Peacebuilding through Dialogue N Ireland

For the second year , Gonzaga University‘s Master’s Program in Communication and Leadership Studies is offering a graduate course in Derry, Northern Ireland to MA and PhD students. January 2, 2014-Januray 12, 2014 Peacebuilding through Dialogue in Northern Ireland.

Program Overview:
This hybrid on-line and study abroad program, sponsored by the Master’s Program in Communication and Leadership Studies provides a unique opportunity for students to develop understanding and the skills necessary for fostering peacebuilding and storytelling.  With pre and post online components as well as eight days of residency in Derry, Northern Ireland, and a day excursion to Belfast, Northern, Ireland.  Additionally there is a free travel day to the Northcoast of Ireland.  The aim of this course is to introduce concepts from the field of communication that enable an understanding of how local peacebuilding can build bridges across conflicting groups in deeply divided societies. Communication and dialogue are closely intertwined and together act at the heart of establishing shared space and creating a common future. It is in this shared space that the process of peace has begun to take shape.  However as Bakhtin (1981) insists, “each word tastes of the context and contexts in which it has lived its socially charged life” (p.293).

The course will reflect on the causes and history of The Troubles (1969-1998) as well as the tortuous peace process following the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Based on that agreement, Northern Ireland’s devolved government finally became reality in 2008. Local peacebuilding through dialogue is central to understanding how peace has been maintained.

Dialogue requires responsiveness which is made possible by qualities of thought and talk allowing transformation to take place: transformation in how people understand the self, the other, and the societies they inhabit. These qualities of thought and talk include a willingness to risk change in one’s own perspective and a commitment to embracing and struggling with others whose worldviews may be different from and threatening to one’s own.

In addition, working with former combatant’s of these troubles, students will complete a profile writing component of using storytelling and photography to tell the story of a local community member for our Faces and Voices of Derry Project.

Course Objectives:
Given full participation in the course, the student will be able to:

  • Explain the role of dialogue in communication.
  • Analyze the causes and history of The Troubles and the post-1998 peace process.
  • Recognize the development of shared community.
  • Interview and tell a story in a photojournalistic style of a one of the citizens of Derry using the class blog/website.
  • Explain the role dialogue can play in effective leadership in contemporary America.

Program Highlights:

  • Meet with peace practitioners, former combatants and local leaders from both the Nationalist and Unioninst communities in Northern Ireland
  • Walk the famous 17th century wall of Derry with an experience local guide
  • Visit the Shankhill and Falls Road areas of Belfast, their murals, and “peace walls” with former combatants from the Nationalist and Unionist communities as guides
  • Hear first hand how local peace leaders have created projects to work toward understanding and healing
  • Learn interviewing and facilitation skills for building dialogic practices
  • Create daily photo and storytelling blog.

Additional Information: See an archive of the student work and reflections in the program.


Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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