Peace Lab in Kosovo
Peace Lab is a course offered at AUC in the Social Sciences major during the June intensive and provides students with field training and experience in hands-on qualitative research, as well as experience with methodologies in the peace-building, peace-making and peace-keeping fields. Through site visits the course presents a unique opportunity for students to compare and contrast theory and practice.
From classroom theory to lived realities in Kosovo
The course is divided into three main sections. Section one consists of seven days of intensive classroom training, which includes lectures, readings and trip preparation. Students learn about the historical and political background of the Balkans with an in-depth look at Kosovo in particular. This training introduces students to both theory and context in order to sensitize them to wider academic research regarding post-conflict areas, while keeping in mind local, cultural differences and factors.
Section two consists of a 10-day field trip to Kosovo. Students visit various UN organisations and NGOs, discussing post war peace building, local cultures of human rights, formation of a nation state, youth participation and other issues such as LGBT and women's rights. These site visits serve as an invaluable experience for students to see, hear and understand for themselves a post-conflict society and the many threads of peace building from a human rights perspective in the field.
Section three includes six days of follow-up, reflection and final assignments. The assignments and follow-up give students an opportunity to reflect, both individually and as a group, on the trip, people they've met and stories they've listened to. After experiencing the cultures and issues first-hand, this forces students to negotiate the lived realities of these individuals with theories they've studied, encouraging them to critically analyse the role of academic research, governmental policies and wider peace-building strategies.
Reflections in images and writing
During their trip, select students are asked to contribute blog entries to document and share their thoughts and reflections. Through their blog, "Crossing the Bridge", the yearly visits and experiences of various students have been documented over the past three years.