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COML 513: Advanced Topics in Communication

Peace-building Through Dialogue in Northern Ireland

Students will be introduced to concepts from the field of communication that enable an understanding of how local peace-building can build bridges across conflicting groups in deeply divided societies. Communication and dialogue are closely intertwined and together act at the heart of establishing shared space and creating a common future.

The Program At-A-Glance

  • Program type: Short-term, faculty-led program administered by Gonzaga University
  • Dates: Residency in Derry, Ireland: January 2-13, 2015.  Entire course pre- and post- via Blackboard: December 26, 2014 – January 26, 2015.
  • Eligibility: Graduate students in all majors with the approval of their Academic Advisor or Department Chair.
  • Subjects: Dialogue, Negotiation and Multi-Media Studies
  • Estimated Cost: $3,850 plus airfare
  • Cost includes: 3 credits graduate tuition, accommodations, some group meals, local group transportation, AirMed and International Student Identity Card.
  • Financial aid: Federal financial aid can be applied towards this program.
  • Program Application deadlines: Applications will be considered on a rolling admissions schedule. The program will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.  Application deadline for 2015 is October 15, 2014.

Course Description

The course will reflect on the causes and history of The Troubles (1969-1998) as well as the tortuous peace process following the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Based on that agreement, Northern Ireland’s devolved government finally became a reality in 2008. Local peacebuilding through dialogue is central to understanding how peace has been maintained.

Dialogue requires responsiveness which is made possible by qualities of thought and talk allowing transformation to take place: transformation in how people understand the self, the other and the societies they inhabit. These qualities of thought and talk include a willingness to risk change in one’s own perspective and a commitment to embracing others whose worldwide views may be different from and threatening to one’s own.

Note: COML 513 may be repeated twice for credit for 6 credits total.

Program Highlights

  • Meet with peace practitioners, former combatants and local leaders from both the Nationalist and Unionist communities in Northern Ireland
  • Walk the famous 17th century wall of Derry with an experienced local guide
  • Visit the Shankhill and Falls Road areas of Belfast, their murals, and “peace walls” with former combatants from the Nationalist and Unionist communities as guides
  • Hear first-hand how local peace leaders have created projects to work toward understanding and healing
  • Learn interviewing and facilitation skills for building dialogic practices.

John Caputo is Professor and Chair of the Master\’s Program in Communication and Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University and the Walter Ong S.J. Scholar. He founded the MA Program in 2004.  Dr. Caputo earned his Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate School and University Center.  His areas of expertise include communication theory, intercultural and interpersonal communication and media and social values.  He is the author of seven books and more than 25 articles in professional scholarly journals.  He has been honored as a Visiting Scholar In-Residence at the University of Kent at Canterbury, England.  Dr. Caputo directs the Gonzaga-in-Cagli Project, a cultural Immersion multi-media program in Italy each summer and has previously directed programs in Armagh, Northern Ireland. He has been honored with Master Teacher Awards by Western States Communication Association and the University of Texas at Austin and most recently received an Exemplary Faculty Award from Gonzaga University.

Ann Kelleher, Interim Executive Director of Gonzaga University\’s Center for Global Engagement, earned a Ph.D. in International Studies.  In her over 30 years of university teaching, Dr. Kelleher has taught courses relevant to analyzing international violent conflicts including international relations, international conflict resolution, local peacebuilding in Northern Ireland and war and peace: theoretical and historical analyses.  In 2011 she received the Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching from Pacific Lutheran University.  In addition, Dr. Kelleher has taught faculty-led study abroad courses in Albania, Namibia and Northern Ireland as well as facilitated groups to Jamaica, Thailand and Egypt.  In addition, she has developed programs in Ecuador and the United Kingdom.  Dr. Kelleher\’s relevant publications include “Religious Communities as Peacemakers: A Comparison of Grassroots Peace Processes in Sudan and Northern Ireland,” with Meggan Johnson, Civil Wars Vol. 10, No. 2, June 2008, 148-172.


Cost includes: Tuition for three credits, accommodations, some group meals, local group transportation, AirMed, and International Student Identity Card.

Passport must be valid for six months after the end of the study abroad program.

Application Process


Early Application is encouraged.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis up to the application deadline or until the program is filled.  Operation of this program is subject to administrative approval and is dependent upon meeting the minimum enrollment.

  1. Submit your completed Application Form along with $500 non-refundable deposit that is applied to the cost of the program.
  2. Provide an official copy of your Graduate Program standing; Gonzaga students do not need to submit a transcript.
  3. Upon receipt of these materials, your application will be reviewed by the Graduate Professional Studies Committee.  Upon notification of acceptance to participate in the course you will be sent a Financial Contract.  This Financial Contract needs to be signed and returned for your application to be considered.

Application Materials available online at:

Students document people making change.

Graduate students from across the USA meet in Derry, Northern Ireland to study concepts from the field of communication. These concepts enable an understanding of how local peacebuilding can build bridges across conflicting groups in deeply divided societies. Communication and dialogue are closely intertwined and together act at the heart of establishing shared space and creating a common future. Local peacebuilding through dialogue is central to understanding how peace has been maintained.

Program information subject to change.