Learning from the Yugoslav tragedy in Ljubljana

Photo: www.academic-solutions.com

A recently founded summer school in Ljubljana, dedicated to the study of the Balkan conflicts, re-opened its doors this week. A group of American students will spend July studying the recent conflicts across the former Yugoslavia, with lectures and visits through the region. Michael Manske of Radio Slovenia International has more.

The Yugoslav Wars came to an end five years ago, although the consequences continue to affect the region. The University of Ljubljana and the London-based institute Academic Solutions are now jointly hosting a group of students for the second annual Summer School of Conflict Management in the Balkans. The school runs from the 28th of June to the 4th of August, with activities centered in Ljubljana.

Alenka Jelen from the University of Ljubljana:

"The summer school of Conflict Management in the Balkans is running in its 2nd year now in Slovenia. It started last year, when Ryan Lorenz started the school in 2005. Ryan Lorenz comes from London. He runs the academic solutions institution over there. And he's basically dealing with starting educational programs in Europe and trying to attract American students and American universities to paritipate."

Participating American universities this year include the University of Miami, Washington University, SUNY and Colgate.

The students will attend lectures on conflict management and visit peace institutions in Ljubljana, as well the Slovenian parliament and the American embassy. Some students will also take a crash course in the Slovenian language during their short stay.

But that's not all.

"One special thing that this school has that other summer schools don't is that they actually take them to Croatia and Bosnia. They also wanted to take them to Serbia but it didn't work out, because there were some problems getting student visas and stuff. But, they will go to Croatia and Bosnia. They will speak to local representatives of peace institutes. They will speak to representatives from government in both Croatia and Bosnia. And they will also talk to people who went through the war, who actually experienced it and learn what you can't get from books."

The trip is expected to last ten days. Last year's group held emotional meetings with survivors of the siege of Vukovar, an early and bloody engagement of the war.

The goal of the study is to provide students with a better overview of the bitterly fought conflict, and also to bring them into direct contact with some of its consequences.