In January 2016, I led a team of students in an immersive study abroad trip to the Basque Country, Spain. The course, titled “Memory and Conflict: Dealing with the Past Constructively,” allowed students to discover how different actors and institutions address processes of dealing with the region’s contentious past through education, justice, policymaking, and art.
The Basque Country has experienced protracted conflict described as “Europe’s longest war” with roots that can be traced to the time of Spanish Civil War and before. The Basque Study Abroad trip explored the consequences of the conflict and steps that are being taken to help spur the reconciliation process.
Students participating in the trip interacted with government officials in the Basque Parliament, civil society leaders, scholars, activists, and artists and had opportunities to visit local cultural sights including the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao. Students benefited from visiting towns and cities across the region, including Bilbao, San Sebastian, Guernica, Vitoria, Arantzazu, and Mondragon.
The study abroad is about more than just earning class credit. It’s an opportunity for networking and collaboration, as well as to develop professional skills. Students are able to meet with officials, scholars, policymakers and dignitaries.
The study abroad complements extensive and diverse research conducted by the School’s Basque Country Research Team. The team is part of a partnership with the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University, the International Center on Conflict and Cooperation at Teacher’s College and AC4, and the Agirre Center.
The research team at Seton Hall is unique in both structure and scope. Collaboration is emphasized and advanced student members of the team are encouraged to act as mentors to new researchers. The team explores a variety of topics across sectors, and shares information in regular monthly meetings.
As with the study abroad, students participating in the research team have an opportunity to explore topics that interest them, from sustainable development and gender to security and terrorism.