SIT in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo: Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans
SIT Study Abroad offers a field-based, experiential approach to learning. Each program has a small group of students (typically 10–35). On an SIT program, students gain high levels of access to many different stakeholders and experts relevant to the issues the program is examining. While some learning will be conducted at the SIT program center, extensive learning is done outside the classroom — in host communities, field stations, company offices, NGO headquarters, ecological sites, health clinics, art studios, and other relevant spaces. Many students go on to use their Independent Study Projects as a basis for senior theses on their home campuses. Others use their internship, research, or overall study abroad experience to successfully apply for fellowships such as Fulbrights and Watsons.
Students will earn 16 credit hours for this semester program. Classes will be taught in English, but students will also be taking a Serbian language course. The set courses for the program cover topics related to:
- The “making and breaking” of Yugoslavia
- Peace and conflict studies: theory and practice in the Balkans
- Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo in the 1990s: international sanctions, the 1999 NATO bombing, the Dayton Agreements
- History, conflict, and post-conflict transformation in Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo
- International intervention and state building in the Balkans and current international interventions or lack thereof in Syria and Ukraine
- The democratization process, media pluralism, and media freedom
Please visit the SIT Study Abroad website for details on the program courses (including syllabi), educational excursions, and housing.
There is no "typical day"on an SIT program. Activities may take place on any day of the week and at any time of day to be in accordance with according to local norms and to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities. Thus, the schedule and structure of the program are likely very different from what students are used to on their home campuses. The semester progresses in phases:
The program begins with a thorough orientation.
During the first two and a half months of the program, students are engaged in foundational coursework, including:
- thematic seminars, including education excursions
- language instruction focused on improving practical communication skills
- a field research methods and ethics course that prepares students to conduct independent research.
For the last month of the program, students conduct an Independent Study Project (ISP) on an approved topic of their choosing. Students may also choose to complete an internship for this last month. Finally, students present their project, participate in program evaluations, and prepare to return home.
This SIT program provides the unique opportunity to complete a journalism related ISP, with some students even having their work published in places like The New York Times, USA Today, to name a few. Learn more about the Journalism track here on the Reporting Balkans site.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During the homestay, students become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program.
Students will live with a host family in Belgrade for seven weeks. Students who decide to pursue an independent project or internship in Belgrade can can extend your stay by four weeks. A homestay may be arranged in other locations during this period, as well.
In Belgrade, students will live with local families and may meet their hosts’ extended families in other parts of Serbia. Some homestay families have always lived in Belgrade while others have relocated to the city from other parts of the former Yugoslavia. Living with a host family greatly contributes to understanding of the realities and challenges facing the Balkans today and provides an excellent opportunity to improve language skills.
Other accommodations during the program could include guest houses or small hotels.
The program incorporates extended educational excursions to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, allowing students to witness the effects of international intervention and its aftermath in different settings. They will discover the ongoing efforts of various groups working to make the transition from conflict to new state-building processes and hear diverse perspectives on current realities and challenges.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: As a result of the 1995 Dayton Agreement, Bosnia was divided into two political entities: the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. Students will encounter different perspectives of the past and visions for the country’s future. During this excursion, they will focus on topics such as Islam in Bosnia, the role of memorials and commemorative events in post-conflict transformation, the role of the international community in Bosnia, and EU accession. Additionally, students will be introduced to post-Dayton realities and challenges and visit both Banja Luka and Sarajevo. During this period, they also may visit Mostar, famous for its ancient bridge reconstructed in 2004, following its destruction in the last war. Alternatively, students may visit the memorial site to victims of Srebrenica. They may also have the chance to visit the University of Banja Luka and meet with local students. They'll also enjoy the natural beauty of Bosnia-Herzegovina via a short hike to the Jajce waterfalls.
Kosovo: Kosovo declared unilateral independence in 2008, unrecognized by Serbia. During this excursion, students will visit Kosovo’s capital Prishtina and be exposed to the different realities and points of view regarding the present and future of the frozen conflict in Kosovo. They will witness the change of power relations in Kosovo, critically discuss issues relating to international intervention and the current presence of the international community in Kosovo, and experience firsthand the vibrancy and energy of a newly independent state. During this excursion, students will be hosted at the gender studies program at the University of Prishtina. Presentations by local organizations may focus on Albanian perspectives in the war in Kosovo, activism for self-determination, the role of memory and myths in the process of state building, and the role of the international community and organizations such as the UN, OSCE, and the current EULEX structures. Students may visit the ancient monastery in Visoki Decani / Deçan, taste the local rakija produced by the monks, and meet with Father Sava Janjic, also known as the cyber monk.
Please download this cost sheet for details on the estimate of costs for Fall 2018: SA SIT Serbia Fall18.pdf
As a reference, the estimated cost of attendance at Binghamton University during the 2017/2018 year was $26,100. Cost for one semester at BU was $13,050.
Federal and New York State financial aid is generally applicable to study abroad programs. The amount of financial aid that you may be eligible to receive is of an individual nature. All students should print out the above estimate of costs sheet, bring it to the Financial Aid office, and consult with a counselor there about what the implications of this cost would be for them individually. The Binghamton Financial Aid Services Office is able to consider only the application of students matriculated at Binghamton for degree study.
Binghamton, SUNY, and National Scholarships
Students applying for this program are highly encouraged to apply for:
Other scholarships may be applicable to you. For more information about scholarships through Binghamton, click here. For more information about scholarships through departments and SUNY, click here. And, for information on nationwide scholarships, click here.
SIT awards nearly $1.3 million in needs-based scholarships and grants annually. Awards generally range from $500 to $5,000. The SIT Pell Grant Match provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding when it is applied to an SIT Study Abroad semester program. Additionally, any Binghamton/SUNY student who is accepted to an SIT program that is approved by Binghamton University for a fall or spring semester will automatically be granted a $1,500 reduction in program cost! This reduction is already reflected in the cost sheet above.
When a student commits to an education abroad program in their Terra Dotta online program application, the Office of International Programs (IEGI) mirrors the Binghamton University Student Accounts refund policy for tuition, tuition differentials, and all program fees.
SIT Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo Homepage
SIT Balkans Program Facebook
Past Research Projects from SIT Balkans Program Participants
Published List of Works from Students on SIT Balkans Program