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Communication, Conflict and Culture in Ireland


Inch Island, Derry, Dublin, Belfast, Ireland, Northern Ireland

Program Description

Students enrolled in this 6-credit program explore the culture and communities of Ireland and Northern Ireland in order to reflect on the communication of conflict and conflict resolution in the Irish context.  In weeks prior to departure, students receive on-line instruction and reading assignments that promote the analysis and discussion of conflict from a communication perspective; an introduction to the social and political tensions of Northern Ireland's past and present; and resources for orientating to cultural norms, communication style, and customs of Ireland.  While in Ireland and Northern Ireland, students meet with professors and experts of Irish history and culture, media and business professionals, and members of local communities so as to learn more about the social and political conflict often referred to as "The Troubles."  Students are thus presented with enriched and on-site learning experiences for reflecting on how social tensions can often be understood in terms of how people communicate about conflict. Of equal importance, students will have opportunities to explore the beautiful geographies of these ancient lands, enjoy folk traditions and local fare, and interact with members of communities so as to dispel common American stereotypes of Irish culture and conflict, and come to a greater understanding of the histories and diversity of cultures in Ireland.  Because of the short duration of the visit while in Ireland, writing assignments necessary for the fulfillment of both courses will be submitted on-line at a prescribed due date after return to the United States.

Location Description

The Inch House, Irish Studies Center serves as our primary host and home for accommodations, guest lectures, and thoughtful discussions reflecting on excursions to nearby sites.  Built in the 1600's and set in green fields overlooking a bay, the quaint and historic Inch House is only a 15-minute drive from Derry, the second largest city in Northern Ireland.  Within this ancient, walled city, we will be taken on guided tours of historic sites, churches, and museums, and enjoy local fare and entertainment.  Day visits to the cities of Omagh and Belfast offer an opportunity to learn how communities attempt to remember, heal, and rebuild from tragic violence through memorials, folk traditions, and social media.  Visit's to Inishowen, County Donegal and Giant's Causeway, County Antrim allow us to witness how communities try to manage the tension between disappearing manufacturing industries, a growing tourism industry, and preserving surrounding ancient lands and beaches.  We begin and conclude the program in Dublin where we will stay in local university dorms or a city hotel.  There we will have opportunities to prepare for and reflect upon our experiences and encounters in Northern Ireland, and enjoy guided tours, museums, and free time.  Expect the daily weather to be cool and possibly wet (with highs in low to mid 60s/lows in the 40s and 50s), the natural settings to be beautiful, and the people to be friendly.


Peter Bsumek | | School of Communication Studies

Katey Castellano | | English


Accommodations will be largely provided at the Inch House Irish Studies Center, with the exception of a stay in a hotel or college residence housing while in Dublin. Accommodations at the Inch House include daily breakfast and most dinners. Transportation to and from sites is arranged by the Inch House as part of the program fee.

While at the Inch House daily breakfast and most dinners are provided by the Inch House. A meal stipend will be allocated to students for meals not provided by the Inch House. Likewise a meal stipend will be provided for all meals while in Belfast and Dublin.

Additional Items to Consider

Students should plan to arrive and meet at the Dublin Airport on June 1. From there our group will take city transportation to accommodations in Dublin. Travel to the Inch Island will be provided by the Inch House (it is a 3 hour drive to the Inch House from Dublin). All remaining travel within Ireland will be by coach or bus; we will not be traveling by air while in Ireland. While passports are necessary for international travel to Ireland, visas are not required for short visits between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The currency in Northern Ireland is the British Pound (Derry, Belfast); the currency of the Republic of Ireland (Dublin) is the Euro. Because Derry is on the border with the Republic of Ireland (Donegal, Inch Island) most businesses in Derry accept Pounds or Euros. While at Inch House meal stipends will be allocated in Pounds. While in Dublin, meal stipends will be allocated in Euros.

Wi-Fi is free at the Inch House, and typically available at most other locations. It is possible to get international roaming on U.S. cellular phones for Ireland, but can be costly. You should see your cell phone provider for more details.

We will be walking on cobblestone during many of our city tours and some rugged terrain during excursions to Inishowen and Giant's Causeway and other and historic areas, so recommend bringing sturdy, comfortable shoes.

There are no required immunizations.

Finally, a large portion of our program at the Inch House focuses on how conflict and conflict resolution is communicated and experienced in contexts of Northern Ireland. In addition to academic discussion on these topics, some guest speakers will offer first hand accounts of their personal experiences. These stories are often tragic and can be quite moving. Your instructors and the Inch House staff will help prepare you for these encounters. While some students may find some stories to be unsettling, there is probably no better way to truly understand the real implications of conflict, and the complexities of conflict resolution than by listening to and reflecting on these first-hand accounts.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

This program is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about the culture and history of Ireland. It is also very well suited for students with an interest in studying the dynamics of conflict and the processes of conflict resolution from any number of perspectives or approaches including: cultural and interpersonal communication, justice studies, advocacy, community building, multiculturalism and diversity, religion, politics, and diplomacy.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

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Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


SCOM 395: Study Abroad Seminar (3 credits)

SCOM 413: Advanced Topics in Communication Studies: Communication, Conflict, and Identity (3 credits)

ENG 221: Literature of the Troubles in Northern Ireland

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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