CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program

CONTACT participantsThe CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program is a three-week professional and academic program in conflict transformation. The first two weeks of the program take place on the SIT Graduate Institute campus in Brattleboro, Vermont, and the final week of the program takes place in Washington, DC. The program serves the needs of working professionals who want to further their skills and knowledge in peacebuilding, as well as those who plan to pursue a graduate degree in conflict transformation.

The program explores ways to confront the past, intervene in the present, and create a shared vision for a secure and sustainable future. Through a combination of readings, discussions, and experiential activities with faculty, participants develop a full range of peacebuilding skills and techniques.

Participants benefit from the unique opportunity to be in a diverse multicultural setting and share experiences and knowledge. Each year, peacebuilders from more than 30 countries around the world come to Vermont to participate in this program.

Tatsushi Arai
Tatsushi Arai

Associate Professor
Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation

Dr. Tatsushi (Tats) Arai is a scholar-practitioner of conflict resolution, multi-track diplomacy, sustainable development, and cross-cultural communication with 20 years of diverse international experience. He is associate professor of peacebuilding and conflict transformation at SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont, fellow at the Center for Peacemaking Practice at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in Virginia, and research associate of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research in Hawaii.

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Suzanne Belleci
Suzanne Belleci

CONTACT Graduate Certificate Program

Suzanne Belleci, MA, has taught peace and conflict studies at the Arab American University of Jenin, Palestine, and master's degree courses on intercultural communications, organizational behavior, and peacebuilding at SIT Graduate Institute. 

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Ryland White
Ryland White

Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

Ryland White, professor, has been a member of SIT Graduate Institute faculty since 1993. She teaches courses in training design for experiential learning, training for social action, dismantling disability, and ethics and intercultural training design.

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Mehlaqa Samdani
Mehlaqa Samdani

CONTACT Graduate Certificate Program

Mehlaqa Samdani is the founder and director of Critical Connections, a nonprofit organization in western Massachusetts committed to improving understanding of the Muslim world and the Muslim diaspora through dialogue, analysis, and outreach.

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Joseph Sebarenzi
Joseph Sebarenzi

CONTACT Graduate Certificate Program
Sustainable Development

Joseph Sebarenzi earned a doctorate in international human rights law from the National University of Ireland, a master’s degree in international and intercultural management from SIT Graduate Institute, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He holds an honorary doctorate in law from Marlboro College (Vermont, US).

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Bruce W. Dayton
Bruce W. Dayton

Executive Director, CONTACT
Associate Professor
Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation

Bruce W. Dayton (PhD, Syracuse University, 1999) has been active in peacebuilding and conflict transformation work for over twenty years as a practitioner, a researcher, and an educator. His work focuses on the intersection of social identity and intractable conflicts and the role that intermediaries can play in transforming them.

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The Summer Peacebuilding Program includes the following components:

  • Two graduate-level courses taught by CONTACT’s international faculty
  • Professional trainings and workshops to develop knowledge, skills, and awareness around key concepts in peacebuilding and community development
  • Cultural events to share CONTACT’s diverse participant experiences with the local Brattleboro and Washington, DC, communities

CONTACT courses:

CONTACT groupPeacebuilding I: Conflict Transformation and Global Relations – SIT Campus, Brattleboro, VT (2 credits) 
This two-week core course serves as a learning laboratory for multicultural community building, self-reflection, and the deepening of relationships with others across differences of experience, culture, and history. Course content focuses on the complex and interrelated causes and dimensions of protracted violent conflict, the recurrent cycles of conflicts, and the steps that lead to healing and reconciliation. This course introduces micro-skills such as the fundamentals of mediation, negotiation, facilitation, and training, as well as strategies for change in places of communal conflict.

Peacebuilding II: Professional Practices inPeacebuilding – Washington, DC (1 credit)
This course provides opportunities for students to build on the awareness and skills developed in Peacebuilding I: Conflict Transformation and Global Relations through interactions with officials and NGOs in the Washington, DC, area. Participants choose one elective. Recently offered sections include:

  • Peacebuilding and Development
    Peacebuilding and Development explores the effects of war economies, trade, and globalization on peacebuilding, and provides participants with an opportunity to reflect on and share practical approaches to development and peacebuilding. It examines the interests and needs of various actors in development, as well as the complex web of relationships that need to be developed and sustained if the century ahead is ultimately going to be the start of a Millennium of Peace. 
  • Strategies for Change Agents
    The Strategies for Change Agents course considers the multiple options available to individuals doing change work in conflict settings. Interactive discussions will focus on the limits and possibilities of specific change strategies, the circumstances that may make one pathway to achieving change more viable than others, and the mechanics of designing and launching a change initiative. Each participant will select one specific conflict to work on throughout the elective. With that conflict in mind, each will design a conflict transformation and change project based on the following sequence of steps: analysis, theory of change, project design, project implementation, and project monitoring and evaluation.

Professional Trainings and Workshops:

Some examples of activities and workshops include:

  • God Sleeps in Rwanda, presentation and book signing
  • Introduction to Drama Therapy training
  • Activism for Social Change workshop
  • Restorative Justice in Vermont workshop
  • Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, film and discussion

Cultural Events:

  • Brattleboro’s annual “Strolling of the Heifers” parade
  • Day trip to Boston
  • Brattleboro Farmers’ Market and Gallery Walk
  • International Festival and variety show
  • National Museum of the American Indian in DC
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC

Washington, DC, Program Partners

  • Search for Common Ground
  • United States Institute for Peace
  • United States Agency for International Development
  • International Foundation for Electoral Systems
  • School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

Selection Criteria and Application Process

The CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program is designed for working professionals who want to further their skills and knowledge in peacebuilding, as well as those who plan to pursue a graduate degree in conflict transformation. Participants hail from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences and over the years have represented more than 60 different countries. Alumni of the CONTACT summer program are working globally with a variety of local and international NGOs; local, state, and national governments; community and youth organizations; religious and cultural institutions; and media organizations.

Criteria for acceptance into the program include professional experience, academic ability, career goals, cross-cultural experiences, and ability to work well with others. A variety of methods may be used to assess these qualities, including an essay, review of past academic performance, references, and in some cases a personal interview.

Apply online to the CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program. Please submit the following materials via your online application.

  • Your résumé or curriculum vitae in English 
  • An essay of approximately 500–750 words describing one significant intercultural experience and analyzing how this experience has shaped your education and/or career path
  • Three (3) letters of reference in English. (The reference writers should complete your reference online after you’ve clicked the “Send Request” button in your online application.) If possible, please send the letter from your current or most recent supervisor who knows your work. 
  • Transcripts from all previous colleges or universities. (Unofficial copies are sufficient.) 
  • Applicants whose first language is not English and who did not attend an undergraduate institution at which the language of instruction was English must provide documentation that will demonstrate their English language acquisition (courses attended, tests given, etc.). If the admission reviewers consider that there is further evidence needed, we will contact you for a phone or a Skype interview. If you have taken and passed the TOEFL or IELTS exams, please upload copies of your test scores to your online application.


A limited number of competitive scholarships are available to participants of the CONTACT program. These scholarships cover only tuition expenses, and do not cover room, board, transportation, visa fees, or other personal expenses. Participants are encouraged to seek out funding sources within their own communities or organizations to cover the cost of participation.

Calendar and Timeline

Event Date
Application deadline SIT is still accepting applications for 2016 programs on a rolling basis. Contact Admissions for details.
Arrival and registration May 31, 2015
Peacebuilding I June 6, 2016 to June 17, 2016
SIT Graduate Institute Brattleboro, Vermont Campus
Peacebuilding II

June 20, 2016 to June 24, 2016
SIT Graduate Institute Brattleboro, Vermont Campus
SIT Graduate Institute Washington, DC Center


Note: Classes take place Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Optional but recommended evening and weekend activities take place most days.

The expenses below do not include travel to the Vermont campus and personal expenses.

Item Cost
Tuition $2,250
Administrative Fees $75
Room and Board* $950
Health Insurance for International Participants $64

* Rates are subject to change. Participants are not required to stay in on-campus housing.

Payment Methods

Tuition and room and board must be paid in full prior to the start of the program. SIT accepts Visa and MasterCard, personal or bank check, cash, or wire transfers.

Please email for more details regarding the payment process.