Do your homework: the RVI East Africa/Horn of Africa courses 2013

Most people I meet here in Juba are frantically reading about South Sudan; pretty much anything they can get their hands on.  The sheer complexity of living and attempting to work here – let alone run organisations in South Sudan – means that, firstly, people realize that they don’t know enough; then they realize they don’t know enough history; then they realize they don’t have enough time.

Which is why pre-reading is important.  Not just the usual suspects – as I mentioned, I think, Douglas H. Johnson is out here working with me on the National Archives project and while we are a terrifying team (I hope), I am constantly reminded that he wrote the seminal book on South Sudan’s civil wars – but the extended, historical pre-reading and thought, the realization that you can’t just read about the CPA period, and the increasingly prevalent and frustrating idea that you can work in South Sudan without trying to understand Sudan.

So this is why I’m going to do a shameless plug.  Most of the heads of missions and embassies here in Juba are alumni of the Rift Valley Institute’s Field Courses; I assisted my PhD supervisor, Professor Justin Willis of Durham University, in running the 2012 course last summer.  And despite having just spent a year’s worth of time in an excellent library, in six archives, and doing very little work that wasn’t reading, writing and thinking about Sudan and South Sudan, it was extremely intensive and absolutely vital to my understanding of the two countries.

I can’t recommend the Sudan and South Sudan course enough; the other courses I hear from previous participants are just as intensive and worthwhile.  (They are also fabulous networking opportunities.)  So, despite my RVI affiliation, I’m plugging.  Find the briefs and outlines below.

Rift Valley Institute Field Courses 2013

The Rift Valley Institute’s three field courses, now in their tenth year, offer a unique opportunity to spend an intensive week with an outstanding group of experts and fellow participants, away from routine distractions. Taught by teams of leading regional and international specialists, the courses provide the basis for an understanding of current political and developmental challenges in Eastern and Central Africa. The innovative programme of seminars, lectures, group discussions and special events examines key environmental, political and cultural features of the three sub-regions, contextualizing contemporary problems. They are designed for policy-makers, diplomats, investors, development workers, researchers, activists and journalists––for new arrivals to the region and those already working there who wish to deepen their understanding.

Horn of Africa Course

Saturday 8 – Friday 14 June

The sixth Horn of Africa course will take place in Jinja, Uganda, from 8 to 14 June 2013. The course covers Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland and Northern Kenya. In 2013, it offers a multi-disciplinary examination of the crises afflicting the Horn and explores the impact of changes in political leaders at the national and sub-national level across the region. Director of Studies Ken Menkhaus will be joined by a core teaching staff of Mark Bradbury, RVI Horn of Africa and East Africa Regional Director, Dereje Feyissa of the Institute of Federal Studies at Addis Ababa University, and Hussein Abdullahi Mahmoud of Pwani University College in Kenya. A course prospectus, containing further details on all three courses, is attached or can be downloaded here. Apply online here.

The Great Lakes Course

Saturday 22 – Friday 28 June

The fourth Great Lakes Course will be held in Jinja, Uganda, from 22 to 28 June 2013. The Director of Studies will be Jason Stearns, whose continuing series of Usalama Project reports on the armed groups of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are available for free download here. The Deputy Director of Studies is Emily Paddon, Trudeau Scholar and Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Oxford. They will be joined on the core teaching staff by Pascal Kambale, Deputy Director of AfriMAP, Koen Vlassenroot of the University of Ghent, and Jean Omasombo of the Royal Museum for Central Africa at Tervuren. A course prospectus, containing further details on all three courses, is attached or can be downloaded here. Apply online here.

Sudan and South Sudan Course

Saturday 6 – Friday 12 July

The tenth RVI course on Sudan and South Sudan will be held in Jinja, Uganda, from 6 to 12 July 2013. The course will again be under the direction of Justin Willis of the University of Durham. Core teaching staff will include Magdi el-Gizouli of Freiburg University, Joanna Oyediran of the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, and Douglas Johnson, author of The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars. A course prospectus, containing further details on all three courses, is attached or can be downloaded here. Apply online here.

For further details of the format, syllabus and core teaching staff of the courses, please see the attached course prospectus, or download it here. Alternatively you can visit or write to You can apply online here or via The application deadline is 31 March 2013. Applications will be considered in order of receipt.


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Filed under South Sudan, Sudan, Uncategorized

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