By Brendan Monahan ’15
Stonehill College is partnering with organizations in Serbia and Armenia to change the way students learn about peacebuilding, diplomacy and global crime, providing continuity between theory and practice.
The College’s departments of Political Science & International Studies and Sociology & Criminology are partnering with the Office of International Programs in the fall to launch the “Learning Inside Out” program, offering students the opportunity to study and work here and abroad. Students enrolled in the program take one of two tracks in the fall: conflict analysis or global crime.
Work Alongside International Peacemakers
International conflict resolution is an interdisciplinary field of study that has been informing diplomatic practice, international development and peace processes around the world. This program provides the students with an opportunity to work side by side with peacebuilding practitioners in regions of “frozen conflicts”. The Conflict Analysis Program begins with POL 347 Conflict Analysis and Resolution, a course that has been developed and taught by Political Science Professor Anna Ohanyan since 2006. It begins with a general study of international conflicts spanning the 20th century. It explores literature on common conditions of conflict and peace, from the social and economic to the political. Students in this class, examine methods of international conflict management used by various international organizations and look at long-term approaches to conflict management, including the role of transnational and local business, international development, regional governance, and democratization.
Explore International Crime and Efforts to Combat it
Global crime is a growing concern in an increasingly interconnected world. The Global Crime Program begins with CRM 355 Global Crime/Globalization and Transnational Crime, a course taught by Criminology Professor Anamika Twyman-Ghoshal. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach to help students gain a better understanding of crime in a global context, and explores various forms of international and transnational crime within the context of an interconnected world. Students then learn about various forms of global crimes including international crime, human trafficking, maritime piracy, corruption, corporate deviance referring to criminological theories and current knowledge in the field. The aim is to prepare students to understand causation, victimization, and control problems faced in a global age.
Internships Place Students Overseas to See Issues Firsthand
After passing the fall course, students intern in Armenia or Serbia in the spring semester. These organizations are either peacebuilding NGOs and think tanks (for Conflict Analysis and Resolution track) or NGOs and research centers working in the area of global crime, human rights and justice policy (Global Crime track). This internship experience will allow the students to take what they learned in the classroom and apply it to work in the field of conflict analysis or global crime respectively. Internship sites include the Helsinki Commission for Human Rights in Belgrade, the Eurasia Partnership in Yerevan, the Center for Excellence in Negotiation in Yerevan, the Victimology Society of Serbia, ASTRA Anti-Trafficking Action in Belgrade, Centre for Applied Non Violent Action & Strategies in Belgrade, and PRAXIS, a non-governmental organization for the protection of human rights in Belgrade.
At the end of the internship, all students enrolled in the program will convene in Armenia for a two-week long integrative seminar followed by a presentation of their research at an undergraduate conference titled “New Voices: Junior Scholars’ Conference on Regional Security”. This yearlong ‘Learning Inside Out’ experience supports the students’ journey from the theoretical realm (taking the required course at Stonehill) to practice (internship in a conflict region) and then back again to theory (in the form of the integrative seminar and the academic conference in Armenia).
A Different Type of International Experience
The program is designed to provide a different type of international experience than anything Stonehill, or any other college or university has ever offered before. Here, academic learning and internship experience are tightly interwoven to expose students to the limits of theories and the complexity of real-world problems. Furthermore, by encountering this complexity in conflict regions (Serbia and Armenia) the students will rediscover the value of theories as organizing constructs, despite their limitations and shortcomings.
“The program gives our students a great narrative which can shape their lives for years to come. Spending time in a society that has been through war and recovered, and working side by side with regional peacebuilders is such a great and humbling learning opportunity. It will provide students with amazing lessons which are hard to come by behind the walls of the academia,” Ohanyan said.
Twyman-Ghoshal said she hopes to change Stonehill students’ ideas of a typical abroad experience. “With this program, we want to break the imaginary line that students draw between areas they think they can or cannot travel to, while providing them with an opportunity to hone their research and work skills. It will be a transformative experience,” Twyman-Ghoshal said.