Peacebuilding in Colombia Academic Summer Program

Video and Photos

Monserrate
Monserrate
Monserrate
Monserrate
Playing the best and craziest sport ever called Tejo. You throw dynamite and I still don't know the rules.
The University campus

About

Apply now to take part in this prestigious program and explore the contemporary history of this fascinating country. 'Armed Conflict, Peace Processes and the challenges of Peacebuilding in Colombia' will be delivered by the Political Science department at Colombia's top university, Universidad de los Andes, in Bogota.

The course is open to undergraduate students from a range of arts and humanities subjects, and has three modules:

1. History of the Colombian Armed Conflict: from the 1960s to today
2. Peace negotiations in Colombia
3. Building a lasting Peace

The program also includes practical and sociocultural activities, such as site visits to cultural, governmental and educational organizations in Colombia, and additional social activities.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 36 reviews
  • Academics 9.4
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.6
  • Housing 9.5
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 15 of 36
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Louise
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience of a lifetime

Getting the chance to study peacebuilding in such an amazing city as Bogotá, was truly an experience of a lifetime!
The course was put together thoughtfully, and consisted of an interesting and well-balanced mix of excursions, talks and lectures. The thematic build up of the course gave a nuanced and detailed picture of the prolonged Colombian conflict, and the work that has been undertaken and continues to be undertaken in the quest to reach a sustainable peace. As students, we were introduced to a wide variety of different aspects of the peace building process under the guidance from extremely experienced and interesting lecturers. Every topic was equally intriguing and, even though the course was a bit intense at sometimes, I always looked forward to every activity in the curriculum.
The city of Bogotá also exceeded all of my expectations. It is a truly beautiful city, full of culture and history, with an amazingly friendly population. Furthermore, the staff of the course were very helpful, welcoming, inclusive and attentive- and they truly contributed to the amazing experience I've had.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
My flight tickets! Make sure you have a couple of extra days before/after the course in order to be able to explore a bit more of Colombia.
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Leonie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable experience

This three week course has been one of the most rewarding and dynamic courses i have participated in, and i urge anyone considering it to APPLY!!! What sets this course apart from the numerous other summer courses on offer is the jam-packed and wide ranging activities it has to offer.

To start, mornings were spent being taught by world renowned scholars from the University of Los Andes, covering the history of the conflict, the economics, the role of narcotics as well as the sociological impacts the conflict has had on the wider population. Therefore, as you can see, various disciplines are covered on this course and no previous knowledge is required. Although having studied Politics and International Relations for the past three years, i came into this with a very limited knowledge of the political landscape in Colombia, but rest assured you are in safe hands learning from experts in the field. You will also get a first hand experience of the conflict from ex FARC combatants and from visits to Government agencies which are helping forward the peace process. This part of the course was vital, and helps reinforce what we were learning about in the morning lectures and importantly helps bring home the very real suffering that has taken place.

Asides from the jam-packed academic schedule, the weekends are filled with fun and cultural activities should you wish to participate. From hiking up Colombia's highest waterfall to playing the popular sport of Tejo (which is definitely something you should experience at least once) there is always something going on. My favourite activity, by far, was the bike tour of Bogotá!

The support given by Red Tree, and in particular, by Alex, was second to none. They were extremely helpful, with everything from booking flights, to recommending the best places to eat and drink in Bogotá and this really makes the course unique.

Just apply and see for yourself.

What would you improve about this program?
The only suggestion i have would be to make this course a bit longer in duration, as the days can be quite busy. However, what is good is the amount of free time you have on the weekends, meaning there is ample time for exploring the wonderful sights of Colombia.
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Fern
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Such an amazing course

My trip to Bogota was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Firstly, the quality of the academic content of this course was simply second to none. It covered such a wide range of topics such as the history of the conflict in Colombia, narco-trafficking, politics and progressive ways of addressing the victims of conflict. We received lectures from world class academics from the Universidad de los Andes, many of whom played important roles in the peace process and subsequent transitional justice mechanisms. We also engaged in discussions and conversations with ex-combatants who had reintegrated back into society, and heard about their experiences from within the conflict. This meant that we were exposed to a range of perspectives on the conflict which really gave an in-depth, personal learning experience that is usually difficult to achieve in an academic program.
The Red Tree Study team did a phenomenal job of organising social activities during the evenings and weekends, such as a bike and food tour, graffiti tour, a waterfall hike and nights out. The coordinators were in no way overbearing and they also encouraged us to explore independently. The fact that many coordinators were from Bogota or elsewhere in Colombia meant that they could advise us on places to go or eat or even help us plan trips away at the weekend, which was so helpful. Even before I flew to Bogota the Red Tree Study Team, particularly Alex, were so organised and helpful with everything from booking flights, to obtaining additional funding from my university and other sources.
I honestly cannot recommend this program enough!

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Joseph
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic experience, would recommend every second

The lectures are incredibly humbling experience that give a fantastic insight into the history of Colombia and the conflict is has experienced. With topics such as the economic factors that have caused and elongated the war, the narcotics issue and illegal mining that have helped fund the war and the stages of the peace process that have got us where we are today. All were taught by incredibly insightful and intelligent lecturers who had honed their knowledge of their subject over years of study
There were also incredible guest lectures from such people as former combatants that told humbling and powerful speeches about their experience that moved everyone in the room as they spoke.
As well as this we made many onsite visits including the UN where we discussed their role in the peace process, the JEP where we learnt about the institutional processes in regards to transition to peace and how a nation needs to get those who have been affected from the war on both sides.
Aside from these, we had many curricular activities that gave a fantastically rounded experience of Bogota leaving me with a love of the city and desire to go back as soon as possible!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would have loved to have seen more of the country as I was there. We had free weekends to do so but my budget was rather tight
moi
Juliette
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best decision I've ever made

The course was so engaging and fascinating - There were lectures covering so many different angles of the conflict and peace-building such as its impact on children, the role of women in the armed conflict and transitional justice, the FARC reincorporation process, drug policy throughout the conflict and historic memory building. It was incredibly enriching to be taught by experts in their field. We spoke to Presidential candidates, ex-guerrilla members and social and human rights leaders who were at the forefront of Peace building efforts. It was intense and at times very moving but I've never learnt so much nor changed the way I think in such a short space of time.

The field visits reinforced what we had learnt in class and allowed us to see and learn about the conflict in a different way for example visits to the Centre for Memory Peace and Reconciliation as well as photo exhibitions brought the conflict down to a human level as I considered the millions of different experiences people had and the scale of the suffering that has happened and is still happening.

The Red Tree study team living with us were supportive made us feel very welcome the moment we arrived and the social activities were so fun! There were cycling tours and salsa lessons, nights out and hikes as well as hot chocolate and cheese movie nights. I have made so many friends and happy memories.

I'm so grateful for everything I have learnt as it has reinforced my decision to study Politics and motivated me to further study Peace-building and live in Colombia for my year abroad. I understand how Peace and forgiveness is an individual as well as collective process and how powerful it can be to work from the bottom upwards.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Aguapanela - a very confusing desert. Chunks of cheese in a drink made of sugarcane. I'm yet to be convinced! Sancocho was my favourite dish - a hearty stew generally containing meat, plantains, potatoes, corn, and avocado.
Me
Olaf
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience!

This course with Red Tree Study is fascinating. Learning about Colombia and its interesting history, with the top academics in the world on the subject lecturing, was a privilege. History, social science, law , and even the economy of the narcos industry are all things that you learn in entertaining lectures and visits. Bogota is an amazing place to explore and immerse yourself into the culture with it's excellent museums, great good stops and perhaps a few good bars to try... The campus in which you learn is in the Los Andes University which is a sight to behold. Built into the side of a mountain the modern, sleek design of the campus really added to the important content you were learning about. The skills learnt on this course are skills that I will cherish and use for the rest of my academic career and my life! What's also included is to actually see the peace process happen through visits to government to speak with officials to even meeting and listening to ex-combatants speak. This allows you to see history come to life and give you that feeling of reality which really aides your understanding of the conflict thus allowing you to really get to grips with the course content. Im so grateful to Red Tree Study to have been given the chance to go and I honestly had the best time meeting friendly, fun and interesting people.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Listening to a female ex-FARC member tell her story. Left me speechless.
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Courtney
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Brilliant Learning Experience

An amazing learning experience for anyone interested in the politics and history of Colombia. First class academic teaching staff and course content, as well as unbelievable site visits which really bring the learning experience to life. My favourite was definitely the visit to the UN verification visit.

The only possible improvement to the course would be that it could seriously benefit from being slightly longer. The amount of course content is insane and amazing and yet you’ll still feel like you’ve only scratched the surface before you know it’s time to go home. Also, very accessible for those who had zero prior knowledge of the conflict before the course, I definitely didn’t but I definitely do now!

Would seriously recommend for anyone with a passion for peace building, conflict resolution, and transitioning from a deeply divided society.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Pack for cold weather!! I thought oh I’ll work on my tan in Colombia, the weather in Bogotá is much closer to what we’re used to in the UK.

Also be prepared to fall in love with the country, and the city. I’m trying to get the money together to go back and share my experiences with my friends and family .
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Federico
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

You will learn a LOT

Those three weeks in Colombia have absolutely been one of the greatest times in my life. The course itself, while intense, spans almost every imaginable academic discipline there is to study conflicts and peace processes from political science to history, economics, sociology, law and international relations, all delivered by world-class academics from the university as well as other institutions. We covered the conflict's long history (early 20th century to the present), its political economy, the role of narcotics, the social impact on women and children, the Colombian political system, the centrality of land distribution, the content of the peace accord, the transitional justice system, the social challenges activists still face in the country... We also got the chance to talk to the UN and government agencies such as the victims reparation unit and the JEP to learn firsthand from them both the work they do for peace building as well as the challenges they face. Furthermore, by hearing the emotional story from an excombatant and from an environmental activist as well as visiting a photographic exhibition of the war, we moved beyond the "ivory tower" of academia and reminded us just how impactful conflict can be for all and of the urgency to work for peace.

Even though the course started with students who had a range of knowledge, from Colombians studying abroad who decided to participate, to Latin American enthusiasts and even to those who had no prior knowledge whatsoever, by the end of the three weeks there was almost no distinction. We all had learned so much that we could all engage in an educated manner about the topic and draw our own conclusions. What was further very pleasing to me was just how much I, as a Colombian, got challenged to confront and critically evaluate the views I had been cultivating throughout my life. When you grow up hearing your friends and relatives passionately talking about the conflict it can be difficult to effectively challenge your biases, yet I believe this course was able to do just that.

Beyond academia this brilliant course offered a healthy and perfect balance by having us engage with social activities to immerse ourselves in the Colombian culture. We had a salsa class, a movie night (watching an engaging and thought provoking Colombian film of course), and a bike tour of the city. We got to play a traditional Colombian game of tejo, ate at traditional restaurants as well as Colombian fast food chains and even trekked to a waterfall on a weekend. Local students from the University also helped the participants integrate by bringing us to their favourite bars and even night clubs (entirely optional I may add). All in all it was, I repeat some of the best three weeks of my life. If you are passionate about history, wars and peace building, love to travel, discover a new culture (or appreciate your own surrounded by foreign friends) and learn about the challenges and hopes at implementing one of the best most ambitious peace deals in the world, then this course is absolutely for you.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Pack well for the weather. Despite being in the tropics, Bogota is located at 8,660 ft/2640 m above sea level which means that half the time the temperature will be a bit chilly, furthermore it rains, a LOT and the weather can dramatically change within just one day so you could be starting the morning with a heavy rain, have the sun come out at lunch time and finish the day off with heavy winds. Thus I could not advise enough to bring a light wind jacket, an umbrella and some jumpers/pullovers. Other than that, if offered cheese dipped in hot chocolate don't shy away from it, it is actually quite good.
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Alice
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Experience!

The Peacebuilding in Colombia Program was easily one of the most enriching and fulfilling experiences of my life, and was an opportunity that I will never forget. The course is perfectly designed to give students an understanding of the history of the Colombian conflict, peace negotiations and the challenges of building a lasting peace, and the program certainly succeeded in delivering this mission.

The course was intellectually stimulating, from lectures by world-class professors ,conversations with government negotiators and site visits to mechanisms such as the UN and JEP. Moreover, the program was also emotionally stimulating , with passionate speeches from former combatants and leaders being both empowering and unbelievably thought-provoking. This was aided by the knowledge and enthusiasm from other course participants, with their curiosity and experiences being incredibly enriching.

The program also has a fantastic social element, which really enables you to engage with the beautiful country of Colombia and its rich culture. From waterfall treks to football, the social calendar enhanced my experience and helped create lasting memories.

The entire program was well supported by a friendly team of coordinators and staff, with their positive nature and enthusiasm transcending to participants.

If you want to be intellectually and emotionally engaged with like-minded peers whilst experiencing the culture of an incredible country, then I really couldn't recommend the Peacebuilding in Colombia course enough.

What would you improve about this program?
the only thing I would improve about the program would be making the course longer - this would have enabled more time to access further readings, process information and would have resulted in more free time for exploring Colombian culture.
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Lenika
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

You'll love Bogotá after this trip!

No matter where in the world you come from, going to Colombia is a necessary experience. Not only because of the beautiful people, delicious Colombian dishes or the amazing dance floors you’ll find, but because Colombia is setting the example for a transitional Peace Process on a world level. Being able to learn about the people, culture and political situation of Colombia through a program like Red Tree Study’s Peacebuilding in Colombia was enriching on so many levels.

The academic aspect of the program was incredible. Our unique curriculum that included lectures, conversations and classes from some of the most renowned professors in Latin America and abroad varied from day to day. One morning we could be listening to a professor from the Universidad de los Andes itself speak on the political economy of the Colombian armed conflict, and in the afternoon have a talk with a professor from Harvard Law School mentioning the importance of Women in the Armed Conflict and Transitional Justice.

Coming to Colombia with little to almost no understanding of the Peace Process Colombia has been in for decades, I was astounded by the incredible work the people of Colombia have been putting in for Peace. Having the opportunity to visit the United Nation Verification Mission in Colombia (UNVM-C), the Colombian Agency for Reincorporation (ARN) and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) allowed me to see the effort the country is placing on a societal transition to peace. As one of our guest speakers put it, Colombia is working for Peace by Piece.

My experience within the 3 weeks of the program was so eye-opening and engaging. Being able to learn about Colombia’s history through museum visits, graffiti tours and bicycle tours I got to see what the country is fighting for in many different art forms. As most of the program participants were international students, the way we saw, discussed and took in most of the information was different. By bringing our own unique perspectives we were able to add and extend the conversation around Peace and Peacebuilding worldwide.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Bring more rainy day outfits. I didn't expect it to rain so much (it was mostly drizzles but still it rained almost every other day).
Louise
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An extremely interesting course about armed conflict and peacebuilding

This peacebuilding course is one of the most interesting, as well as intense, courses I have participated in. It included a perfect mixture of both lectures and field visits. We covered many different areas of the conflict, everything from the history and different causes to how we have to work to solve all the different consequences in the future. We have discussed the economic, social and political factors as well as many different perspectives and experiences. We have been visiting agencies, NGOs, victims and former fighters and child soldiers, members from the FARC political party and many others.
The best thing with this course is that we have been able to talk and discuss with people from many different areas and with many different perspectives and opinions about the conflict. The stories and experiences we have been told is nothing we could have received from home or from studying the literature about this conflict. We have talked to people that usually don't take students or other people as visitors, and we have received first-hand information that we can use in our future studies and careers.
The Red Tree Study staff has been extremely helpful and supportive during the course, and they made sure that we had many fun social activities to join after the studying, as well as helped us with anything we needed to feel satisfied and comfortable in Bogotá. I can definitely recommend this course to anyone who is interested in this conflict, who wants to experience a bit of Colombia and who wants to make new friends from all over the world!

What would you improve about this program?
One of the few things that could be improved is that I wish the course would have been longer. We had very busy days, but everything was very interesting and I would have loved to stay longer.
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Jonathan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An absolutely amazing trip

I would recommend this trip to anyone, it was a unique and insightful experience. The academic content was provided by professioners at the University of Los Andes who have been very closely involved with the peace processes in Colombia. This gave the course a really personal perspective. The range of academic content covered was enormous, which made the site visits in the afternoon perfect to balance the workload and provide content to the issues we were investigating during the lectures.
The cultural trips organised were brilliant, I found the guided graffiti tour of Bogota really helped bring some of the issues we were learning about come to live. There was also a langauage exchange evening that was a great opportunity to improve my Spanish. These events really helped to get to know other people on the trip and immerse myself in Colombian culture.
The coordinators were great! Daniel and Mathias were extremely friendly and always willingly to help. Their personal experiences of Colombia also added a extra really interesting dynamic to the trip.
I really can’t say enough good things, an amazing opportunity that should not be missed!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish it could have lasted longer
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Daniel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic Introduction to Colombia and Its peace process

Looking back on my time during the Peacebuilding in Colombia course evokes a great sense of accomplishment and appreciation for what I have learnt about the complexities of building peace. As the program is structured with morning lectures which provide a historical and theoretical background and afternoon field visits to governance agencies and NGOs, it was able to provide a fantastic introduction to the dynamics and challenges that Colombia will face to create a sustaining peace. The quality of teaching was top-notch and carried out by very knowledgeable academics and practitioners so it felt identical to being in a university setting but far more fun!

Personally, I was particularly impressed with how the course engages with all the major parties to the conflict including former guerrillas members from the FARC, ELN and EPN and ex-combatants from the paramilitary group AUC. I found this very interesting as I was able to learn about the different experiences of armed actors which gave me an insight into the social-psychological impact of the conflict and how it affects the day-to-day lives of people.

More generally, studying abroad has given me the opportunity to develop a new language and learn about a different culture and the many fruits it brings. One key takeaway that will stick with me is how happy, friendly and resilient Colombian people are despite the hardship many have been through. This was a truly immersive experience which I throughly recommend to anyone interesting in peacebuilding, politics and history. However, it was taught In such a way that anyone, regardless of their background, would be absolutely fine even without prior knowledge of the subject area.

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Carlos
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable

My experience in Bogotá has been outstanding. The course has enabled me to understand in a much better way the Colombian conflict and the current sociopolitical situation in the country. What I like the most of this course is its balance between lectures and field visits, which gave us the opportunity to engage deeper with the topic of study of the day. We had the chance to visit places such as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, the UN Office of Migration and the office of the UN in Colombia, moreover, we could speak to excombatants and even to members of the FARC party, so we were able to study the conflict from every point of view.

Moreover, not just the academic part of the course was great, also the social activities were so fun and enjoyable. I have been able to meet a lot of fantastic people during my stay in Colombia, and the team of Red Tree Study was always there for us if we needed anything. This is an experience that I would recommend to anyone interested in studying abroad and getting to know other countries, especially if you are interested in politics, I can assure that you won’t regret it.

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katie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience

This course is absolutely amazing! It covers a wide range of topics from the role of women in the conflict to the economic aspect, all taught by experts in their fields. While the lectures are intensive they are all fascinating and vital for understanding the different elements of the conflict.

The lectures were combined with site visits in the afternoons. We went to places such as the Victims Unit and JEP offices. These visits helped to shape a more rounded knowledge of the conflict as we could talk to the people directly involved in the day to day running of the peace process.

Of course, there was also the cultural aspect of the trip which included activities such as learning to play Tejo or walking around the city during the graffiti tour. They helped to balance the rigorous academic aspect and added a more social element.

Everyone at Red Tree Study was incredibly friendly and helped to make the experience ten times better. In the course, there was a wide mix of different people from all around the world, all with different academic backgrounds. This helped to make class discussions lively and engaging as everyone brought something distinctive to the table.

Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Colombia and the Peacebuilding course. I would definitely recommend the course to anyone interested. It really is a life-changing experience!

What would you improve about this program?
The only criticism I have is that it needs to be longer!!!