New MA in Peace & Justice Leadership


SIT Peace & Justice Leadership MA features South Africa residency, DC partnerships

Low-residency format allows students to stay in current jobs


Image of Nelson Mandela on the side of a building

September 20, 2018

A new peace and justice master’s degree from School for International Training will include a formative two-week residency in South Africa, and classes through two influential organizations, the United States Institute of Peace and the Alliance for Peacebuilding in Washington, DC.

SIT Graduate Institute’s new MA in Peace and Justice Leadership launches in June 2019 with a three-week residency in Vermont and Washington, DC. The program continues online; with a South Africa residency during the second year. The format allows students to complete their master’s degree in 24 months without leaving their current jobs. The program is aimed at preparing students to launch or advance their careers within NGOs, government agencies; development and humanitarian aid and human rights organizations; educational settings and youth programs; and inter-group relations.

A man in a blue addidas shirt looking at a black and white imageSIT Graduate Institute is well known for its social justice mission, which crosses all degree areas, and its longstanding MA programs in peace. This new program is SIT’s nimble response to a changing global landscape, said Dr. Bruce Dayton, chair of the new degree.

Hear SIT professors Dr. Bruce Dayton and Imraan Buccus discuss SIT’s new MA in Peace and Justice Leadership.

The program recognizes three district trends in the field: increased interest in the mobilization of domestic nonviolent social action and social movements in U.S. communities; development of hard skills such as negotiation, mediation, monitoring and evaluation, and cross-cultural communication; and the evolution of peace and security fields that spotlights the inextricable link between justice and peace.

“You can’t make peace without addressing the underlying cultural, social, and economic factors that perpetuate inequality and injustice across political systems,” said Dayton. “Everything else is window dressing. You can teach people to talk nicely to each other, but that alone doesn’t mitigate structural inequalities.”

three studens sitting at a desk in a classroomDuring the second year of the program, students will spend about two weeks in South Africa under the guidance of Imraan Buccus, a PhD research fellow and lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Politics and a prolific journalist and author. Buccus was active in the student movements that played an essential part in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.

“Student activism has re-emerged as central to our struggle today,” Buccus said. “Young people, many of whom are unemployed or desperately poor, are taking to the streets.” South Africa has become the most protest-rich country in the world, he noted, with more than 5,000 protests annually.

“It’s a relevant, potent social laboratory for students,” Buccus said. “Whether you talk about gender or housing or trade or sexuality, all of these things are inter-related and show us how short a time 25 years is in the life a democracy.”

Brick wall with a plaque that says "1946. 'The house itself was identical to hundeds of others built on postage-stamp-size plots on dirt roads.' Nelson Mandela"While in South Africa, students will have the opportunity to closely examine figures like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, and to meet with iconic leaders including Gandhi’s granddaughter, Ela Gandhi, a peace activist and former member of Parliament representing the African National Congress. They will visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Desmond Tutu’s and Nelson Mandela’s houses in Soweto; Robben Island, where Mandela and other ANC leaders were imprisoned, and more.

The MA program kicks off in June 2019 with SIT’s CONTACT summer program in Vermont that attracts peace activists from around the world. CONTACT alumni include Maliha Hassan, deputy attorney general of Afghanistan; Dishani Jayaweera, director of the Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka; Vahidin Omanovic, founder and director of the Center for Peacebuilding in Bosnia; and former Rwandan parliamentarian Joseph Sebarenzi.

Outside of the residencies in Vermont and South Africa, students will conduct the balance of their coursework online.  They may opt to take a one-week skills-building traveling seminar in Washington, DC, with the United States Institute of Peace, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and other NGOs.  

Three studens solving a problem on paper, sitting at a desk.The United States Institute of Peace is an independent national institute founded by Congress and dedicated to the proposition that a world without violent conflict is possible, practical, and essential for U.S. and global security. The Institute provides training, analysis, and other resources to people, organizations, and governments working to build peace.

The Alliance for Peacebuilding is a membership network of more than 100 of the most important organizations in the world active in the fields of conflict transformation, peace-promotion, sustainable development, security. 

Students will complete the program with a capstone project with an international peace and justice organization through the Alliance for Peacebuilding network.

Applications for SIT’s MA in Peace and Justice Leadership are open now, and financial aid is available. Click here to learn more and to apply.