Ethics and Development in Mali: Dialogue and Reconciliation


Time Frame:
May 9-June 16, 2016
Application Deadline:
March 1, 2016 (All day)




Residential College in the Arts and Humanities
College of Arts & Letters

Mali has a rich history of art, culture and music known and admired throughout the world. It also faces some of the most daunting challenges of the 21st century as Malians work to reduce hunger, improve education, and continue on the democratic path they began in 1991. This path was interrupted in 2012 by a military coup d'état and an insurgency in the northern regions of the country. After international intervention and new elections in July and August, 2013, Mali recommitted itself to democratic development through dialogue and reconciliation. RCAH students and faculty have been part of this process through the creation of an innovative peace education curriculum.

In the Mali Study Abroad program in summer 2014 RCAH faculty, students, and graduates helped create a Mali Peace Game and a growing set of picture books in French and Bamanakan for the Ciwara School in Kati. The Ciwara School is a K-9 community school committed to active and egalitarian student learning. In Kati, an important site of conflict in 2012-13, issues of property ownership, compensation for victims, punishment for wrongdoers, gender equality, and education and military training continue to be debated. In summer 2016 MSU students and faculty will work with teachers and students at the Ciwara School to continue to expand and implement their peace education curriculum and public dialogues around it.

One of the valuable parts of this program is the way in which it has inspired similar peace education projects with local RCAH partners in the Lansing area. In summer 2015 three of the Ciwara teachers who developed the Mali Peace Game and peace building picture books for their students spent a month in the U.S. consulting with the Lansing Refugee Center and Peckham, Inc. on how they might create a similar peace education program for their students and employees. RCAH students have begun to do just this in fall 2015 at the Refugee Development Center and Peckham, Inc., and the prospects for continued cross-fertilization between Mali and Michigan adds a new dimension to this RCAH study abroad program.

Before departure, we will meet in class at MSU for a week of intensive study of Malian history and the progress that the Ciwara School has made since 2014 on its peace education curriculum.

Then, in Mali we will rejoin our Ciwara School partners  as they complete the academic year's work on the Mali Peace Game and their series of picture books, all part of a comprehensive peace education curriculum.

The learning objectives for the program are to enable students to understand and critically evaluate:

  • The ethical complexity of development issues in Mali, including gender issues.
  • The richness of Malian political traditions.
  • The alternative methods of dialogue and reconciliation for peace building.
  • The important local issues in Kati that bear upon  peace building.
  • The relevance of the Malian case and Kati in particular for dialogue and reconciliation elsewhere, including in the US.

To learn more about the Mali program, read this article in Diversity and Democracy by Dean Stephen Esquith, Chris Worland, and Yoby Guindo. For a student perspective on study abroad in Mali, read "Fatoumata" by RCAH alumna Leila Chatti.

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