Saturday, 15 January 2011



This year's Rift Valley Institute field courses stress the historical background to political developments in the region: the two-state future in Sudan, the effect of recent and upcoming elections in the Great Lakes, and the continuing challenges to political evolution in the countries of the Horn of Africa. The courses are seminar-based, one-week, high-intensity events to be held between May and July. Faculty includes internationally-known regional specialists, researchers and civil society activists from Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, and the DRC.

The application deadline for all courses is Monday 28 February. You can apply online here.
Summaries of each course are included below. Prospectuses containing further details are attached to this message and can be downloaded from (Or write to

Dates for this year’s courses are as follows:
The Sudan Course, Wednesday 25 May to Tuesday 31 May, in Rumbek, Southern Sudan.
The Horn of Africa Course, Saturday 4 to Friday 10 June in Lamu, Kenya.
The Great Lakes Course, Saturday 9 July to Friday 15 July in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The courses are intensive, graduate-level, residential programmes. They are designed for local and expatriate peacekeepers, aid workers, diplomats, researchers, campaigners, business people and journalists.Taught by leading regional and international specialists, the courses provide a fast-track introduction to the history, political economy and culture of a country or region, challenging assumptions and offering new perspectives on politics, development and other current issues. 


The Sudan course embraces all regions of Sudan: north, south, east and west. A special theme of this year's course, coming at a critical point in the country's history, will be Sudan's probable future as two states, following the referendum in January and the imminent end of the five-year transition period of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The Director of the Sudan Course is John Ryle, Director of the RVI and Professor of Anthropology at Bard College, NY. The Director of Studies is Dr Peter Woodward, distinguished scholar of Sudanese political history and Professor Emeritus at Reading University. The Deputy Director of Studies will be Dan Large, School of Oriental and African Studies, director of the Sudan Open Archive and co-editor of China Returns to Africa.
The teaching staff on this year's course includes: Atta al-Battahani, Professor of Political Science, University of Khartoum; Jok Madut Jok, author of Race, Religion and Violence in Sudan; Akolda Tier, Professor of Law at the University of Khartoum; Cherry Leonardi, Lecturer in History at Durham University; Justin Willis, Professor of History, University of Durham, Edward Thomas, author of Islam's Perfect Stranger: The Life of Mahmud Muhammad Taha, Muslim Reformer of SudanAlfred Lokuji, independent consultant specialising in governance and development issues and a Lecturer at the Catholic University of Sudan; Joanna Oyediran, Sudan Program Officer, OSEIA; and Magdi el-Gizouli, Freiburg University.


The Horn of Africa Course covers Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland, and northern Kenya. The Course Director is Mark Bradbury, author of Becoming Somaliland. The Director of Studies is Ken Menkhaus, Professor of Political Science at Davidson College, North Carolina. The Deputy Director of Studies is Sally Healy, Associate Fellow, for the Africa Program at Chatham House in London.
The teaching staff on this year’s course includes: Jabril Abdullahi Mohamoud, Director of the Centre for Research and Dialogue in Mogadishu; Semhar Araia, Horn of Africa Regional Policy Advisor for Oxfam and Kjetil Tronvoll, Horn of Africa Programme Director for the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights at University of Oslo; Lee Cassanelli, Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania; and Christopher Clapham, Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Cambridge.

The Great Lakes Course covers Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This year's course will focus particularly on the historical and political background to recent conflict in the region, with an emphasis on elections in DRC and the fallout from last year's polls in Rwanda and Burundi.
Ben Shepherd, formerly research fellow at London School of Economics and Great Lakes specialist at the UK Foreign Office, is Course Director. The Deputy Director is Emily Paddon, Lecturer in International Studies at Oxford University. Jason Stearns, currently at Yale University, is Director of Studies (His book, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa will be out this year; his blog, Congosiasa, can be found at 
Teaching staff on the Great Lakes Course this year includes a number of distinguished scholars and activists from Rwanda, Burundi and DRC including: Isidore Ndaywel e Nziem, Professor of History at the University of Kinshasa and author of Histoire générale du Congo; Greg Mthembu-Salter, consultant for the UN Group of Experts on the DRC and natural resources specialist and Pascal Kambale, Deputy Director of the Africa Governance, Monitoring and Advocacy Project for the Open Society Institute.
International teaching staff will include:  Catharine Newbury, Professor of Government at Smith College, author of The Cohesion of Oppression, David Newbury, Professor of African Studies at Smith College, author of The Land Beyond the Mists; Filip Reyntjens Professor of African Law and Politics, University of Antwerp, author of The Great African War.
The Great Lakes course is bilingual, with teaching and discussion in both French and English. Interpretation services are provided. 


You can apply for courses online here or via
The deadline for submitting an application form is Monday February 28th 2011. Due to high demand for places, applicants are encouraged to apply in advance of the deadline.
Successful applicants will be informed by mid March. On acceptance, full payment of $4,000 (US dollars), including payment of all bank charges, will be due by Friday 15 April 2011.


All three courses offer a full daily programme of talks, seminars and visits to sites of local interest. All courses are residential, and there are many opportunities for informal discussion with the teaching staff and other participants.

Rift Valley Institute website
Further information about RVI courses
Videoclips of earlier RVI courses

The Rift Valley Institute is a non-profit research, education and advocacy organization working in Sudan, the Horn of Africa, East Africa and the Great Lakes. RVI field courses are designed to challenge common assumptions and offer new perspectives on politics and development.

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This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.