Keeping a journal

Keeping a journal helps you to "teach yourself" by reflecting on your daily experiences. While your host organization has made a commitment to providing you with a learning opportunity, the people with whom you will work will still be more focused on meeting the goals of their organization than with meeting your learning goals. In fact, you would not have an authentic learning opportunity if it were otherwise.

A learning journal involves regularly recording your experiences, observations, and insights. It provides you with an opportunity to "make personal sense" of your journey, while also connecting this journey to aspects of your academic knowledge of Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) themes and issues. It can also involve reading

  1. books or articles that help to explain your location,
  2. the theory or concepts that inform practices associated with your work placement, or
  3. items that provide context or colour to the culture or organization with which you are working.

While extra reading is not required, an effort to do extra relevant reading will enhance your experience as well as enrich your reflections. A good place to start is the internship research bibliography.

Journals should include the following items in bold:

Title page

  • Name and identification number
  • Placement location and organization
  • Dates of your Internship placement (beginning date to end date)
  • Term and year in which you are submitting your work (e.g. Winter 2017)

Two-to-four page summary of your experience, including:

  • Brief description of location and organization
  • Short description of your work including key activities or achievements
  • Short description of your accommodations (this is for placements where your "work" involved living in an unfamiliar setting)
  • Key learnings
  • Key challenges
  • Conclusion

Main journal entries

  • At least 12 different 2-3 page (double spaced) reflections.  These can include photos or other materials that enhance your comments. Elements of your entries might include:
    • Date of entry
    • Brief description of your main activities in the time period
    • Comments about the major achievements or challenges in terms of projects, tasks, or people in the period you are discussing
    • Reflections on how you see your experience relating to peace and conflict theory – e.g., is there a particular PACS course that you remember because of your current context?
    • Reflections on how you see growth in your understanding or experience
    • Thoughts about how an article or book you have read or are reading impacts your experience or helps you to see it differently or more deeply

Think about your entries totaling 25-30 pages (or more, if you wish). If the above outline does not suit your learning goals for the body of your journal, feel free to create another one. The point is that you develop a system for reflection that makes the most of this learning opportunity.

If you are doing significant research work for your placement, some of that can be included in this section if the organization for which you work agrees.

Conclusion

  • A wrap-up 1-3 pages that details the significant aspects of your experience and what you take away from it. For example, you can talk about:
    • Did you experience any changes in your perspectives over the time of your work? Why or why not?
    • If you faced some deep challenges, how did you overcome them and what have you learned from them?

Your journal may also include:

  • Bibliography and Footnotes
    • If you refer to other writings, presentations, video or other materials, you should credit your sources. While bibliography and footnote format will not be graded, you should find some way in your journal of clearly indicating where you have borrowed other's ideas. This could be as minimal as giving an in-text citation citing the author, title, date and page number of the work to which you refer. You are welcome, as well, to include a formal bibliography and use footnote format.
  • Appendices
    • For your own records you may also want to add appendices that include:
      • Your original proposal for the course
      • Materials from your organization that you used for orientation or which describe your context or work in a meaningful way to you
      • Projects or items you created in your placement you would like to keep
      • YouTube video clip links, photos, newspaper articles, and websites that provided you with useful information

Note: It is also permissible to compose your journal in a non-traditional format such as a blog or scrapbook (interspersing photos and materials with text and substantial commentary/interpretation as well as captions), so long as you do your best to meet most of the above criteria and expectations.