skills by speaking with their host families and through interactive assignments.
Language instruction will give students the necessary grounding to use the language in day-to-day interactions as well as a framework for further language study on the ground.
Learn research tools and ethical norms for doing research in a post-conflict environment
The program's Field Study Seminar introduces students to the fundamentals of research tools, methodologies, and ethical norms of conducting research in a post-conflict environment. As part of the course, students engage in briefing and de-briefing sessions to process their experiences surrounding the memorial visits.
Complete an independent research project or internship
Students complete an independent study project (ISP)or an internship with a local NGO or association working in the area of peacebuilding or sustainable reconciliation. This option gives students the opportunity to either reflect conceptually and through field study on post-conflict achievements and community building in northern Uganda, or the chance to complete a service learning project with an educational or human rights institution.
Sample topic areas for the ISP include:
Migration in northern Uganda; peace camp curriculum; national holidays and celebrations as markers of identity development; local perspectives on peace negotiations; print and radio coverage of conflict in Uganda; traditional political structures; economic dimensions of conflict; traditional justice systems; challenges of post-conflict reconstruction; gender and conflict; the politics of conflict memory; counseling and psychosocial support in post-conflict environments.
Possible internship sites include:
Human Rights Focus, Caritas; Concerned Parents Association; St. Mary Hospital Lacor; Invisible Children; Acholi Cultural Institution (Ker Kwaro); Kitgum Youth Center; Straight Talk Foundation; TASO Counseling Center; Gulu Local District Council; The Center for Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes Region; Norwegian Refugee Council; Italian Cooperation Agency.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Gulu
Language Study: Acholi
Prerequisites: Coursework in conflict theories recommended. Read more...
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