The Derry Peace Building Project
This course – appropriate for graduate students and senior or junior undergraduates – is a cultural immersion experience designed to build and understand the concepts of storytelling and dialogue as it applies to peace building in Northern Ireland. Building on communication skills of interviewing, storytelling, photography and blogging, the aim of this course is to introduce concepts from the field of communication that enable an understanding of how local peace building can bring together conflicting groups in deeply divided societies. The course is valuable to students interested in peace and conflict studies as well as Irish history, intercultural communication competence, journalism and healing through the arts.
Communication and dialogue are closely intertwined and together act at the heart of establishing shared space and creating a common future. 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 peace building through dialogue is central to understanding how peace has been maintained.
Students will learn the process of storytelling, healing and ethical understanding. They will also meet and conduct interviews with former combatants who are helping build the peace process, then share stories like this through ethnographic writing and a multimedia website. Faculty will work online with students for a week before and after the classes in Derry.
The class will include a profile writing component by using storytelling and photography to tell the story of a local community member for the Faces and Stories of Derry Project. Additional course work guides students in the process of cultural adaptation and building a greater understanding of cultural diversity and the ability to work in peace building and conflict negotiation settings.
Derry, Northern Ireland
Dominating the northwestern landscapes of Ireland is the beautiful 6th century city of Derry. Having been placed by Lonely Planet as the fourth-best city to visit in 2013 and awarded the first-ever U.K. City of Culture. The city and the North Coast of Ireland are in transformation. Derry, also known as Londonderry, is a city on the River Foyle. It’s known as the “Walled City” because of the 17th century Derry Walls, the Siege of Derry, the cathedrals, the Tower Museum, the Peace Bridge and the murals telling the stories of resistance and peace. It is also known for its wonderful pub life and traditional Irish music and dance. It also has the Millennium Forum Theater & Conference Center for major concerts and plays. Derry is home to the University of Ulster and has many fine shops and restaurants, including the oldest department store in the U.K. There are many neighborhoods that tell some of the harrowing events of “The Troubles,” including the Waterside and the Bogside, which was the site of the infamous “Bloody Sunday.” Many American immigrants from Ireland set off from Derry.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
With a population of almost 300,000, Belfast is a cosmopolitan destination and popular weekend getaway for travelers, with two major airports. It is also home to the shipyards that built the Titanic and to Titanic Studios, where “Game of Thrones” is shot. We travel to Belfast to visit the famous sites of the Peace Walls of East Belfast and the Shankill road area, along with relaxation and shopping.
A fairy tale of a place, the town features a harbor, beaches, Donegal Abbey and Donegal Castle. Donegal is near the northern tip of Ireland, the North Coast and the Giant’s Causeway. No trip to Ireland would be complete without a scenic trip to the North Coast, including many castles, the famous Giant’s Causeway, the Glens of Antrim, Bushmill’s Distillery and the landscapes of the “Game of Thrones.”
Set within the 17th century walls, close to famous pubs, restaurants and shopping, students stay in the Mauldron Hotel, which overlooks the Bogside region of Derry. It is a three-minute walk to the Tower Museum and four minutes from the famous Guildhall and the Peace Bridge. Student rooms are double occupancy, but single occupancy is available at a supplemental rate.
Students will be working with photos and websites, so you should have a laptop and a camera. Be sure you have the appropriate power cords and connections cords to upload or download information. This is not always possible on iPads and other tablets, so be very familiar with your equipment and its limitations. Thumb drives (4 gigabyte or greater) are needed to store your own photos, videos and stories in order to move them from computer to computer. Electrical: You will need adaptor plugs in Northern Ireland in order to plug in American and Canadian appliances (hair dryers, chargers, etc.) into English/Irish outlets. If your appliances are not marked for 200-220 volts, you will also need a power converter.
Students will receive three graduate or undergraduate credits and a grade from our partner institution, the University of Jamestown. The credits are transferable, and we will help you get them accepted at your university for journalism and communication upper-division or elective credits.
John Caputo, Ph.D., (Program Director) is a professor and founder of the master’s program in Communication and Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University and the Walter Ong Distinguished Scholar. His areas of expertise include communication theory, intercultural communication and peacebuilding. He has taught and guided students in the Gonzaga-in-Florence Program, in Cagli, Italy, for nearly 14 years and in Derry for the past four years.
Giovanni Caputo, MA, is an adjunct professor of communication at Gonzaga University and Whitworth University. Aside from teaching in Italy, he has spent time teaching at various levels in the French public school system. His academic interests include journalism, short story writing and storytelling. In addition to teaching a course on journaling, he was also the editor of the Cronica de Cagli, Armagh Examiner and Around Armagh, and the Gonzaga-in-Derry blog for the Peacebuilding Through Dialogue course.
View complete faculty biographies on our Derry in January Faculty Page.
Students are admitted on a rolling basis once their references have been checked, but don’t delay, because the deadlines for this January program are Nov. 30 for applications and $500 deposits, with Dec. 15 for final payments of $3,200. A $50 application fee is non-refundable once the student receives official notice of acceptance into the program. The application is online and requires the $50 fee payment through PayPal in order to be transmitted to ieiMedia offices. For more information, fill out our contact form.