USC offers real-world conflict program

As part of an expanded emphasis on peace and conflict studies, students will, for the first time, travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland to study conflict resolution.

Ireland · Cait Finnigan, a senior majoring in history, waits for students to ask her questions about the program at the study abroad fair Wednesday. - Alex Dealy | Daily Trojan

Provided through the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences Office of Overeseas Studies, the program will send students to study at the Trinity College Dublin, Irish School of Ecumenics in spring 2012.

The course was first offered late last fall, but was cancelled because of a lack of interest and a shortened timeline.

This semester the office is confident students will respond to the opportunity because of practical emphasis and relevance.

“Conflict resolution is a huge deal, not only post-Sept. 11, but it always has been,” said Peter Hilton, associate director of the office. “This program gives students a chance to study conflict resolution in a particular context that is not only applicable to global conflict but any conflict in general.”

The program provided students with information during Wednesday’s study abroad fair and  the office was optimistic about the draw of Belfast itself.

“[Belfast] used to be a city people avoided and now it is a city people are attracted to,” said Adam Hempling, a study abroad adviser. “It not only offers an opportunity to engage and go have fun, but it also offers an opportunity to engage in history and see how a city has emerged from conflict.”

Katie King, a senior majoring in anthropology, said she learned a lot when studying in Northern Ireland last summer.

“The coolest thing about this is you see [conflict resolution] firsthand,” King said. “It’s really incredible to be a part of it. It’s definitely worth it for undergrads to see the issues personally.”

Hempling also said all majors can apply to the program and credit can be given toward degrees in international relations, religion, anthropology and sociology. Students interested in the program are required to check with their study abroad advisers to get final approval.

Applications for the program are due Monday, Sept. 12.