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Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA (Undergraduate): 2.75 Language of Instruction: English
Housing: Hotel Number of Credits Offered: 6
Eligible Population: 03 Junior, 04 Senior, Graduate, Non-Degree Seeking, PhD Type of Program: Faculty-led
Click here for a definition of this term Area of Study: Conflict Analysis and Resolution Minimum GPA (Graduate): 2.75
Program Description:

Eritrea: Challenging Narratives of Development in Post Conflict Settings

Summer 2021

This course offers rare access to Eritrea, a country that has been extremely isolated due to 20-years of conflict and nine years of sanctions. Despite this, Eritrea today may be the purest example of people-based development and African solutions to African problems. The country has no World Bank or USAID programs, and no NGOs, yet surprisingly, the UN reports Eritrea is on target for the SDGs, and is doing ground-breaking work in agriculture and food security. Witness Eritrea as it is emerging from isolation with a 360-view that offers a unique glimpse into the cost of conflict and war, an inspiring look at what a country that is truly devoted to African-led development can do, and an opportunity to witness how narratives can be intertwined – and even become drivers – of conflict and development. 

Eritrea and Ethiopia recently signed a peace agreement that ended their 20-year conflict. The young nation has only seen seven years of peace since gaining independence from Ethiopia in 1991, and prior to that fought a 30-year war to gain independence. Throughout, the leaders have continually espoused a commitment to development, even instituting literacy and health programs while still a rebel force. Given this history, Eritrea provides an ideal opportunity to study the nature of government driven post conflict programming that has not been subjugated to the Global North’s peace building agenda, programming, or assessment strategies. But it also provides an opportunity to explore, and challenge, the narratives about Eritrea, and African development more broadly.

Our trip to Eritrea will focus on the country’s efforts towards self-reliant development, exploring the locally initiated and implemented peace building process that is impacting and transforming the strategically important Horn of Africa. We begin in the capital, Asmara, where we will meet with officials from Eritrean Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture, Social Welfare, and others involved with development.  We will also meet with civil society, international diplomats, and the private sector. We will then drive towards the port city of Massawa along the Red Sea, visiting health clinics, schools, and rural development projects along the way. At the coast, we will see economic development projects and coastline preservation initiatives. After 3 days in the coastal low-land region, we will then return to the capital for the night before venturing south to the high-lands along the great Rift Valley, visiting Eritrea’s agriculture programs, meeting with local governments on decentralization initiatives, visiting schools, clinics and other development projects, including initiatives to integrate people displaced due to war. We will return to the capital in time for Martyr’s Day, the most solemn day on the Eritrean calendar. We will take part in the morning commemoration, visit the “Tank Graveyard” with independence fighter from the 30-year war to hear their recollections and narratives, and later join Eritreans in the evening candlelight procession down the main avenue. Final briefings with government and civil society, followed by an evening cultural reception, will bring to an end our trip to Eritrea.

The course will be taught by Dr. Sara Cobb, founder of S-CAR’s Center for Narrative and Conflict Resolution, author of Speaking of Violence: The Politics and Poetics of Narrative in Conflict Resolution, and a leading authority on narrative discourse in conflict resolution. Joining Dr. Cobb will be Carol Pineau, a journalist and filmmaker who lived in Eritrea, reporting for CNN during the height of the war. Her first documentary, Africa Open for Business, which won the BBC Documentary of the Year and contributed towards changing US media coverage on Africa, was inspired by Eritrea’s unique development model. 


This program is open to all graduate students including students who do not attend George Mason University.


Students will be registered for a 6 credits of coursework. There is an online/Blackboard component that will be open in May and must be completed before the program begins.

Course Options

Graduate: 6 credits
  • Conflict Analysis - CONF 625
  • Conflict Analysis - CONF 704 or CONF 695
Undergraduate: 6 credits - Undergraduates must be a junior or senior to apply for the program.  All undergraduates (from all institutions) must have approval from their academic advisors for this course.
  • Conflict Analysis - CONF 385 International Field Experience
  • Conflict Analysis - CONF 397 Study Abroad Special Topics

Program Dates*

June 7 - June 21, 2021

Please note this course will include an online course requirement that will be available on Blackboard on in December. Students are expected to complete the online requirements before their departure in June.


The dates listed above are in-country days of the program. Students and faculty will travel together as a group to Eritrea.

Important Dates
Blackboard course opens May
Mandatory Pre-trip session May TBD
Leave U.S. June 6
Arrive in Asmara | welcome dinner and Briefing June 7
Briefings with Eritrean Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Education, National Development, Human Welfare, Defense, Justice, Information, the Youth and Student Union, the Women’s Union, and others June 8 - 11
Day trip to see ancient ruins of Qohaito June 12
Day trip to see sites of the major battles during the past war and visit a village created to integrate Eritreans deported from Ethiopia or displaced from the border region. June 13
Day trip to Mendafera, to see regional development.  June 14
Day trip to Keren to see agricultural development, small scale farm program, and camel market June 15
Briefings in Asmara and special trip on historic train June 16
Depart for Massawa and Red Sea coast, visiting the port and economic development projects, as well as conservation projects. Return to Asmara evening of June 18. June 17-18
Briefings in Asmara. Luncheon with Eritrean writers. Candlelight procession on the eve of Martyr’s Day with Asmarinos June 19
Martyr’s Day - Go to commemoration event in the morning. Reflective discussion in the afternoon June 20
Day free in Asmara. Depart Asmara for Addis Ababa and Washington on Ethiopian Airlines. Arrive in Washington on June 21, at 8:15am. (Students may choose a different flight or an extended stay in Asmara.) June 21
* Dates and itinerary subject to change. The Global Education Office reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, and/or any other unforeseen circumstances.

Program Cost

Summer 2020: $4,112

Included: Tuition for 6 credits, double occupancy lodging at local guesthouse, two to three meals per day, guided tours and field excursions as described in itinerary, transportation in Eritrea, international emergency medical insurance.

Not included: Round-trip airfare*, passport and visa fees, personal spending, required textbooks and/or course materials. *Note: Participants must arrange their own airfare once instructed to do so by the program administrator.

Program Payments

Students on S-CAR programs must pay the advertised program cost in order to participate. This cost will be made in two payments (Deposit + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments.

Program Deposit: Accepted students must make a non-refundable program deposit of $500 by Friday, April 19. This fee is paid through the Mason Student Accounts Office. This deposit is included in the program fee.

Final Payment: The final balance payment is due by Friday, May 3. This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $500 you've already paid (Deposit). Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.

Financial Aid and VA Benefits: Students who intend to use financial aid or VA benefits to fund their program fees (partially or in full) must have the "Intent to Use Financial Aid" or "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form" completed and on file with the Global Education Office by the First Payment deadline. The "Intent to Use Financial Aid" form is available in the MasonAbroad application system once you have started your application for this program. If you are using VA Benefits please contact your program officer to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form."

Non-Mason Students: Non-Mason students must be admitted to the University and assigned a student number prior to making payments. Please submit the "Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form" during the application phase in order to begin this process.

Refund and Cancellation Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Refund and Cancellation Policy.

Application Deadline:

April 20, 2020


Application requirements:*

S-CAR Application Questions: This questionnaire includes questions about previous experiences and coursework relevant to your program participation.

Course Selection Questionnaire: You will choose the course(s) you would like to be receive credit for on this program. Check the "Academics" tab to see what courses are offered on this program. If you need help selecting your course, check with your academic advisor.

Passport Status Questionnaire: You do not need a passport to complete this questionnaire or the application. However, if you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now.

Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents regarding the acknowledgement of risk, the pre-departure orientation, and your financial responsibility.

Intent to Use Financial Aid Form: For Mason students only. If you use financial aid, this form must be completed by your financial aid counselor and submitted by the 1st payment deadline.

Additional requirements for non-Mason applicants:

Official transcript: To be mailed or emailed to the Global Education Office at George Mason University.

Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form: Please complete the form and upload it into the questionnaire.

* Additional application requirements may apply to individual programs. Once you open your application, you will see all application requirements.

Application instructions:

GEO Program Administrator

Name Sami Sonkowsky

Academic Director

Name Solon Simmons
Phone 703-993-3781
Name Carol Pineau

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2021 03/10/2021 ** Rolling Admission 06/07/2021 06/21/2021

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.