Developing postgraduate studies in peacebuilding – in the DRC

The main aim of the workshop was for each of the six participating universities to develop a draft strategic plan to introduce postgraduate studies in peacebuilding. Subsidiary aims included promoting the use of participatory action research and building relationships between universities in the Great Lakes region.

The workshop was led by Professor Geoff Harris and Dr Chrys Kiyala from ICON, assisted by Dr Joseph Rukema from Sub-Saharan Africa University, Goma. There were 22 participants, 18 from five Congolese universities, two from a university in Burundi and two student observers from the Sub-Saharan University of Africa. One participant  – Theodore Mbazumutima – is a recent PhD graduate in Peacebuilding from DUT and another – Josephine Mauwa Kimanu – is a current PhD student with DUT.

Several aspects of the workshop are worth noting:

  • We used a participatory and experiential learning approach. Some lectures were necessary but the best learning, we feel, took place in small groups as participants wrestled with the issues and came up with promising insights.
  • We did not prescribe how peacebuilding programmes should be organised. This can happen in a number of ways and we were aware that many factors will influence the choices which any university will make.
  • We encouraged  the use of participatory action research, an approach with which ICON has particular expertise, and helped participants to develop draft plans of how they might set up their own peace programme and the shape these might take.

We were delighted that on the last day the Rector of La Sapientia Université Catholique, who had attended much of the workshop, committed his university to coordinate future cooperation between the five universities and with DUT. It is very likely that three of the participants will commence PhD studies with ICON in 2020. Overall, we are confident that the workshop will act as a springboard for efforts to develop a culture of peace in the region.

The workshop was funded by a grant from the NRF’s KIC Africa Interaction programme and enjoyed generous hospitality from La Sapientia Université Catholique.