One of the highlights of the Conflict Analysis Dispute Resolution curriculum both Graduate and Undergraduate is the practicum experience. In this course students undertake field work, internships and practice opportunities to bridge the gap between the theoretical and abstract learning gained in the classroom with real world concrete application.
There are a number of reasons students undertake the practicum. The first is to seize the opportunity, while still in school to personally explore what a career in conflict resolution is like. The second reason for the practicum is to apply and test the abstract theoretical material students grapple with in the classroom to real life experience in order to learn what works in some settings and not in others. Another practical reason is for students to begin to create their own network from the field. The practicum acts as an energizer in the classroom. Once students come back from their practicum they have concrete experience to link their course work too, and this in turn serves to get other students geared up for their practicum experience. Finally, the practicum is a chance to experiment with various intervention techniques, experience the upfront “less glamorous” work involved in getting complex cases to the table and other topics that are only talked about in the classroom.
The practicum has been a huge success. Students have started conflict resolution programs in schools and local community organizations in various states and other countries. They have attended world class seminars, worked in federal and state agencies, conducted research in conflict laden countries, worked with international police, UN agencies, world class conflict resolution and peace building NGOs and generally have exceeded the high expectations we have come to expect. The key to success has more to do with aligning student interests and passion to their practicum experience. That formula works wonders as self-motivated students are capable of successfully undertaking impressive practicum projects. The following article, published in SU Magazine, provides details from six students’ practicum experiences in 2003-2004. As you will see their experiences aren’t typical and, for many it has been a life changing experience for not only the student but with the people they have worked with. Click on the images below for the corresponding articles.