This 7 credit field course (in Washington DC and the Balkans) will provide students with a unique, experiential learning opportunity in one of the last bio-diversity hotspots in Europe, a place where the legacy of the conflict of the 1990s is being overcome with entrepreneurship, ecotourism and environmental peacebuilding. Starting with three days in Washington DC, students will gain a foundational understanding of how environmental security thinking led to a focus on environmental peacebuilding. We will meet with some of our nation’s foremost scholars and policy analysts on environmental peacebuilding, sustainability and transboundary protected areas management including officials at the National Park Service Office of International Affairs, US Agency for International Development, Conservation International , the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and others. We will visit one of the Balkans Embassies and hear a presentation from the Ambassador about regional environmental cooperation and the value of international educational exchange.
Once we arrive in the Balkans the course will focus on: community driven sustainable development, cross border environmental conservation, eco-tourism and natural resource management. We will trek on the award-winning "The Peaks of the Balkans Trail," which literally links Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox enclaves, as well as Slavs and numerous Albanian tribes in three adjoining national parks, each showcasing the border region’s stunning natural beauty. Students will enjoy the phenomenal hospitality of the local people in all three countries through home stays. Students will experience the unique “highlander mountain culture” and its traditional organic farming and cuisine, music and dance, traditional clothing, centuries old architecture and rugged way of life. Students will climb cross border trails that were previously used by Roman soldiers and Kosovar refugees. Staying in ecotourism guesthouses with local families will afford the opportunity to meet and learn from the people who live the work of environmental peacebuilding every day .
Students will see first hand how the environment is harnessed as a tool to stimulate cross border cooperation between communities and countries; and how entrepreneurship and ecotourism are providing an alternative model for sustainable development and real world livelihood creation. The field-based experiences are accompanied by faculty lectures and guest lectures o n the international policy environment in Washington, DC and with park officials, community leaders, and experts in Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro.
This multi-dimensional study abroad program is d esigned for advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in environmental studies, sustainability, geography, community development, natural resource management, ecotourism , European history, and peace and conflict studies.
The study abroad program will be led by Dr. Geoff Dabelko, a leading expert on environmental peacebuilding and long-time program director at the Washington-based Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He joins Todd Walters, founder and executive director of International Peace Park Expeditions, who has led student experiential learning study abroad programs in the Balkans and Central America with a focus on transboundary conservation and peacebuilding.
Links to an article on the front page of the TRAVEL section of the New York Times highlights the route we will follow, The Peaks of the Balkans Trail, which won the World Tourism and Travel Council’s Award for Top Sustainable Destination in 2013. National Geographic posted photos and a write-up of our 2011 Expedition on their website. For a slide show of past IPPE-led study abroad programs to the Balkans, visit the IPPE.
TBD for Summer 2015
Eligibility and selection process
This program is open to all OHIO undergraduate and graduate students from all majors in good judicial standing. The minimum GPA is 2.5 for undergraduates and 3.0 for graduate students.
Students who have a judicial record and will be on probation for a judicial offense at any point during the program may petition to study abroad. Click here to read the entire judicial policy.
This program accepts applications from non-Ohio University students.
Students on this program will be housed in various accommodations throughout the program duration such as homestays (breakfast & dinner included), hotels (breakfast included), and cabins.
Courses and credits
Students will enroll in 7 credit hours during this program.
ES 4900 Special Topics: Environment, Peacebuilding & Security (3 credits)
ES 4910 Special Topics: Environmental Studies Leadership Experience (3 credits)
ES 4930 Independent Study in Environmental Studies (1 credit)
ES 5900 Special Topics: Environment, Peacebuilding & Security (3 credits)
ES 6910 Environmental Studies Internship (3 credits)
ES 6930 Independent Study in Environmental Studies (1 credit)
Additional Information on the Balkans
To learn more about this study abroad destination, please visit the CIA World Factbook.
Health and safety
Ohio University Office of Education Abroad suggests you follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control for healthy travel to your destinations:
Please familiarize yourself with the recommendations and requirements on the webistes above prior to applying to a program.
Refer to the Department of State site for information related to safety and security at these destinations: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html.
Requesting accommodation for disabilities
If you plan to participate in an Ohio University-sponsored study abroad program and wish to request accommodation, you should contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to schedule an appointment to complete an Education Abroad Disability Accommodation Request Form. We recommend you do this as early as possible to allow sufficient time to determine what accommodations may be made for this program.
Entry and exit requirements
U.S. citizens are required to have a valid U.S. passport when traveling outside of the United States.
If you plan to study or travel abroad in the next year, apply for your passport now: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.
Some countries also require a visa to legally enter and reside in the country. Entry and exit requirements for this country can be found at http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html.
US citizens do not need a visa to enter these countries for the length of this program. You may need to show sufficient funds to support yourself while in-country. Please also note that entry/exit requirements may vary if you plan to stay in the country longer than the program dates or travel to other countries during or after the program. Please familiarize yourself with these recommendations and requirements prior to applying to a program.
Information for NON-US citizens can be found here.
For more information on this program contact:
Dr. Geoff Dabelko
Director of Environmental Studies
Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs
The Ridges, Bldg 22 Rm 223
Office of Education Abroad
Yamada International House, 56 E. Union Street, Athens OH 45701 (740) 593-1840