Peacebuilding and Integrated Education in a Post-Conflict Society

Alternative Break Northern Ireland 2013

The Trip:
This Alternative Break trip to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will focus on conflict resolution in the specific context of the peace process in Northern Ireland. During the era known as “The Troubles,” which lasted from the 1960s until 1998, Northern Ireland was the scene of tumultuous civil conflict between Catholic and Protestant communities. While the country’s peace process has brought an end to large-scale violence in the region, tensions are still evident within local communities. This trip seeks to explore how communities in a post-conflict environment bridge the divides that were created by past violence, and what makes conflict resolution work at the local level.

More specifically, the trip will examine the role of integrated schools in fostering understanding and acceptance in a divided society. While communities in Northern Ireland are still largely segregated between Catholics and Protestants, many are making progress toward developing integrated education systems to bridge the gaps left by decades of conflict. Since the end of the Troubles, education has developed into a topic of particular importance in easing the remaining tensions between Catholics and Protestants, as well as stemming new tensions caused by increased immigration in recent years.

The journey begins in the Republic of Ireland, where participants will venture into the Irish countryside to visit the Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation, a non-governmental organization that seeks to build bridges between communities that have been affected by the conflict. There, we will learn about the conflict’s history, what modern problems have developed from it, and basic conflict resolution processes through workshops with Center’s volunteers, building a foundation of knowledge to prepare for community engagement in Northern Ireland.

The second part of the trip takes us to Northern Ireland, where we will witness firsthand both the issues that still divide local communities and how these same communities are working to overcome obstacles to lasting peace. Participants will visit the historic city of Derry/Londonderry, the setting for many civil rights marches during the Troubles. We will tour the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast to learn about the contemporary peace process. We will spend significant time in Belfast, where we will explore in greater depth the concept of integrated education through meetings with government officials and organizations leading Northern Ireland’s movement toward integrated school systems, as well as by visiting an integrated school. Service projects on the trip are currently being developed with community partner organizations and may involve working with schools or peace organizations.

About the Trip Leaders…

Regan Alsup is a senior double majoring in International Relations and Film and Media Arts. Within her IR major, she is focusing on International Peace and Conflict Resolution. She participated in the Alternative Spring Break trip to Ireland/Northern Ireland in Spring 2010 and has also studied the peace processes in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. Last Spring, Regan studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal.

Kevin Nesline is a senior in the School of International Service with a concentration in International Politics and a minor in Audio Technology. He is a past Alternative Break participant, having travelled to Ireland and Northern Ireland on a Spring 2010 trip. During his junior year, Kevin studied abroad in London.

Dylan McDowell is a senior in the School of International Service with a concentration in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. He participated in an Alternative Break trip in the Spring of 2010 to Ireland and Northern Ireland. As a junior, Dylan studied abroad in Russia.

Trip Itinerary (subject to change):

Day 1:
Overnight Flight to Dublin

Day 2:
Arrive in Dublin
Walking Tour of Dublin
Group Dinner & Reflection

Day 3:
Travel to Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation in Wicklow Mountains
Afternoon meetings with Glencree Staff (topics include: history of the conflict in Northern Ireland, the recent peace process, and general conflict resolution methods)

Day 4:
Morning workshops at Glencree, building on previous day
Travel back to Dublin
Group dinner and reflection

Day 5:
Travel to Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland
Meet with survivors of the Troubles and take walking tour of the historical sites
Group reflection time

Day 6:
Leave Derry/Londonderry in the AM
Take sightseeing tour of Northern Irish Coastline, including Giant’s Causeway
Arrive in Belfast
Black Taxi Tout of Belfast’s historical sites related to the Troubles, including peace murals
Group reflection time

Day 7:
Visit Stormont, meeting place of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Meet with Members of the Legislative Assembly to discuss education policy and peace-building efforts in contemporary Northern Ireland
Afternoon meeting with Northern Ireland Council on Integrated Education to learn about school integration efforts and education policy as it relates to conflict resolution

Day 8:
Visit an integrated school to further demonstrate to participants how education can be a vehicle for peace-building efforts
Group dinner in Belfast
Group reflection time

Day 9:
Return to Dublin
Free time to explore Dublin
Group dinner and final group reflection

Day 10:
Early morning flight back to United States



Location: Ireland, Northern Ireland
Dates of Trip: March 9 – March 17, 2013
Student Leaders: Regan Alsup, Kevin Nesline, Dylan McDowell
Faculty Advisor: TBD
Cost:  $2,100
Cost includes airfare, food, accommodation, transportation, travel insurance, and all planned activities.