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Vision in the Balkans

The Balkans Semester for the Study of War and Peace is an interdisciplinary, humanities based program centered around the themes of war and peace, conflict and reconciliation. The program will provide students a unique opportunity to study these themes while learning first-hand from people on both sides of recent wars and genocides who are grappling daily with problems of justice and forgiveness and with navigating a path toward sustainable peace.

Croatia, along with Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina will serve as the backdrop for the exploration of these issues and for asking questions such as: What is the essence of peace? What events and attitudes lead to war? How can a society recovering from war hope to establish lasting peace? What is a Christian response to war? And how might we formulate a distinctively Christian understanding of reconciliation?


  • To allow students to explore the themes of war, peace and reconciliation while living in a society currently recovering from recent wars, struggling for lasting peace, and attempting to fashion for itself a post-war identity.
  • To engage in a collaborative investigation of these themes through study of relevant historical, literary, philosophical, socio-political and theological texts, and through interaction with local and international scholars and practitioners.
  • To examine the role of religion in local conflicts and to enable students to wrestle with the complexities of peace-making through interreligious dialogue.
  • To challenge students to consider their own place and role in the apparatuses that contribute to war and peace, and to provide avenues for a more concerted and thoughtful engagement with societal and political forces that dominate or emancipate their subjects.
  • To encourage students to formulate an informed, Christian response to war, and to work to promote a Christian understanding of peace, both in their personal lives and on a global, social and political scale.

"This program provides a unique platform for studying not only the specific cultural, religious, and political topics related to the Balkans, but also for developing broader concepts and models applicable to multicultural or conflict-ridden areas with diverse ethnic and religious populations, transitional political systems, and a variety of traditions.

Its richness is evident in the broad range of topics it covers as well as in the inclusion of a strong theoretical background. It holds promise of bringing together some of the best experts on this area in a ‘hands on’ environment that will expose students to real life issues and immerse them in the culture."

Aida Vidan, Harvard University (Student programs coordinator, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University Instructor for Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian; Co-chair, CES’s Southeastern Europe Study Group)

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