In January 2010, fourteen students participated in the course titled ‘Challenges to Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone,’ and travelled to the country for two weeks.  Field research focused on work being done by NGOs and other peacebuilders to rebuild this war-torn country. Students studied a variety of issues such as: reintegration of ex-combatants, reparations for war-wounded, justice, trauma-healing for survivors and victims, governance, health, education and gender. Widespread poverty and unemployment were stark reminders of development as an important aspect of peacebuilding.  While some time was spent in the capital, Freetown, the group traveled to Makeni, Bo and Kenema where they met with  NGO workers, human rights activists, war wounded and war affected, amputees, diamond mine workers, and many other citizens from all walks of life. The trip also included visits to the diamond mines in Togo, a rural village outside of Kenema and the Special Courts of Sierra Leone.

The Catholic Relief Services was our host organization in Sierra Leone.


Program costs included board, lodge, local travel and administrative expenses.


Mawuor Dior                                                      Ben Mitchell
Robert Schroeder                                              Brittany Hill
Meredith Benton                                                Mary Magellan
Amanda Pope                                                   Heidi Zirtzlaff
Christine Williams                                              Rishna Gracie
Vernonica Beebe                                               Shauna Kelly
Sughey Ramirez                                                Deanna Tamborelli


Students maintained a blog for the duration of the trip and continued to write after their return.

Publications :

Pushpa Iyer:  Looking Forward: But What Does Sierra Leone’s Future Hold?

Pushpa Iyer: Development vs Peacebuilding: Overcoming Jargon in Sierra Leone. Africa
Peace and Conflict Journal, Vol. 4 Issue 1, 2011

Veronica Beebe: Sierra Leone: Will This Place Know War Again?

Mawuor Dior: Witnessing First-Hand: The Crux of Sierra Leone’s Conflict

Sughey Ramirez: Motorbike Riders in Sierra Leone: Menace to Society or Social Indicator?

Shauna Kelly: From War to Peacebuilding

Rishna Gracie: Sierra Leone’s Memory of a Violent Past

Amanda Pope: Surviving on Hope in Sierra Leone’s Isolated Camps

Deanna Tamborelli: Transitional Justice: The Need for a Multifaceted Approach

Christine Williams: Quiet Inequalities: Voices from the Women of Sierra Leone

Heidi Zirtzlaff: An Opportunity for Real Change: Building Peace in Sierra Leone

Ben Mitchell: Legacy of Exploitation in Sierra Leone

Mary Magellan: Media and Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone

Meredith Benton: Separate and Unequal: Sierra Leone’s Conflict with Tradition


INTERNATIONAL STUDIES ASSOCIATION (WEST)                                                                              September 2010
Panel: Diamonds, Disarmament and Development: Building Peace in post-war Sierra Leone

Pushpa Iyer, Chair and Discussant

Pushpa Iyer: Development vs. Peacebuilding

Brittany Hill: Poverty: An impediment to Sustainable Peace in Sierra Leone

Meredith Benton: Duelling Systems: NGO vs. National Interests in Sierra Leone

Mary Magellan: Reintegration and trauma healing: A look at local, national and
international programs in Sierra Leone

Veronica Beebe – How the inability to access justice is creating hostility in Sierra Leone

Panel Title: A Legacy of Exploitation and an Empowered Future: War and Peace in Sierra Leone

Pushpa Iyer, Chair and Discussant

Deanna Tamborelli: Transitional Justice: The need for a multifaceted approach

Shauna Kelly: Reintegration for Peace: Uniting Sierra Leone’s Divided Society

Paper Presentations:

Pushpa Iyer: Why Women Cut?:Understanding FGM in the context of building peace in
Sierra Leone