The CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program is a three-week professional and academic program in conflict transformation. The program take place on the SIT Graduate Institute campus in Brattleboro, Vermont, where students learn about core ideas and practices in conflict transformation.

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"After attending CONTACT, I became more moderate and enlightened in my thoughts and no longer think the way I had about certain issues. CONTACT gave me skills to promote peace and nonviolence, which I couldn't previously do despite having a deep desire to do so".

-Aamir Gamaryani, Pakistan, CONTACT participant

The program’s philosophy is that conflict transformation training is most effective when it combines skills-based academic instruction with personal interaction between peacebuilders across ethnic, national, religious, and cultural divides. CONTACT students learn from each other as well as instructors in an intensive format following an experiential learning model. Trainings are led by a diverse group of internationally recognized faculty with years of applied, classroom, and research experience. Typically, peacebuilders from over twenty-five countries participate in the program.

Among the topics explored during the three-week program are conflict analysis, social identity and conflict, peacebuilding interventions, post-conflict reconciliation, intercultural communications, gender and peacebuilding, mediation, negotiation, dialogue, policy advocacy, the arts and peacebuilding, non-violent social action, and monitoring and evaluation.

Musicians without Borders, Music Connects

CONTACT has partnered with Musicians without Borders (MWB), which runs a two-week professional training program in community music leadership and conflict transformation in conjunction with the CONTACT program. The training is open to musicians and music students who are active in their communities as workshop leaders, teachers, or social activists and who would like to further their knowledge of using music as a tool for peacebuilding and social change. 

For more information about Musicians without Borders' training content, please visit their FAQ.

The trainers are Danny Felsteiner Mekori, Sherwin Kirindongo and Laura Hassler (Founder and Director). You can find biographies here.



  • June 4–22, 2018

SIT’s faculty are practitioners in their fields. Our diverse, multicultural faculty have worked across the world as leaders, trainers, and developers in the business, nonprofit, education, and public sectors.

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Core Faculty

Tatsushi Arai
Tatsushi Arai

Peace and Justice Leadership

Dr. Tatsushi (Tats) Arai is a scholar-practitioner of conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and multi-track diplomacy with twenty years of international experience. He is a professor of peacebuilding and conflict transformation at SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont and a Fellow of the Center for Peacemaking Practice at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in Virginia.

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Bruce W. Dayton
Bruce W. Dayton

Executive Director, CONTACT
Associate Professor
Peace and Justice Leadership

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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Adjunct Faculty and Guests

Suzanne Belleci
Suzanne Belleci

Adjunct Faculty
Peace and Justice Leadership

Suzanne Belleci has been teaching conflict transformation, social justice, cross-cultural communication, and management courses at SIT for 17 years. She served as SIT’s first ombudsperson, bringing groups together, facilitating dialog circles for conflict resolution, and mediating one-on-one disputes. 

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Tosca Bruno-van Vi Vijfeijken
Tosca Bruno-van Vi Vijfeijken

Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken has worked on international development and civil society issues for over 25 years, both in practice as well as in academia. She was the co-director of the Transnational NGO Initiative (TNGO Initiative) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University since 2003, and in 2015 became its director. 

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Laura Hassler
Laura Hassler

CONTACT Summer Program

Laura Hassler grew up in a multicultural, artistic community in New York, a child of two professionals in the international peace and nonviolence movement. Active in US civil rights and peace movements from an early age, she studied cultural anthropology and music at Swarthmore College, combining academics with activism and music.


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Alla Korzh
Alla Korzh

Assistant Professor
International Education (on campus)
International Education (low residency)
Global Youth Development and Leadership

Dr. Alla Korzh is an educator, researcher, and practitioner in the field of international education with a regional focus on Eastern Europe. She holds a doctorate in international educational development from Teachers College, Columbia University.

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Michael Shank
Michael Shank

Michael Shank is head of communications for the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in New York City, where he handles communications for Professor Jeffrey Sachs and SDSN’s work on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Michael’s recent positions include director of media strategy at Climate Nexus, associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and US Congressman Michael Honda’s senior policy advisor and communications director. 

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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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The Summer Peacebuilding Program includes the following components:

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  • 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 community

CONTACT courses:

Peacebuilding I: Conflict Transformation and Global Relations (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 in Peacebuilding (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 more intense training in a particular skill-set. 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.

Some examples of recent activities and workshops offered during the CONTACT experience 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

Some examples of recent cultural events offered to CONTACT participants include:

  • Brattleboro’s annual “Strolling of the Heifers” parade
  • Day trip to Boston
  • Brattleboro Farmers’ Market and Gallery Walk
  • International Festival and variety show

We strive to create a diverse and experienced student body to enhance the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom. To be considered for admission to this program, you must meet the following criteria:

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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 responding to the prompt below.
    Everyone has their own philosophy about conflicts, that is, why they emerge, how to manage them, and what roles they play in social relationships, in social settings, and in politics. Write a brief overview of your own conflict philosophy. In addition to describing your philosophy, include information about the important people or events that have shaped your view and how/whether it has changed over the years.
  • 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 request a reference letter from your current or most recent supervisor who knows your work. 
  • Official transcripts from all previous colleges or universities.
    Note: In some countries the term "transcript" may not be used by colleges and universities and thus may not be a familiar term. To be official, a transcript must include the following information: (1) the dates you attended the institution; (2) the titles of the specific courses or subjects in which you were enrolled; (3) the number of hours of instruction or other learning involved in each course or subject; (4) the grade, mark, or other evaluation you received for each course or subject; and (5) any degree, diploma, certificate, or other qualifications awarded for completion of studies. To be official, the document(s) must contain the institution's stamp or other certification that clearly indicates authenticity. In cases where the above requested information is not available, an applicant should consult the Graduate Admissions Office at or at 802 258-3510 (outside the US) or 800 336-1616 (toll-free in the US) for advice on the best way to proceed.
  • 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 February 27, 2017. Applications will be accepted after this date on a rolling basis. Contact Admissions for details.
Arrival and registration June 4, 2017
Peacebuilding I: Musicians Without Borders June 5, 2017 to June 16, 2017
Peacebuilding II

June 19, 2017 to June 24, 2017


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.

Tuition and Fees

See a breakdown of the costs for this program.

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

Item Cost
Tuition (CONTACT/MWB) $2,250/$1,500
Administrative Fees $75
Room and Board (CONTACT/MWB) $920/$598*
Transportation Fee  $95

*Rates are subject to change. 

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.