Amahoro Project: Infuse Peace Building Content with an Emphasis on Critical and Creative Thinking for the University of Ngozi, local communities and schools in Burundi, East Africa and Beyond

 

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“Amahoro” is the Kirundi word for peace. Founded in 1999 with a commitment to peace and reconciliation, its University of Ngozi (UNG) is uniquely situated to be a laboratory for peace-building and sustainable development and the Amahoro Project hopes to help lead the way. We recognize that economic development will suffer if violence continues and that peace will be a casualty if communities remain mired in poverty. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, emerging from colonization and forty years of violence. Recent conflicts currently threaten the last eight years of stability but conditions in the region of Ngozi have remained peaceful for many years and that is one of the principle reasons why we are working there. Those committed to this project believe that sustainable development must wed with restorative educational innovations to prepare new leaders to heal and foster civil society as basic infrastructure needs are addressed. In all our endeavors, we propose to use locally generated and regionally applicable case- and project-based learning along with ideas and skills for peace building (i.e.,  improved communication, cooperation, conflict resolution and more) to transform surface or memorized learning into a greater emphasis on critical and creative thinking. Over the course of this project, the UNG will be established as a viable center for research and development in sustainable peace and development. With this grant, those at the UNG can help Burundi forge (1) a recovery and rebirth of spirit, (2) reconcile wounds, differences, rivalries, prejudices, and hatreds, (3) resolve to understand the truth of the past, fix the present, and prepare for a better future; and (4) reinforce the resilience needed to rebuild an impoverished, post-colonial nation.

 

Benefits

There are currently some 1,700 students at the University of Ngozi. Our peace-building efforts will impact each of these students in every class they take throughout their college careers. Each new class of 400+ will enjoy a similar duel training in disciplinary case-based, problem-based, and project-based learning infused with peace building skills of improved communication, cooperation, conflict resolution, mediation and more. When they graduate, these students will move into various communities across this nation of approximately eleven million as well as into neighboring nations of Rwanda and Uganda. Once available on various websites and translated from English into French and Kirundi, these materials will also be accessible to other colleges and universities in Burundi as well as school systems nationally. Eventually, these materials should prove useful to faculty and school leaders around the world, especially those in areas emerging from conflict.

 

Responsibilities

Staff members and instructors at the University of Ngozi will draw from the four years of interviews, surveys, research and development that created a foundation for this work on sustainable peace and development, e.g., Timpson, Ndura, &. Bangayimbaga (2015) Conflict, reconciliation, and peace education: Moving Burundi toward a sustainable future. (New York, NY: Routledge). Testing will follow the principles laid out in ongoing research and development for case study learning as described in several published sources, e.g., Timpson, W. and D. K. Holman, Eds. (2014) Controversial Case studies for teaching on sustainability, conflict, and diversity. (Madison, WI: Atwood); Timpson, W., E. Brantmeier, N. Kees, T. Cavanagh, C. McGlynn and E. Ndura-Ouédraogo (2009) 147 practical tips for teaching peace and reconciliation. (Madison, WI: Atwood).

 

Goals

The project’s goals of supporting sustainable peace and development recognizes that without peace there will not be the foundation needed for community, economic and environmental health as reflected in the most popular definitions of sustainability. Likewise, without healthy communities, a healthy economy and a healthy land base, both cultivated and natural, the potential for peace will be uncertain. Our emphasis on training university instructors and teachers in the skills of peace-building—i.e., effective communication, cooperation, critical and creative thinking—will then be spread throughout the curriculum and across levels and disciplines as we link these to an emphasis on case-based, problem-based, and project-based learning, e.g., Timpson & Holman, Eds. (2011), Case Studies of Classrooms and Communication: Integrating Diversity, Sustainability, Peace and Reconciliation (Madison, WI: Atwood) as well as Timpson’s (2002) book, Teaching and Learning Peace (Madison, WI: Atwood). Once these materials are trialed at the University of Ngozi, they will be mounted on the University’s website for others to access in Burundi, both in higher education and local schools, as well as in neighboring countries and others world-wide who are also emerging out of conflict.

 

Evaluation

Instructors from the University of Ngozi (UNG) will be trained in case-based, problem-based, and project-based learning that emphasizes critical and creative thinking, cooperation and communication, i.e., the skills of peace-building infused into subject matter content studies. These instructors, in turn, will evaluate the impact of these reforms on their own students. These instructors will then lead efforts to train colleagues on campuses and in schools across Burundi as well as in surrounding region who come to the conferences that are hosted by this project at UNG. Instructors in the area of computer sciences will take the lead in facilitating communication about access to project materials at a distance via the University’s website.

 

January, 2017: Organize professional development conferences for instructors at all levels and across all disciplines, beginning with those at the University of Ngozi.

  • A conference on case-based learning infused with peace-building content and skills will be organized at UNG and lead by Professor Timpson.
  • Feb.-May: Subsequent conferences on case-based learning infused with peace-building content and skills will be organized and lead by instructors from UNG for instructors at other campuses as well as teachers in the region and beyond.
  • Jan.-May: Recruit instructors at the University of Ngozi in the various disciplines who would complete a second graduate online offering in the communication skills needed to support effective instruction.

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