Public Education and Healing in 21st Century Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina
May 12 - June 1, 2016 

Program Highlights

  • Opportunities to explore the complex stories behind ongoing ethnic and religious tensions in a country characterized by heartfelt hospitality and breaktaking natural beauty
  • Chances to learn about the role of education in healing cultural tensions by interacting with teachers, students and their parents, school adminsitrators and leaders of NGOs
  • Extended stays in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, and Mostar
  • Multiple day trips to important historical, cultural, religious and natural landmarks
  • Opportunity to engage with CSB/SJU alums living and working across Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Chance to combine this May-term trip with a summer internship in BiH
  • Fulfill college/unviersity intercultural requirement (IC)

Program Description

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a rich history, stretching from the Roman Empire through Ottoman Turkey and Socialist Yugoslavia. With the collapse of the former Yugoslavia at the end of the Cold War, ethnic differences resulted in the creation of several new countries. Unlike some of the other newly formed nations, Bosnia and Herzegovina was quite ethnically heterogeneous, including a mix of Serbs (primarily Orthodox Christians), Croats (mostly Catholic), and Bosnian Muslims. Prior to 1992, these groups lived, learned, and worked together, but since the Bosnian war (1992-1995) there has been greater separation of and tension between the ethnic groups.

Many would argue that public education has an important role to play in resolving these conflicts and healing long-term wounds; however, the ideal role of public education is not always realized. Participants in this study trip will apply their knowledge of public education in the United States and cultural interactions and tensions in BiH to better understand Bosnia's contemporary educational systems. Ultimately, trip participants will analyze the impact of public education on maintaining and/or healing the long-term cultural divisions in both Bosnia and the United States.

The program is guided by the following questions:

  • How are current inter- and intra-cultural relationships in BiH shaped by historical, economic, political, geographic, and sociological factors?
  • What role does public education play in healing or maintaining current cultural tensions in BiH? What factors influence the current educational system in BiH? What role should public education play in healing current cultural tensions in BiH? Realistically, what changes in BiH's public education system are possible?
  • What role does public education play in healing or maintaining current cultural tensions in the United States? What factors influence the current educational system in the U.S.? What role should public education play in healing current cultural tensions in the U.S.? Realistically, what changes in United States' public education system are possible?

Participants will construct answers to these questions through stays in diverse regions of BiH, including: Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and Mostar. Conversations with local experts, readings, group discussions, tours, and site visits will deepen understanding of values, beliefs, challenges, and benefits of life in each of these places.

This program is offered in partnership with Nesto Vise, a non-governmental organization founded in 1997 by a group of young people. Nesto Vise motivates positive changes in society by offering opportunities to individuals and groups for formal and informal education, networking, employment, and helping others. Ultimately their goal is to create competent and responsible leaders who foster openness and belonging within their society. Nesto Vise's programs and projects have been implemented in over 70 local communities in BiH.

This short-term study abroad program can also be partnered with the Summer Global Practicum program offered through the Center for Global Education.  This short-term study abroad program serves as the perfect introduction and cultural orientation to the eight-week internship experience.  The Summer Global Practicum will challenge you to put the knowledge learned at CSB/SJU and in BiH to work in an NGO setting.

The estimated Program Fee is $3,600 plus the cost of 2 CSB/SJU credits at the reduced summer tuition rate (approximately $550 per credit).

This price includes:

  • Round-trip international airfare from Minneapolis to BiH
  • Accommodation during the program
  • Local transportation
  • Course related excursions including: admission to museums, cultural attractions, and other events as outlined in the itinerary
  • Program administrative costs and fees
  • 1 meal in each city + most breakfasts

The Program Fee does not include:

  • Most meals (estimated at $6-$10 per meal)
  • Personal spending money
  • Activities, housing or transportation not associated with or included in the program
  • 2 CSB/SJU credits at the reduced summer tuition rate (approximately $550 per credit)


During the program, students will stay in hostel-style accommodations.  Bedrooms will range from 2 to 4 students per room.


Terry Johnson, associate professor in the Education Department, will lead this short-term program to BiH. She travelled to the region in 2015 with CSB/SJU students and in 2012 with a faculty development group. She will be partnering with Nesto Vise, who will provide all of the on the ground support. 

Photo credits: Mackenzie Heck and Tom Johnson