Postwar Reconstruction and Development Unit

Location: York University | Sri Lanka | Afghanistan | Bosnia | Jordan | Lebanon 

Subject: Education

Dates: 2000-2011

Related ACE Cultural Tours: York |  Lebanon

Mission/Vision

To educate and prepare development practitioners, humanitarian aid workers, international agencies and local authorities’ planners and administrators to develop the professional, multi-disciplinary knowledge and skills required to plan, implement, manage and evaluate programmes that build towards the sustainable recovery and reconstruction of war-torn societies.

Project History

The PRDU is a fascinating development project since it is unique in its existence of a course designed to prepare scholars for post-war recovery. The course takes a multidisciplinary approach using professionals and practitioners in the field to explore how war can destroy societies and how this destruction can be pieced back together in a successful manner. The course recognises the individual natures of wars in different countries and circumstances and focuses on giving students the insights and analytical skills to deal with varying situations. As one can surely imagine, the process of ‘recovering’ from war must be an incredibly sensitive and fragile one and whilst a speedy ‘aid’ plan might seem necessary the impact that might have in the long term may be less favourable, hence there are many considerations to be made. The Masters course at York University, directed by Sultan Barakat focuses on the following aspects of training the students to: Analyse the situation on a multiplicity of levels, understand it in equally polyphonic levels, acknowledge internationally recognised principles and ethics of reconstruction, examine their roles as professionals in terms of management, organisation, assessment and evaluation etc, work effectively in teams as trainers themselves.

The course has been running since 1992 and has been extremely successful in its training for less than desirable situations, one might hope that the course will become redundant in future years but in the meanwhile does sterling work whilst it is.

Project & ACE

For a number of years ACE has funded a scholarship for the masters course at York (students listed below) but in the recent economic climate it has become more valuable to direct the money towards the annual filed-trip to be divided between all the course participants rather than to any one individual student. The field-trip is an integral part of the course and provides first-hand experience of the situations the students are being trained to deal with. This experience is vital since theory can never match up to the practice of such circumstances particularly when dealing with conflict. There is no question that conflict-torn places are in anyway the same but any experience of any version of such situations will be invaluable to the participants. The students have to do extensive research, before embarking on their often life-changing trip, into the history and climate of the country they will visit. The students are able to actively test and experience theories and concepts they have learnt in class previously, to conduct research and to gain real experience of working within war affected communities.

In 2008 the students visited Jordan. Their research focused on Iraqi’s in Jordan, their existence and perceptions of their existence, and in particular they focused on their access to health care, education and livelihoods. In 2009 the trip was to Lebanon and again proved invaluable to their studies. In 2011 the group went to Sri Lanka.

•2000 – Saman de Silva from Sri Lanka

•2001 Raz Mohammad from Afghanistan

•2002 Anja Simic, Bosnia Herzegovina

•2003 Mashinmango Pango Congo and Indika Perera Sri Lanka

•2006 Raba’a Al Otoom, Jordan