BCA Study Abroad  

Understanding Conflict: The Irish Experience
Syllabus– Fall 2015, Taught on Location
Resident Director, Dr Kieran Doyle
Accreditation of the course- BCA offer 3 full course credits. 
Field Trip to Belfast

What students say 

The aim of this Course is to introduce students to how humans manage conflict, in order to instill an understanding of the nature and impact of conflict in society. This is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented Peace and Conflict Studies module.

The Module will use the prism of the long and supposedly intractable conflict in Ireland as the basis and primary case study to elucidate the issues involved.  This approach will maximize the benefit of the student’s experience of being on the ground in Ireland to give the material a unique authenticity, immediacy and relevance.

The Course unites the emphasis on conflict as a process of social interaction with practical examples drawn from Irish experience. By looking at the Irish conflict from historical, political, sociological and international perspectives, students will explore how it is possible to move from a situation of violent conflict towards a transformative peace.  The entails a period of field-work in the divided city of Belfast.  Students will have the opportunity to take advantage of being on the ground in Ireland both in the North (Belfast) the South (Maynooth) to analyze the experience of “the troubles” and the Irish peace process. The Module will examine the contemporary and historical background of the Conflict to find a context for the road to peace in Ireland. ​


 Course Objectives

  1. To foster critical understanding and student collaboration in studying the peace process in Ireland.
  2. To encourage students to work effectively individually and in groups through discovering new subject matter.
  3. To understand the nature and impact of conflict in society with special reference to the Irish situation
  4. To explore the components of historical, political and sociological division which sustain conflict in a divided society 
  5. To explore the city of Derry as a case-study of how violent conflict can be made amenable to a dynamic peace process.
  6.  More generally, to build communication and conflict resolution skills which will allow us to handle conflict more effectively.

Learning Outcomes

To successfully complete this course, you must hand in homework assignments by their due dates, attend classes regularly, and participate actively in class activities. You must also demonstrate these competencies:

  • Demonstrate willingness to meaningfully self-reflect and articulate ways in which your own conflict engagement behaviour enhances and/or limits your effectiveness in managing conflict.
  • Demonstrate your ability to use and give a rationale for using fundamental skills in managing conflict and to explore these with reference to the Irish case-study.Reflect upon the peculiar dynamics of the historical, political and sociological nature of the Irish Conflict.
  • Prepare for and apply conflict management skills to a “real life” situation.

Course Requirements

  •     Actively participate in and contribute to class discussion and group activities.
  •     Read the assigned materials and be prepared to demonstrate the application of the theories, terms, and processes contained in the readings.
  •      Submit presentations and papers on time and in the required format.
  •    Attend class regularly, arrive on time and stay until the end of the class.

Course Topics- as issued to students on arrival.

Group Projects

Students will work together in assigned groups. Each group will present its work to the class on  pre-arranged days.  Groups will research, write a group paper and make a presentation, presenting a broad range of perspectives of the issue and make recommendations for addressing the conflict situation.

Groups will present their papers in class including a short hand-out for each class member defining  important points. Presentations may include the use of debates, power point slides, video, role playing or artistic presentation or any other creative medium. Presentations should take about 30 minutes, including time for questions.