Embarking on a global odyssey: Keough School's MGA-IPS students set to transform the world

Author: Lisa Gallagher

(Left to right) Fatima Faisal Khan, Halkano Boru, and Aleithia Low are among the MGA students gaining practical experience through internships.
(Left to right) Fatima Faisal Khan, Halkano Boru, and Aleithia Low are among the MGA students gaining practical experience through internships.

Picture this: A group of intrepid second-year students, brimming with passion and commitment, poised to dive headfirst into a world of transformative experiences. These are the students of the Master of Global Affairs program, specializing in International Peace Studies (MGA-IPS) at the Keough School of Global Affairs. Their mission? To become the world's future peacebuilders, and they're doing it through an extraordinary six-month internship program spanning the globe, all under the wing of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Their journey doesn't just involve a whirlwind tour of nonprofits worldwide; it's a transformative experience that will shape the trajectory of their careers.

During their internships--which run from July until December 15--they aren't just passive observers; they're researchers, plunging into the tumultuous seas of real-world peacebuilding. These six months of hands-on experience become the raw material for their final capstone projects, which will bridge the gap between academic theories and practical peacebuilding. Preparation for field placements starts early, with students beginning coursework in their first academic year that equips them with the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical skills in strategic peacebuilding. Additionally, students actively explore potential partner organizations where their expertise can contribute to the organization's needs while also providing them with a rich learning environment.

“Field placements are a crucial part of our students’ journey to becoming reflective scholar-practitioners,” said Norbert Koppensteiner, director of the International Peace Studies concentration (Master of Global Affairs) and associate teaching professor at the Keough School of Global Affairs. “Our students gain invaluable practical experience with leading organizations in the field of peacebuilding and systematically reflect on those insights in their capstone research projects.”

One student, Aleithia Low (MGA '24), is interning with Dunna, a Colombian nonprofit specializing in restorative practices for trauma healing and collective reconciliation. She's delving deep into the intricacies of mental health and psychosocial support in the backdrop of the Colombian conflict. Her burning question: “How can restorative justice practices scale up from the grassroots to the national level?”

Halkano Boru (MGA ‘24), interning at the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) Special Envoy office, highlights the strategic importance of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region. This geographical hotspot is transforming narratives and connections between continents. “Increasing dialogues among diplomats, lawmakers, security officials, businesspersons and institutions has led to a growing awareness of the diminishing borders between the Gulf and Horn of Africa,” he said.

Fatima Faisal Khan (MGA ‘24) is gaining practical experience with the Human Rights team at the Wikimedia Foundation. Her internship enables her to acquire essential skills that allow her to tackle peacebuilding challenges in a technologically-driven world. “This will enable me to approach problems from both a social science lens and a technical one,”

In total, students have secured internships at 13 different organizations in 10 diverse locations, ranging from Baltimore to Bogotá, Nairobi to New York City, and Geneva to San Francisco, including:

The Keough School's MGA-IPS program is nurturing a new generation of leaders, poised to tackle the world's most pressing issues. Their journeys are a testament to the power of education, passion, and the unyielding belief in the possibility of change. These students are not just learning about peace; they're out in the world, creating it, one internship at a time.

Originally published by Lisa Gallagher at kroc.nd.edu on October 11, 2023.