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SIT Uganda & Rwanda Peace & Conflict Studies

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Kigali, Rwanda and Gulu, Uganda



Program Features

Affiliated Program


- 2.5 GPA

- Good academic and disciplinary standing

- Emotional maturity

- Knowledge of French is not required but students with a background in the language will have opportunities to use it on the program

Application Due:


Downtown Kigali

SIT Study Abroad offers more than 60 accredited semester and summer study abroad programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. SIT also offers the International Honors Program, which is multi-locational.

The SIT Experience

  • Rigorous academic programs through a field-based, experiential approach
  • Undergraduate research through an Independent Study Project
  • Cultural immersion through fieldwork, language classes, and urban and rural homestays with local families
  • A small group of students in each program, supported by SIT faculty and staff, homestay families, in-country experts, and community members
  • Access to SIT's extensive local resources and networks
  • A commitment to reciprocity as the foundation of our educational philosophy

Peace and Conflict Studies

Explore the social, political, and psy­chosocial processes that precipitated genocide in Rwanda and the emergence of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. Examine the history, contemporary politics, and role of the state in the formation and mitigation of each conflict. More than that, consider how these cases can inform our understanding of conflict causation and mitigation in Africa and elsewhere.

Move beyond conventional rhetoric about the 1994 Rwandan genocide to better understand causes, consequences, and current prospects for peace. The Rwandan genocide resulted in the deaths of nearly 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a span of 100 days. The intensity of the violence and the extent to which survivors and perpetrators live side by side today provide a unique case study on genocide causation, prevention, and mitigation. Consider explanations for the genocide and what they illuminate about the possibilities and limitations of human nature, global institutions of governance such as the United Nations, and the contemporary modern state.

Visit field sites and communities in urban and rural areas of Uganda and Rwanda, including refugee settlements in Uganda and genocide memorials in Rwanda, and witness ongoing resettlement and reconciliation efforts in the Lake Victoria Basin region. Meet with leaders of civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations working in conflict mitigation, resolution, and prevention to learn what they’re doing.

Key topics of study include:

  • History, politics, and geography
  • Economic development, health, and society
  • Gender, women's empowerment, and development
  • Natural resources, the modern state, and political conflict
  • Models of eco-tourism, conservation, and natural resource management
  • Land rights and food security

For more information, see SIT's webpage.

SIT Academic Program

boats in the river

Interdisciplinary Seminars

Thematic seminars merge student experience with academic theory to examine critical issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn from SIT faculty as well as guest lecturers from local universities, research institutes, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and community and professional associations. Field-based activities and assignments complement readings, discussions, and research papers, allowing students to engage in a variety of study methods.

Intensive Language Study

Programs typically offer language study at the intermediate and advanced levels and/or beginning instruction in a less commonly taught language spoken by the local community. Language courses incorporate formal classroom instruction, discussion, and field exercises designed to enhance student engagement while improving oral and written competence. Select programs are taught entirely or partly in the target language.

Research Methods and Ethics

Students learn appropriate methodologies that prepare them to undertake fieldwork on topics connected to the program’s theme and specific cultural context. Students develop research skills and approaches including cross-cultural adaptation and skill building; project selection and refinement; contact and resource cultivation; observation and interviewing skills; gathering, organizing, and presenting findings; and maintaining a field journal. Students also examine the ethics and impact of their research on local communities and are required to follow the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy, which serves as an approval process and guide for ethical field study practices.

Independent Study Project (ISP)

Typically conducted during the last month of the semester, the ISP allows students to pursue original field-based research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The academic director advises each student on developing a project plan. Students also identify an ISP advisor who works with the student on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the student’s research project. Final projects generally include a 20- to 40-page paper and presentation to peers, academic staff, and interested members of the host community.

University of Iowa students who complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) must follow University of Iowa Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures. For more information on the Iowa IRB process please visit the Undergraduate Research Abroad webpage. An additional pre-departure orientation session, hosted by the Iowa IRB, will be offered on campus to help answer questions and ensure compliance.

Program Dates

For program dates, please consult SIT's webpage.

For More Information

Ryan Ourada
Study Abroad Advisor & Program Coordinator

Phone: 319-335-0353

The University of Iowa
International Programs, Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802

Kigali, Rwanda

Street in Kigali

Kigali is home to many commissions, organizations, and government bodies related to the program’s study of post-genocide restoration and peacebuilding. A major genocide memorial and information center is located in the neighborhood of Gisozi.

Kigali is a medium-sized modern city in which clear signs of a successful recovery from the devastating impact of the 1994 genocide are visible. However, parts of the city also reflect the poor living conditions many Rwandans still endure. Kigali’s neighborhoods stretch out over the many hills on which the city was built, which provide breathtaking views over the city and the surrounding valleys.

Gulu, Uganda

A city in Northern Uganda, Gulu is mainly inhabited by the Acholi people. During the 18th and 19th century, Northern Uganda was less developed and many inhabitants were conscripted into the army to fight in both World Wars. After independence in 1962, the situation in the North did not improve and rebel groups started by ex-soldiers began to form. In the 1990s, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) formed and overtime became increasingly violent in Gulu and surrounding communities.


Market in Kigali with colorful items

SIT places the highest priority on the health, safety, and security of all students. Through their 80-plus years of running international experiential education programs, they have developed sophisticated proactive and reactive risk management strategies. Their proactive risk management begins with in-country assessments of safety and continues through student orientation and emergency preparedness. Their reactive risk management strategies include 24/7 on-call availability, emergency/crisis response protocols, and comprehensive student insurance. Their structure also allows for rapid response and adjustment to changing situations.
Rwanda Travel Information
Uganda Travel Information

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

City view with building


This homestay gives you the opportunity to study community relations, development efforts, local governance, and reconciliation from the perspectives of victims, perpetrators, returnees, and survivors. The homestay experience contributes greatly to the thematic seminar. Homestays are spread throughout Kigali and tend to be with middle-class families. While there may be exceptions, you may expect to have access to most modern amenities, including a TV, flush toilets, and showers. Homestay siblings are likely to be attending one of the modern schools in the city.

Kigali is a modern city where high-rise buildings are interspersed with shanty housing, reflecting great income inequality. Roads are generally well paved and well lit, traffic flows smoothly, and street signs have recently been set up. Plastic packaging is not allowed in Kigali, and you should not pack any plastic bags with your luggage. You will travel to and from school on public transportation. During class days, you should expect to have your meals at local restaurants in town and close to the SIT office. On weekends, you are encouraged to have your meals at home, depending on the plans you make with your homestay family.


The second homestay takes place in Gulu, the urban heartland of the Acholi region. During this homestay, you will explore the Ugandan family structure and how it fits into conflict mitigation. You will also learn about Ugandans’ perceptions of conflict and its causes. You will have formal program activities during the week, but will spend weekends with your family. You may be invited to participate in cultural events, household chores, and other activities.

Gulu is a bustling northern Ugandan hub with a sizable NGO/expat community, banks, restaurants and hotels, street food, and roadside and evening markets. The town has a mix of rural and urban characteristics; hence, you may live in a home that has modern amenities such as a flush toilet, indoor shower, and cable TV, or you may live in a home that does not have these amenities. Family size also varies but is typically large. Gulu does not have public transportation, so you should expect to get to and from your homestay on foot.

During the week, you will have about half of your lunches served at the office and the other half at local restaurants in Gulu town. On weekends, you may have your meals at the homestay, depending on plans you make with your homestay family.

Educational Excursions

Road with bikes and trucks in Kigali

Rwandan Genocide Memorial

At the site of mass burial of the 250,000 victims of Kigali’s genocide, the Kigali Memorial Centre is a place for reflection and learning. Through exhibitions, videos, clippings, and quotes, the memorial explores the history and origins of genocide, the genocide’s impacts, the post-genocide period, and ongoing reconciliation and peace efforts in ways that transcend textbook descriptions. Many visitors to the memorial cite this as a life-changing experience.

Rural Communities in Northern Uganda

You will go on carefully prepared visits to rural communities in northern Uganda to experience the dynamics of post-conflict resettlement and recovery, the opportunities and challenges that are encountered at multiple levels, and how these opportunities are forged and challenges are mitigated. You will examine interactions between the government, civil society, NGOs, and local communities.

Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Western Uganda

Originally a refugee camp for the victims of the 1959 Hutu revolution, Nakivale now hosts thousands of Rwandans displaced during and after the 1994 genocide. Here you will hear voices and perspectives that often are neglected in mainstream discourse. The visit prompts discussion as to what gets left out, and why, in conflict and post-conflict narratives.

Travel Arrangements

Participants will make their own travel arrangements to Rwanda, taking advantage of any frequent-flyer options and/or internet specials available to them. The cost of travel is not included in the program fee. Information about airport pick up will be given at orientation. Students should book airfare to correspond with the arrival and departure dates provided by SIT.


Students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher and be in good academic and disciplinary standing. You must be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university at the end of the semester, too. If you are not in good standing at the end of the semester, your acceptance will be revoked and you will be responsible for the associated withdrawal fees.

Note: Emotional maturity is necessary, as studying genocide and its aftermath may be difficult and upsetting.


The UI cost sheet for this program is forthcoming. General cost information can be found on SIT's webpage.

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Upfront, out-of-pocket expenses

Some costs are incurred prior to departure and will be due before financial aid/scholarship disperse. Here are the expected upfront costs for SIT:

  • Iowa application fee: $50
  • Airfare: $1,000-$1,500
  • Passport: $135

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.

SIT automatically gives students from Big Ten institutions a $1,500 scholarship. There is no application necessary — the amount is automatically credited to your account. SIT offers additional awards that can be found on SIT's webpage.

Pell Grant Recipients will have their application fee waived by SIT, are eligible for additional SIT scholarships, and are competitive candidates for the Department of State's Gilman Scholarship. Please talk to your Study Abroad Advisor for more details.

Withdrawal policy

SIT's withdrawal policy can be found here: Withdrawal and Cancellation. After applying and being accepted students will then be asked to confirm their participation in the program. After confirmation, students are responsible for the following:

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
After submitting the Confirmation of Participation Study Abroad Administrative fee: $400
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT
Less than 30 days before the program start date Study Abroad Administrative fee: $400 or 50%, whichever is greater
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT
On or after the program start date Study Abroad Administrative fee: 100%
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Application Deadline

The application for this program is due on March 4.

How to Apply

You can find the application for this program on our website here: UI Study Abroad Application. Applicants must meet with a Study Abroad advisor before their application will be processed. You can schedule a meeting by calling 319.335.0353.

Participants must also complete the SIT application and complete all the application components by SIT's deadline. The SIT application can be found here: SIT Application.

Pre-departure Resources

SIT and the UI have a variety of resources available to you to prepare for departure. It is recommended that you review these materials, share them with your parents, and refer back to them if you have questions.

  1. SIT Pre-departure Guide
  2. List of books, documentaries, films, videos, and online materials related to AfricaPDF
  3. A Parent Guide to Study AbroadPDF
  4. Health Preparation Guide for International TravelPDF
  5. Iowa's SIT Pre-departure Orientation

Program Payment

You will be billed for the program on your U-Bill through the University of Iowa's billing office. Billing occurs the semester you're abroad and is due with the first U-Bill of the term. This allows for financial aid and scholarships to disperse BEFORE the bill is due.

Contact a Former Student

SIT has an excellent network of alumni available to help speak with prospective and admitted students. Find a returnee here: Contact a Former Student


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

Resources and Cultural Information

stacks of mattresses being carried by man

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