Balkans Border Expedition

Map of the proposed Balkans peace park

Through a 16-day accredited academic expedition led by IEDS Fellows Anna Grichting and J.Todd Walters, we are providing a unique learning opportunity, a cross-cultural experience, an introduction to their fields, and an overview of the dynamics involved in creating and managing an International Peace Park. Students are challenged with academic rigor through readings, journal entries, and a group project designed within an innovative experiential learning curriculum. Additionally, students will participate in meaningful cross-cultural interactions while cross-border trekking in remote alpine mountain landscapes. Students will hear guest lectures from experts, practitioners and professionals within diverse fields - addressing issues of sustainable forestry management, biodiversity surveys, eco-tourism plans, development and infrastructure planning, environmental conservation, water resource management, peacebuilding initiatives, and cross-border projects. At the culmination of the course, students will have a strong understanding of the multi-disciplinary issues that converge in International Peace Parks and a working recognition of the interplay between local communities, broader culture, international development, environmental conservation and peacebuilding initiatives. Students will have an opportunity to build a professional network before graduation, making connections in government agencies, international development agencies, as well as international, national, and local NGO’s working in related fields.

COURSE SECTIONS: Peace Parks: Definition, Objectives, Historical Evolution of the concept. Traditional Village Life, Cross Cultural Homestays, Village tour – water powered corn mill, waterfalls, archeological site, traditional water management, sustainable farming and cooking. Balkans Peace Park Summer School – visit with students, group discussion with volunteers, lecture from Program Director. Political History of the Balkans Region and Evolution of the Balkans Peace Park Peace Parks: A Tool for International Diplomacy, Environmental Conservation & Sustainable Development. Examining water resource sharing initiatives and their lessons. Peace Park Management Challenges and Best Practices: Conservation vs Development and Top-down approach vs Grassroots – is there a balance point? Where? Linking Theory, Policy and Practice - Sustainable Development Projects, Eco-tourism initiatives, Environmental Education, Coordinating Legal Frameworks and their implementation “Peak Moments: Experiential Peacebuilding” – on TriBorder Peak.

READ The National Geographic Blog article about expedition from 2011