Madrasa Discourses Immersion

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The Undergraduate Program in Peace Studies offers Notre Dame undergraduate students interested in peacebuilding and interreligious dialogue the opportunity to undertake a unique immersion experience with Madrasa Discourses, an ongoing project within the Kroc Institute's Contending Modernities research initiative.

This immersion allows peace studies students to engage in deep conversations about religion, society, and modernity with young Islamic studies scholars from India and Pakistan while also observing the elicitive education model employed by the project's research team. The immersion consists of participation in two related components: an international intensive and a graded research apprenticeship.

International Intensive

Students have the option of applying for the one-week Winter Intensive or the two-week Summer Intensive, both of which take place in an international location outside of the United States. Past intensives have been held in Doha, Qatar, and Kathmandu, Nepal. The Kroc Institute sponsors the majority of travel, lodging, and food costs. The number of students who accompany the team for each intensive will vary depending on location and budget.

During the intensive, the selected undergraduates participate in courses alongside the Madrasa Discourses students and engage in cross-cultural dialogue through structured discussion groups and excursions to various cultural sites. The discussions cover topics and questions related to religion, identity, gender, politics, and science. Students also produce a reflective essay, which might be selected for publication on the Contending Modernities blog.

Research Apprenticeship

The second component of the immersion is a research apprenticeship, typically completed during the semester following the international intensive. This apprenticeship course, taken as IIPS 47000 Peace Research Lab for 1.0 credit, allows peace studies students to build on their experience in the intensive and benefit from the continued mentorship of the Kroc Institute faculty who administer the project.

Throughout the semester, students may facilitate weekly conversations with a small number of Madrasa Discourses students on topics similar to those raised during the intensive. Students may also take turns guiding the Madrasa Discourses students through the process of reading and discussing an English-language book to assist with developing English proficiency. Meetings take place via Zoom or similar internet-based video conferencing software.

The undergraduate participants in the apprenticeship also meet with a faculty or staff mentor once per week as a group to discuss their observations and exchange notes on best practices for intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Students will produce a final reflection paper. Previous papers have discussed the power of intercultural engagement for personal transformation and the effectiveness of an elicitive approach for dialogue. Work is evaluated with a standard letter grade.

Current Application Cycle

The 2021 Summer Intensive course will occur July 1-20, 2021. Due to the continued restrictions on university-sponsored international travel and on-going global health and safety concerns, students will participate in this immersion virtually instead of on location in Nepal. The virtual sessions will still provide ample opportunity for dialogue and engagement.

Application: Madrasa Discourses 2021 Summer Intensive

Deadline: Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Eligibility: Any Notre Dame undergraduate with an academic interest in interreligious and intercultural dialogue may apply. Depending on application volume, preference might be given to students pursuing a peace studies supplementary major or interdisciplinary minor and students pursuing the global affairs supplementary major with a concentration in peace studies. Students should be returning to the university for the following semester; seniors who are graduating in May are not eligible to participate. Students who have previously participated are eligible to apply again.

Requirements: If selected, students must participate in an orientation meeting with the project team before the intensive begins. For the three weeks of the intensive, students must participate in one or more virtual small group discussions per week, engage in asynchronous chat room conversations, and attend any intensive class sessions specified by the Madrasa Discourses team.

After the intensive, students must participate in a debriefing meeting with the team and submit a short reflection essay about their experience no later than August 20, 2021. Students whose reflections are selected for the Contending Modernities blog must engage in further editorial conversation with the project team to prepare the essay for web publishing. Selected students should plan on registering for the Fall 2021 section of IIPS 47000 Peace Research Lab by the course registration deadline.

Questions: Email Anna K. Van Overberghe, Assistant Director for Academic Administration and Undergraduate Studies, at