PACS and MPACS student experiences

Friday, February 15, 2019

Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) students and Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) students have the opportunity to explore and apply the theories that they learn in the classroom through a variety of programs that take them out of the classroom. These programs include internships, travel courses, volunteering, and independent readings or research courses. The following are just a few of the experiences that PACS and MPACS students have taken part in.   

Devina Lookman promotes maternal health in Uganda | Apolline Montoya engages with NGOs at the United Nations | Kelsey Gallagher presents co-authored paper at peace conference


Devina Lookman promotes maternal health in Uganda 

Devina LookmanDevina Lookman

Devina Lookman completed her internship with FullSoul Canada in Mukono, Uganda. Her role as Project Manager was to expand FullSoul’s Maternal Medical Kit program in hospitals and governmental health centres in south central Uganda. “In a nutshell, I took the lead on implementation, team logistics, and grants and funding,” Devina explained.

Devina described her time with FullSoul Canada as “stretching,” as it took her out of her comfort zone and compelled her to grow into a better leader and advocate. During her internship, Devina realized that she was no longer just a student, but a “world changer.” Her work with FullSoul Canada aided healthcare professionals that serve mothers, and serving mothers “provides a more promising future for each family that walks out of the health centres and hospitals,” Devina noted.

Critical thinking skills learned from her PACS courses allowed Devina to carefully analyze situations that she encountered, for example, in applying for grants and in building relationships with midwives in each health centre. Her internship, as Devina said, “taught me to have discernment when it comes to what to criticize and analyze, rather than be critical with every situation I encountered that was unfamiliar.” In pairing her classroom PACS learning with the knowledge she gained during her internship, Devina learned how to use her critical thinking skills constructively.   


Apolline Montoya engages with NGOs at the United Nations 

Apolline Montoya at the UNApolline Montoya at the UN

During her MPACS education, Apolline Montoya had the opportunity to examine classroom theory in the light of real life situations by completing an internship with at the United Nations Director General’s Office. Apolline worked in the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Liaison Unit to strengthen links between the UN and Civil Society, particularly through the Human Rights Council.

During her time at the UN, Apolline had the opportunity to engage in meetings and events that benefitted her both personally and vocationally. “All of the events that I was able to attend and participate in were extremely enriching for me,” Apolline noted. These events, including three weeks of Human Rights Council meetings, were organized by both the UN and the various NGOs that Apolline worked with. Participating in these activities, Apolline said, “was an amazing opportunity to learn from experts in their fields.”

Apolline’s experience at the Office of the Director General also helped to clarify her plans for the future. “I was not sure what the next step was before these four months but now I know I am heading towards a career in human rights and mediation.” Apolline was thankful for classes taken during her MPACS education, as they taught her theoretical foundations of conflict analysis tools, non violent communication, Circle process, and mediation which were especially useful during her time at the UN.

Kelsey Gallagher presents co-authored paper at peace conference

portrait photo of Kelsey GallagherKelsey Gallagher

Kelsey Gallagher presented a paper that he co-authored with Lowell Ewert, Associate Professor of PACS, at the Peace and Justice Studies Association annual conference in September 2018. Kelsey began working on the paper as a research assistant during his MPACS education. The paper, entitled “Efficacy of Op-eds as a Tool for Social Change,” examined the use of op-ed sections in Southern Ontario print media as a means to systematically disseminate opinions by right-wing think tanks.

Kelsey described writing and presenting the paper as an amazing experience that “greatly informed my self-confidence as a researcher and communicator.” Research methods learned through his MPACS education helped Kelsey significantly in the process of writing and presenting the paper. The opportunity to see the paper through to completion and present it to leaders in the Peace and Conflict Studies field has, Kelsey said, “boosted my awareness of my own capacities.”

Kelsey hopes that the paper will go on to assist in peacemaking by informing “other progressive movements and peacebuilders on how to scale up their own messaging efforts through existing media channels.”


Devina Lookman promotes maternal health in Uganda | Apolline Montoya engages with NGOs at the United Nations | Kelsey Gallagher presents co-authored paper at peace conference

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