Join us for a trip through lush glens and along the rugged coastline of Ireland, North and South. With stays in urban Dublin, Derry, and Belfast, and excursions to the Hill of Tara, the Antrim Coast, and Donegal areas where Gaelic is still a first language, we will witness—through visual art, music, poetry, story and even political testimony—how the primary cultural, social and political life of this island is bound up in the esteemed position of the Storyteller. This Dialogue will look at the role of storytelling in both the landscape and the contested identities of “Northern Ireland,” in particular. The dialogue will be informed by an understanding of the social, political and geographic history of Ireland and the role of story in establishing political and social world-views in a colonized country. Students will read and write about, and discuss the social, political and geographic history of the island of Ireland, north and south, with an eye on colonization, trauma and recovery, and the role of storytelling as a way to make sense of one’s world, to connect with one another and to the bigger picture, as well as its role in asserting pride and resistance or power and dominance.

Application Procedure

  • Application Open: November 1, 2019
  • Application Deadline: December 3, 2019
  • Application Extension Deadline: January 15, 2020
Submit to GEO
  • GEO Application: All applicants must complete the GEO application. This is the first step for applying to any program.
  • $500 non-refundable deposit: Deposits must be paid through NUPay. Be sure to select the appropriate summer term.
  • Photocopy of Passport: This is to be given to your faculty leader after acceptance.
  • Essay Questions: Answer each question in 2-3 paragraphs (completed online via GEO application).
    • What are your personal and academic reasons for wishing to participate in this Dialogue of Civilizations program?
    • How will the program further your academic and career goals?
    • What is your previous travel and language experience, if any?
    • What courses have you taken which are directly relevant to the program?

Applications are not considered complete until deposit is received. This deposit will be applied to the full cost of the program.

Update My Travel Plans on myNortheastern
Once you have been accepted into the program and your the flight and accommodation details have been shared with you, you are required to create an entry in My Travel Plans for the trip. Please be sure to enter the following pieces of information:
  • Personal and Emergency Contact Info
  • HealthTravel Info: Dates, flight and accommodation details, etc.
  • Passport Details: Passport number, Expiration date, Passport Country of issue, etc.

Please refer to this step-by-step user’s guide for directions on how to navigate the My Travel Plans system.

Should you fail to complete this step as directed, you may be prevented from traveling, may not receive credit for courses, and/or may be excluded from participating in other Northeastern global programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Studying abroad requires a valid passport. You may also need a visa and/or other travel documents. It is your responsibility to ensure that all your documents are valid and appropriate to the nature of your program.

Minimum Requirements
  • Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.00
Other Requirements
  • Honors: Must be an Honors student in good standing.

Courses

In Course 1, we will look at the role of storytelling in the development of voice and agency and will get an in-depth look at what telling one’s story does for the individual telling it as well as for the community impacted by the telling. We will look at the outward rippling effects that story has on community change. We will study Boston’s restorative justice movement (which is rooted in storytelling circles), hear from parallel activists and artists in Derry who work at the intersection of justice and healing, and work with young leaders in both places who are finding and using their voices to transform self and community.

Telling one’s truth, or story, in a non-hierarchical “circle” is an age-old practice used in indigenous cultures whether Native American, Aborigine, or Gaelic. These days, as one of many techniques for restorative justice, storytelling circles work toward consensus resolutions which provide justice and healing that prove to go beyond anything the adversarial and punitive criminal justice system has achieved in the lives of victims, offenders, and their communities.

In Course 2 we will go from Derry to Belfast, North of Ireland, where we will study the larger history of “the Troubles” and the competing narratives of both the war and the ongoing peace process. We will place emphasis not only on the war (and narratives) between Loyalist paramilitaries and the Irish Republican Army but on the role of the British colonial state. We will look at both the “Master Narrative” of the British state in these years as well as the counter narratives being told and often proven in the courts by victims of British State collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries. We will meet, and hear the stories of, major players in the republican movement including 1981 hunger strikers, political representatives, and peace builders in the lead up to the 1994 ceasefire and 1998 Good Friday Agreement. We will meet, and hear the stories of, Unionist political representatives as well as former paramilitaries from the Loyalist community. To balance the intensity of the narratives, we will explore Irish notions of craic (fun) and the role of the story (and humor!) in resilience from trauma.
We will take excursions to the Antrim Coast and to South Armagh and will look at landscape as narrative (both in terms of bloodshed and healing). And we will explore the role of arts, culture and the native Irish language in the resilience and rebirth of post-conflict Belfast. As the most crucial aspects to the present and future of the peace in the North of Ireland, we will hear the stories of victims and survivors of “the Troubles” and meet with activists and lawyers pursuing truth inquiries and advocating for a larger Truth and Reconciliation process that is both Independent and Internationally monitored.

Students who have taken this dialogue and similar embedded programs run by Michael MacDonald come from a variety of majors with diverse educational goals. As a result of exposure to these, some students have decided to pursue an educational path that involves work in the North of Ireland. Although this is the extreme case, other students have found that this positively impacts not only their academics, but their lives: “I feel like a different person,” “This experience made me rethink the way that I see the world,” and “This dialogue has given me perspective on my own quality of life.”

In order to become well versed in the layered and sometimes contradictory cultural signifiers in the north of Ireland, students will learn–through lectures, collective dialogues, interactive classroom exercises and specific journaling prompts about self and community identity–how to closely read, see, hear and interpret narratives presented in multiple genres (books, plays, poetry, oral storytelling, music, film, and the omnipresent wall murals of Derry and Belfast). They will learn what it means to “read” the recurring mystical motifs of ancient stone engravings as well as the more identifiable archetypal references on Pagan artifacts, and the biblical pictorials of Early Medieval Christian high crosses, as narrative in intent as today’s graphic novel. Ultimately, students will become thoroughly familiar with the top-down narrative of Imperial might evident in British Colonial architecture in Ireland as well as its impact, including the bottom-up “people’s history” responses by the native Irish. Doing so, students will learn to not only examine this historical cultural layering, they will learn to formulate their own inquiries about how each of the historical layers plays a role in current post-colonial, post-conflict society in the north of Ireland. This awareness will sharpen students’ overall cultural competency.

  • HONR3309 - The Power of Storytelling in Building Voice, Agency and Community : (Engaging Difference and Diversity (DD) NUpath and Interpreting Culture (IC) NUpath) Course 1 will look at the role of storytelling in both the landscape and the contested identities of “Northern Ireland,” in particular. In Course One, we will look at the role of storytelling in the development of voice and agency. By studying Boston’s restorative justice movement (which is rooted in storytelling circles), and working with parallel activists and artists in Derry who work at the intersection of justice and healing, as well as with young leaders in both places, finding and using their voices to transform self and community, we will get an in-depth look at what telling one’s story does for the individual telling it, as well for the community impacted by the telling. We will look at the outward rippling effects that story has on community change. Telling one’s truth in non-hierarchical “circle” is age old practice used in indigenous cultures whether Native American, Aborigine, or Gaelic. These days it is being used as one of many techniques for restorative justice storytelling circles, working toward consensus resolutions for justice and healing that prove to go beyond anything the adversarial and punitive criminal justice system has achieved in the lives of victims, offenders, and their communities. In Boston, students will meet people spearheading such efforts. In addition, we will look at the role of local arts and performance projects that are engaged in restorative storytelling practices without even naming it such. The line of questioning we will take in this part of the course is: In what way is personal testimony a kind of personal de-colonization for marginalized people, whose stories are often told or interpreted by those of more privilege and power? In Dublin and Derry: Irish culture is known for its high esteem for story and for the storyteller. Historically, in ancient Ireland, the Bard was of highest status. In spite of the British colonial targeting of the bard–considered dangerous by colonial authorities and by the English Queen Elizabeth I–and the systemic cultural cleansing that was committed upon the island, the Irish Bard remains of highest status. One only need to look at footage of the national mourning that took place upon the recent death of poet Seamus Heaney to see evidence that Ireland still places the Bard in the position that Empires might reserve for a monarch. Course 1 will examine that role from Dublin to Derry (including its rural environs), from the ancient indigenous culture, through the period of British colonization and the killing of the bards, the uprooting of natives and plantation of the landscape with settlers loyal to the British Crown, all the way through to the role of story in 20th Century Derry which was a flashpoint for the thirty year conflict known as The Troubles. One cannot spend a day in contemporary Derry without hearing the stories, poems, songs or seeing the murals (stories painted on the walls) and understanding that story is everything on this island. Finally, looking at the post-conflict period we are currently in, we will see how this island-wide tradition of Storytelling impacts the stories told today, and the contested identities of a contested landscape.
  • HONR3309 - Dealing with the Past; The Role of Storytelling in Working Toward Peace and Reconciliation : (Writing Intensive in the Major (WI) NUpath and Understanding Societies and Institutions (SI) NUpath) Course 2 This Dialogue will look at the role of storytelling in both the landscape and the contested identities of “Northern Ireland,” in particular. Course Two will bring us from Derry to Belfast, North of Ireland, where we will study the larger history of “the Troubles,” and the competing narratives of both the war and the ongoing peace process. We will place emphasis not only on the war (and narratives) between Loyalist paramilitaries and the Irish Republican Army but on the role of the British colonial state. We will look at the “Master Narrative” of the British state in these years, and counter narratives being told and often proven in the courts by victims of British State collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries. We will meet, and hear the stories of, major players in the republican movement, including 1981 hunger strikers, political representatives, and peace builders in the lead up to the 1994 ceasefire and 1998 Good Friday Agreement. We will meet, and hear the stories of, Unionist political representatives as well as former paramilitaries from the Loyalist community. To balance the intensity of the narratives, we will explore Irish notions of craic (fun) and the role of the story (and humor!) in resilience from trauma. We will take excursions to the Antrim Coast and to South Armagh and will look at landscape as narrative (both in terms of bloodshed and healing). And we will explore the role of arts, culture and the native Irish language in the resilience and rebirth of post-conflict Belfast. Most crucially to the present and future of the peace in the North of Ireland, we will hear the stories of victims and survivors of The Troubles, and meet with activists and lawyers pursuing truth inquiries and advocating for a larger Truth and Reconciliation process that is both Independent and Internationally monitored.

Cost

Northeastern Tuition: Summer term tuition as published by Northeastern
Dialogue of Civilizations Fee: $3,500
  • DOC Program fee includes accommodations for program duration, international round-trip airfare from Boston, international security and emergency support, and program related expenses (local transportation, field trips, excursions and group meals). Students earn eight Northeastern credits and are responsible for tuition. Eligible Honors students will have their DOC fee covered.

Additional Expense - Meals and Incidentals: $1,345-2,000
  • Students should anticipate spending this estimated amount during the program for meals and incidentals.

    If necessary, students may incur additional fees for visa costs and travel to consulates or embassies to obtain the visa. If you have questions about costs you may incur while participating in this program, please ask your GEO advisor.

GEO offers scholarships and grants for students studying abroad on Dialogue of Civilizations programs. Please visit our Scholarships page for more info!

Resources

Additional Resources

Destination

In this Dialogue we will visit many areas in the North of Ireland and cover a nice balance of both the countryside and the city. We will take short excursions to some places and, in Derry and Belfast we will spend enough time for you to settle in and feel at home. On the smaller side, Derry is a great walking city while Belfast has everything a larger city has to offer. We’ll also spend five nights in Dublin in a hotel that was a beautiful Georgian building that is directly across from St. Stephens Green as well as right in the middle of shopping, restaurants and free museums.

Accommodations

  • Hotels & Hostels: In addition to Staunton on the Green where we will stay for three nights when we arrive in Ireland, we will also stay at their sister hotel, Number 31. We will stay one night at the Yeats Country Hotel and Spa in Sligo which is right on the water. From there, we will spend three nights at Teach Campbell in Gweedore where you will be able to see lambs bouncing around in the back yard and where you will have a wonderful precooked meal. In Derry we will have the run of two large B&B’s, Saddler House and Merchants House which is right in the heart of the city. Finally, the Botanic Rest in Belfast is beautiful and busy Botanic Avenue which borders Queens University Belfast. Most importantly, there’s a laundromat right across the street. Breakfast will be included for all but three mornings. There will also be some group dinners that will be covered for by the Dialogue.

Host University or Organization

This dialogue does not use a study abroad company. Because Michael MacDonald has been doing work in Ireland and in the North of Ireland for over twenty years, he as developed relationships with the people and organizations central to the topics in the courses that are covered in this dialogue. Students will meet with local poets, writers, musicians, hunger strikers, surviving family of those killed during the Troubles, and those at the forefront of the language rights movement.

Faculty Advisor
Advisors