CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program


Program Description

In this three-week professional and academic training program, you’ll learn the core ideas and practices of conflict transformation. The program takes place on SIT Graduate Institute’s campus in Brattleboro, Vermont, and is led by a diverse group of internationally recognized faculty with years of applied, classroom, and research experience. This group includes SIT faculty, professional peacebuilders, and faculty from the international NGO Musicians without Borders, who are working in partnership with SIT.

The program’s philosophy is that conflict transformation training is most effective when it combines skills-based academic instruction with personal interaction between peacebuilders across ethnic, national, religious, and cultural divides. You and your fellow CONTACT participants will learn from one another and your instructors in an intensive format following an experiential learning model. Typically, peacebuilders from at least 15 countries participate in the program.

Among the topics explored are conflict analysis, social identity and conflict, peacebuilding interventions, post-conflict reconciliation, intercultural communications, gender and peacebuilding, mediation, negotiation, dialogue, policy advocacy, the arts and peacebuilding, non-violent social action, and monitoring and evaluation.

2019 Program Dates

June 3–21, 2019


The Summer Peacebuilding Program includes the following components:

  • Professional training and workshops to develop knowledge, skills, and awareness around key concepts in peacebuilding and community development
  • Cultural events to share CONTACT’s diverse participant experiences with the community

Learning Goals

  • Knowledge of foundational theories of intercultural community, identity development, conflict transformation, reconciliation processes, restorative practice, peacebuilding and development, non-violent social action, and trauma and resilience
  • Skills in areas such as dialog, mediation, negotiation, training and facilitation for peace education, and arts-based program design
  • Awareness of how personal and social identities impact conflicts and peacebuilding practice
  • Attitudes of courage, curiosity, rehumanization, intercultural understanding, and inclusion


Week One

During the first week of CONTACT, you will explore, with faculty, a range of themes and ideas in conflict transformation and peacebuilding, including:

  • conflict analysis and conflict transformation
  • peacebuilding through the arts
  • gender and peacebuilding
  • global trends in violence and conflict
  • nonviolent communication
  • intercultural communication
  • identity and conflict
  • activism and social movements
  • stereotyping, dehumanization, and discrimination
  • peace education

All content is presented using experiential education methodologies by which you will engage in direct experience and reflection through small group discussions, innovative exercises, and peer-to-peer sharing.

Week Two

During the second week of CONTACT, you will have a choice of participating in one of three electives. Choices include:

Musicians without Borders’ Training of Workshop Leaders
Instructor: Musicians without Borders staff

This elective is open to musicians with interest or experience in leading community music workshops. The course covers pedagogical, didactic, and musical skills related to the five principles of Musicians without Borders’ community music training methodology: safety, inclusion, equality, creativity, and quality. You will also learn their approach to nonviolence in their work. The course offers hands-on experience in leading activities, including body percussion, drumming, singing, movement, and songwriting, as well as the opportunity to facilitate a group workshop at the end of the week.

Strategies for Change Agents
Instructor: Dr. Bruce W. Dayton

This hands-on elective will introduce you to a method for diagnosing the causes of conflicts of all types and a framework for designing effective change projects to address them. Each student will work on a particular problem / challenge that they are concerned with and present and defend a change initiative, which they design with the help of the instructor.

Experiential Design and Social Action Training
Instructor: Dr. Ryland White

This elective focuses on the basic components of training design as applicable to experiential and adult learning. Design work will be grounded in the context of social action training and cultural relevancy. The components of training design, including methodologies and techniques, will be highlighted. Experienced trainers are welcome, as well as those new to the field of training. The elective is appropriate for anyone interested in building their skills in training as part of peacebuilding and other related fields.

Week Three

During an optional third week of CONTACT, you may travel with the group to Washington, DC, for a traveling field seminar. You will stay in a dorm at George Washington University and spend your days interacting with and getting training from conflict, peace, and justice experts at three institutions: The United States Institute of Peace, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and World Learning. Topics will include intergroup dialogue, working with peace organizations, and policy advocacy.

For-Credit Option

You may, for an additional cost, take the CONTACT program for credit. If you choose this option, you will complete additional work such as a journal or research paper.


Participants of this program return to their communities with new skills to allow them to conduct peacebuilding work.

After attending CONTACT, I became more moderate and enlightened in my thoughts and no longer think the way I had about certain issues. CONTACT gave me skills to promote peace and nonviolence, which I couldn't previously do despite having a deep desire to do so.

Aamir Gamaryani, Pakistan, CONTACT participant


We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom. To be considered for admission to this program, you must meet the following criteria:

Selection Criteria and Application Process

The CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program is designed for working professionals who want to further their skills and knowledge in peacebuilding. Participants hail from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences and over the years have represented more than 60 different countries. Alumni of the CONTACT summer program are working globally with a variety of local and international NGOs; local, state, and national governments; community and youth organizations; religious and cultural institutions; and media organizations.

Criteria for acceptance into the program include professional experience, academic ability, career goals, cross-cultural experiences, and ability to work well with others. A variety of methods may be used to assess these qualities, including an essay, your resume, and in some cases a personal interview.

Apply online to the CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program. Please submit the following materials via your online application.

  • Your résumé or curriculum vitae in English
  • An essay of approximately 500–750 words responding to the prompt below.
    Everyone has their own philosophy about conflicts, that is, why they emerge, how to manage them, and what roles they play in social relationships, in social settings, and in politics. Write a brief overview of your own conflict philosophy. In addition to describing your philosophy, include information about the important people or events that have shaped your view and how/whether it has changed over the years.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English and who did not attend an undergraduate institution at which the language of instruction was English must provide documentation that will demonstrate their English language acquisition (courses attended, tests given, etc.). If the admission reviewers consider that there is further evidence needed, we will contact you for a phone or a Skype interview. If you have taken and passed the TOEFL or IELTS exams, please upload copies of your test scores to your online application.


A limited number of competitive scholarships are available to participants of the CONTACT program. These scholarships cover only tuition expenses, and do not cover room, board, transportation, visa fees, or other personal expenses. Participants are encouraged to seek out funding sources within their own communities or organizations to cover the cost of participation.

Last updated Mar 2019

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About the School

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master's degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainab ... Read More

SIT Graduate Institute offers internationally focused master's degrees, certificates, and professional development programs in the fields of conflict transformation, international education, sustainable development, and TESOL. Since 1964, SIT has been preparing professionals to be successful in intercultural and international environments. Read less
Brattleboro , Washington , Oaxaca , Johannesburg + 3 More Less