Student Practicum Experience

 One of the highlights of the Conflict Analysis Dispute Resolution curriculum is the practicum experience.   In this course students undertake field work, internships and practice opportunities to bridge the gap between the theoretical and abstract learning gained in the classroom with real world concrete application.

 There are a number of reasons students undertake the practicum. The first is to seize the opportunity, while still in school to personally explore what a career in conflict resolution is like.  One of our students did his practicum and had such a great experience that he continued every winter and summer break getting more experience.  We typically received an e-mail from him in Kosovo and then perhaps a few weeks later from Israel telling us what he is learning “at ground zero."  Like other students who have made the practicum a stepping stone to top flight graduate programs, his hands on experience has made entry into the graduate program of his choice much more likely.  The second reason for the practicum is to apply and test the abstract theoretical material students grapple with in the classroom to real life experience in order to learn what works in some settings and not in others.  Another practical reason is for students to begin to create their own network from the field.  The practicum also acts as an energizer in the classroom.  Once students come back from their practicum they have concrete experience to link their course work too and this in turn serves to get other students geared up for their practicum experience.  Finally, the practicum is a chance to experiment with various intervention techniques, experience the up front “less glamorous” work involved in getting complex cases  to the table and other topics that are only talked about in the classroom.

 The practicum has been a huge success.  Students have started conflict resolution programs in schools  and local community organizations in various states and other countries.  They have attended world class seminars, worked in federal and state agencies, conducted research in conflict laden countries, worked with international police, UN agencies, world class conflict resolution and peace building NGOs and generally have exceeded the high expectations we have come to expect. The key to success has more to do with aligning student interests and passion to their practicum experience.  That formula works wonders as self motivated students are capable, regardless of age, of successfully undertaking impressive practicum projects.

 The following article, published in SU Magazine, provides details from six students’ practicum experiences in 2003-2004. As you will see their experiences aren’t typical and, for many it has been a life changing experience for not only the student but with the people they have worked with.  Click on the image below for  the corresponding article (.PDF). If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here to get it now.    

 Click on the images below for a larger view (.PDF).
The SU Today picture links to a small article about student practicum work (or click here). 
The middle pictures links to a full size image of the SU Magazine cover.
The link below (beyond the books) right includes the full article (or click here).
If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here to get it now.   


Individual Student Practicum Experiences

  • Kelley Donohue
    • Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden
      • I traveled throughout Europe in the summer of 2006 visiting different graduate Conflict Resolution programs in Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden. I took part in a first hand exploration of what makes these different programs unique according to the program’s professors. I also gathered information from the student perspective by speaking to students to learn what they are gaining by being in their particular programs. While traveling I also visited related peace and conflict organizations throughout Europe and gathered information on what types of conflict interventions and processes were used in different countries, as well as gaining an insight into the community and international programs these countries have helped set up and made available to the public.
      • My research will become an asset to future CADR majors here at Salisbury University, as well as a resource for the CADR staff and the Center for Conflict Resolution. Undergraduate and eventually prospective graduate students will be able to gain information on the various types of graduate programs and organizations in Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden. They will be able to refer back to portfolios with known contacts in Europe if they wish to study, travel, or do independent research of their own in different countries.
      • While traveling throughout Europe in the Summer of 2006, I feel I have grown up and learned quite a couple new things about myself, other people and their respected cultures, and about the world in general. It is through such events that I have come to learn how similar and how different every single one of us in the world appears to be. Traveling at such a young age is not only an experience I will never forget, it is also one that has helped me grow and mature as a young adult. Traveling has made such a difference in my life and I urge each Salisbury University student to spread their wings and see what the world has to offer them. You never know where you will end up.
  © Polkinghorn and La Chance, 2007