Human Rights and Peace Studies in the Balkans

Language Requirement: None
Academic Standing by Program Start: Sophomore or Above
Location: Multicountry, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia
GPA: 2.75
Program Overview

This program will not be running in Summer 2024.

At the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, the Balkans represents a diverse mix of cultures, languages, philosophies and religions. Since the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the Balkans remain a global epicenter for peacebuilding, inter-religious dialogue, and the promotion and protection of human rights. Led by Instructors Will Johnson and Emina Buzinkic, students in this program will study the challenges and possibilities of human rights and post-conflict peace-building in one of the most dynamic, beautiful, and diverse regions in the world.

The program includes coursework, guided research, cross-border excursions and time for independent travel.
Peace Studies is an emerging field of law and inter-disciplinary academic study. The countries of the former Yugoslavia—the Balkans—have been at the forefront of international peace-building efforts since the end of the Cold War. Countries such as Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia continue to serve as models for other societies throughout the world that wish to design peaceful post-conflict transitions. Similarly, the peacebuilding projects implemented in these countries since the 1990s helped initiate a global effort to develop culturally specific human rights laws, practices, and institutions. The promotion of human rights, from both an international and domestic perspective, provides the foundation for peace studies. Therefore, students wishing to pursue careers in human rights law or peace studies will need a strong foundation in both disciplines. This program provides an interdisciplinary perspective on these topics that includes an emphasis on law, politics, history, religion, and culture. The Balkans – Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia in particular – serve as a perfect setting for immersion into the challenges and possibilities of these important disciplines.

Scholarship Opportunity: Several Balkans program scholarships will be awarded to students accepted into the Human Rights and Peace Studies in the Balkans program. Scholarship awards will be based on financial need as well as overall quality of applicants’ study abroad applications. The scholarship application is within the program application; speak with your GEO advisor for more information.

Dates and Deadlines

This program will not be running in Summer 2024.


Term Year Priority Deadline Deadline Arrival Date Departure Date
Summer 2022 2/1/2022 3/15/2022 6/18/2022 8/19/2022

Discount for Pell Recipients

To expand access to study abroad, GEO is offering a $400 discount for this program (Summer 2024 and beyond) to UO students who currently have the Pell Grant as part of their federal financial aid (FAFSA).

Academic Details

This program will provide students an exciting opportunity to study two overlapping but distinct disciplines in a region that has witnessed both the challenges and possibilities of human rights and peace building. The program is divided into two distinct parts: 5 weeks of coursework followed by 4 weeks of guided fieldwork; students will have the opportunity to pursue independent travel for one week in the break between the coursework and the fieldwork. The courses (5-week portion) will be held primarily in Zagreb, Croatia, while the fieldwork (4-week portion) will include travel to other parts of Croatia.

During the first part of the program, students will take two core courses: Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention, and Peace Studies in the Balkans. Each course will provide important historical, philosophical, and international perspectives on human rights and peace studies, including efforts undertaken in the Balkans (specifically Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo). The content will be particularly relevant for students majoring in international studies, peace studies, European studies, political science, international development, conflict resolution, and pre-law. However, the program is open to interested students from all majors. These courses will be supplemented with relevant cultural and content-based excursions, both of which will help truly immerse you in the complexities inherent to the peace building process.

After the coursework and one-week break, students will pursue 4 weeks of guided research and fieldwork in throughout Croatia, with multi-night stays in Osijek, Zadar, and Split. During this period students will engage broadly with the affected populations, visit and work alongside peace building and human rights organizations, and gain foundational fieldwork skills through the creation and execution of a guided research project.

UO students: 

  • 5 UO credits for the Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention course
  • 5 UO credits for the Peace Studies in the Balkans course
  • 4 credits for the Research course
  • Note: all classes are approved as INTL 400/500 level credit. The two seminar courses (Human Rights and Intervention and Peace Studies in the Balkans) will also fulfill upper division requirements for Political Science majors/minors.
  • For students from other relevant majors such as HIST, REEES, legal studies, etc., please speak to your departmental advisor about potential cross-approvals for the courses.

Non-UO students: Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your home campus study abroad advisor for more information.

Course Equivalencies

UO students: please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.

Non-UO students: Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

Faculty and Staff

Will Johnson

William Johnson, MA, JD is an Instructor in the International Studies Department and the Undergraduate Legal Studies Program at the University of Oregon. Professor Johnson’s teaching and research interests include human rights and human rights law, transitional justice and post-conflict peace building, corruption, and international development. Professor Johnson designed and led a study abroad program titled “Human Rights and Transitional Justice in Rosario” in Rosario, Argentina (2016 and 2017). Johnson has conducted research, presented papers and lectured on a wide range of topics in the U.S., El Salvador, Argentina, and Pakistan.

In addition to teaching and advising students, Johnson serves as the Assistant Vice Provost for Operations and Innovation in the University of Oregon Office of International Affairs (OIA).
Emina Buzinkic

Emina Buzinkic is a long-time human rights, peace and political education expert based in Zagreb, Croatia. For nearly 15 years, Ms. Buzinkic has served as the Policy Analyst and Educator for the Center for Peace Studies in Zagreb. In recent years, Ms. Buzinkic has also served as the Program Coordinator for the Documenta - Center for Dealing with the Past and as President and Secretary General of the Croatian Youth Network.

Ms. Buzinkic holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Zagreb, and an MA in Pedagogy and Educational Psychology from the University of Rijeka (Croatia), and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development.