Summer School 2011

Summer School 2010, University College Dublin, Ireland.

The 2011 Universitas 21 Summer School, hosted at University College Dublin from July 11-19 with the theme “Conflict Resolution”, attracted 71 students from 17 U21 partner universities.

There were six principal learning objectives for the Summer School:

  • To gain a detailed knowledge of the dynamic of conflict; its causes and manifestations
  • To gain insights into how conflict is expressed and played out in individual, social, cultural, geopolitical and global contexts
  • To understand and assimilate strategies and techniques that may be used to resolve conflict
  • To understand how conflict and conflict resolution varies between individuals, cultures, societies and nations
  • To gain detailed knowledge of the historical, social and political circumstances relating to some of the world’s most visible contemporary conflicts, with a particular emphasis on the Irish case study
  • To learn group-work skills necessary for constructive negotiation and mediation strategies in the resolution of conflict. 

The academic programme, which was delivered by a combination of visiting U21 academics, UCD staff and invited speakers, included a mixture of seminars and workshops touching on Conflict Resolution-related topics as diverse as German reunification, media ethics, inner-city housing estates, military intervention, labour conflict, restorative justice, policing, the European Union approach to crisis management and post-conflict strategies.

There was a particular emphasis on understanding and learning from the Irish experience. A particularly poignant session brought together senior Republican and Loyalist representatives for an exploration of the journey from violence to community engagement.

The students had the opportunity to witness the experiences of the two communities in Northern Ireland first-hand during a weekend trip to Armagh and Belfast. In Armagh the students were given a political and historical tour by former Republican political prisoners, and in Belfast the students were led on a mural and peace wall tour by members of Youthworks, a community organization that promotes the interaction of young people from both communities.

The Northern Ireland weekend finished with a rather wet visit to the Giant’s Causeway (Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site) in County Antrim on the northeast coast.

The Summer School culminated in a negotiation simulation facilitated by the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, an Irish NGO dedicated to transforming violent conflict within and between divided communities by providing leadership and support in practical peace building. The Glencree Centre has trained groups from countries as diverse as Haiti, Sri Lanka, Israel/Palestine and Colombia. The Centre facilitated a full-day negotiation simulation where the U21 students, divided into groups, completed a range of negotiation-based tasks involving hypothetical resources.

The academic programme was complemented by a busy social and cultural programme; this included a visit to Dublin’s famous Kilmainham Gaol, an introduction to Gaelic Games, a visit to the Leopardstown Racetrack, an Irish cultural show in Temple Bar, and an enthusiastic exploration of Dublin’s nightlife. Students were also able to make use of UCD’s brand new UCD Global Lounge, which provides a relaxing hub for internationalization on the campus and features a 12-screen video system with a choice of over 400 international TV channels accessed through wireless headphones.

On the final day of the Summer School, we asked students to complete an evaluation form. When asked if the Summer School had met their expectations, comments received include:

 “I interacted with a lot of people from all over the world. It was very intellectually and socially satisfying. Particularly enjoyed talks by people who were actively involved in the struggles”

“I learned a lot, I feel that I can use what I learned in my own life, like seeing the better side of people. I had fun and made friends from over the world! Thank you!”

“I was able to get a very, good idea of the conflict involving Ireland and met many new friends of such varied culture and ideas. It was a beautiful experience involving a very important subject matter”

“I feel so lucky to have been able to attend! Meeting people from all over the world and learning together about conflict resolution was awesome!”

“I had a lovely week, meeting interesting intellectual and inspirational people and feel that this was a wonderful opportunity provided by UCD”