Students study conflict resolution in Northern Ireland
Print Page Email Page
Bookmark and Share

Campus News


Back to News Features
<< Return to News Features

Students study conflict resolution in Northern Ireland

Nearly 20 years ago the Provisional Irish Republican Army signed a ceasefire agreement, turning the tide in a history marked with conflict and violence. Since then, Northern Ireland has made great strides in establishing peace and bringing reconciliation in the divided island of Ireland. This summer, 11 University of St. Thomas students crossed the Atlantic to study firsthand how Northern Ireland is working to implement change.

Led by Lori Gallagher, J.D., director of the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at UST, students spent three weeks traveling across Ireland and Northern Ireland to conduct personal interviews with over 44 governmental officials, religious leaders, community leaders, journalists and historians who are key figures involved in implementing and maintaining the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, the cornerstone in Northern Ireland’s transition from conflict to peace.

Through doors opened by Bill Flynn, the Center’s namesake, along with Rev. Harold Good, peacemaker, former President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and this year’s Annual Irish Gala honoree, UST students were granted access to several special events and key figures. The students observed a question and answer session in the Irish Parliament with Enda Kenny, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and personally met with Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. They also watched a presentation on enterprise, trade and investment in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Marissa Valle, a 2013 UST graduate with a major in international studies and a minor in social justice, chose the Northern Ireland study abroad program because it furthered her preparation for her master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, which she will pursue at American University in Washington D.C. this fall.

“The study abroad program is a unique opportunity, not only to be immersed in another culture, but also to interact with people who have important experiences with the conflict and peace process in Northern Ireland,” Valle said. “They provided us with invaluable insight into the past, present and future of Northern Ireland.”

In addition to studying the peace process, the students toured several archaeological and historical sites with Irish scholars. Among the highlights was a tour of several monasteries and abbeys led by Dr. Catherine Swift, an historian from UST’s exchange partner, Mary Immaculate College, in Limerick, and who will be lecturing at UST in October.

The students toured Clonmacnoise, a monastic settlement founded by St. Ciaran in the sixth century, the Rock of Cashel, a medieval royal and religious site, Holy Cross Abbey, a restored Cistercian monastery, Glenstal Abbey, an active Benedictine monastery that features a forest full of exotic trees from around the world, and many other sites.

“My goal in leading study abroad is to expose students to Irish and Northern Irish leaders who excel in their fields, whether they be politicians, religious leaders, business executives or scholars,” Gallagher said. “I also want them to experience the beauty and mystery of all parts of Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

The students, whose disciplines ranged from Irish Studies to international studies, communications, history, political science, social justice, biology and business, completed their coursework by writing journals on Making Sense of the Troubles as well as their experiences in Ireland and Northern Ireland and completing a research paper on a topic relating to the course.

“The beauty of this program is that one does not have to be Irish or of Irish heritage to learn the value of building a society based upon mutual respect and trust among people of diverse faiths and cultural backgrounds,” Gallagher said. “Lessons learned from the Northern Ireland peace process resonate with conflicts around the world and at home.”

Explore the world through our summer study abraod programs.

<< Return

<< Return to News Features

Apply Now

Apply Now 

Start planning for your future at UST with our free application.

Apply now

Catholic Identity

Apply Now​ 

Faith is an important component of our Catholic education.

Read more

Featured News

Adam McCoy, visiting UST student from Northern IrelandVisiting Study Abroad Student from Northern Ireland Earns Scholarship

Visiting University of St. Thomas student Adam McCoy, originally from Northern Ir...

University of St. Thomas - Houston, TX - Educating Leaders of Faith and Character
Integrating Faith & Reason
The University of St. Thomas located in Houston, Texas is dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character. UST is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston’s Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947.
Helpful Links
Contact Us
  University of St. Thomas
3800 Montrose
Houston, Texas 77006-4626
Follow Us
like us on facebook follow us on youtube follow us on twitter see us on instagram follow us on Tumblr follow us on linkedin join us on google plus
Contact Us
  University of St. Thomas
3800 Montrose
Houston, Texas 77006-4626

Follow Us


Copyright © 2016 University of St. Thomas.
All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Clery Act | Title IX | Accreditation | Report A Problem | Emergency & Safety | Maps & Directions | Site Map


  • like us on facebook
  • follow us on youtube
  • follow us on twitter
  • see us on instagram
  • follow us on Tumblr
  • follow us on linkedin
  • join us on google plus
  • The Summa, Serving the University of St. Thomas since 2008