Leadership and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland: Literary, Historical, and Political Perspectives on Peacebuilding
This course is no longer being offered.
Northern Ireland has been the site of tremendous polarization and violence over the past several decades, but also the site of remarkable efforts at conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It therefore provides students with a unique context for examining both the dynamics of conflict and strategies for its peaceful transformation. This two-week course in Belfast, Northern Ireland, will explore these dynamics and strategies from multiple perspectives, drawing on the fields of conflict resolution/transformation and Northern Irish literature and history to deepen our understanding of the challenges associated with transforming conflict. Guest lectures by local activists, politicians, religious leaders, former militants, artists, businesspeople, and others, as well as visits to sites with symbolic or institutional importance to the conflict and its transformation; such as Derry/Londonderry (site of the Bloody Sunday protests), divided Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods in Belfast, and Stormont (site of the Northern Ireland Assembly; will bring to the surface both key areas of progress and on-going issues of contention. In addition to course discussions, guest speakers, field trips, small-group activities, role-plays, short written assignments, and presentations, we will use poems, plays, short stories, and films as media through which to inhabit multiple perspectives of the conflict and thereby gain a greater appreciation for its complexity and human dimension.
The course will be divided into roughly two week-long modules. The first week will provide an introduction to Northern Irish history and literature, as well as to conflict analysis and conflict resolution skills (in particular, active listening and feedback, negotiation, and mediation), equipping students with some useful conceptual frameworks and tools not only for thinking about the Northern Ireland case but also for addressing conflict in their own lives. The second week will use the Northern Ireland case to ground the conflict theory gained in the first module and to bring out, following the historical trajectory of the Northern Ireland conflict, additional topics in the broader field of conflict transformation: violent and nonviolent struggle, cycles of violence, zones of peace, peace processes and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, gender and peace-making, and longer-term peacebuilding processes (DDR, institutional/structural reforms, restorative justice, inter-communal commercial enterprises, etc.).