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Rwanda: Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding (SIT)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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This SIT program examines the origins of conflict in Rwanda, the social, human, psychological and economic impacts of genocide, and the challenges and opportunities of post-conflict restoration. Field visits to memorials, museums, civil society organizations and commissions working toward reconciliation are an essential part of the program. In addition, students will visit with investors to explore their contributions to Rwanda's rapid economic development. Students will also learn about post-conflict reconciliation in a very different context during the program's two-week excursion to northern Uganda.

Major topics of study include:

  • Rwandan history and culture, ethnicities, and origins of conflict and genocidal outbreak
  • The institutional and collective strategies of remembrance and strategies to fight genocide denial
  • The social and psychological impact of genocide on survivors and their descendents
  • National and international involvement in genocide prevention and peacebuilding and the interrelations between peace, justice, reconciliation and forgiveness
  • Refugees and displaced people in post-conflict environments
  • Post-genocide economic development

The program is based in Kigali, Rwanda's capital city. Kigali is home to many commissions, organizations, and government bodies related to the program's study of post-genocide restoration and peacebuilding. A major genocide memorial and information center is located in the neighborhood of Gisozi. Kigali is a medium-sized modern city in which clear signs of a successful recovery from the devastating impact of the 1994 genocide are still visible. Parts of the city also reflect the poor living conditions many Rwandans still endure. Kigali's neighborhoods stretch over the many hills on which the city was built, which provide breathtaking views over th e city and the surrounding valleys.

The program's thematic seminar features lectures by leading Rwandan academics and professionals working in the areas of genocide studies, peace studies, and development.

Students will receive intensive instruction in Rwanda's national language, Kinyarwanda. Formal instruction in the classroom is complemented by immersion in the community and direct experience of Rwandan society and culture. Students will be able to improve their language skills by speaking with their host families and through interactive assignments. Acquiring a basic knowledge of Kinyarwanda is important for entry into Rwandan culture, and it assists students in their completion of the required Independent Study Project. The program's field study seminar introduces students to the fundamentals of research tools and the ethical norms of doing research in a post-conflict environment. As a part of the course, students will engage in briefing and debriefing sessions to process experiences surrounding the visits to memorials.

All students will complete an Independent Study Project (ISP), which gives students an opportunity to explore a topic, community, or situation related to post-conflict transformation of particular interest. The ISP is conducted in consultation with the program's academic director, lecturers and practitioners. Possible topics include:

  • Refugees and displaced people in the Great Lakes Region
  • Approaches to nation building
  • Transnational conflicts and their impact on economic and social development
  • Language and identity
  • Issues surrounding collective memory and memorials
  • Democracy and freedom of speech in post-genocide environments
  • Rwandan homegrown mechanisms of conflict management and settlement of disputes
  • Gender and peacebuilding

Although certain topics and geographical areas may not be allowed by program staff, projects can be conducted in a wide range of locations and on a wide range of topics.

Credits 4.5 for successful completion of the fall or spring semester.
Program advisor: Professor Katie Stewart

  Learn more about the SIT Rwanda: Post-Genocide Restoration and Peacebuilding program and other SIT programs.

Click here for more information about the application process, program selection, and more!

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022