CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: 2017 Practicum on Experiential Peacebuilding

Be part of an international community of students and practitioners working toward peace.

Ten days in the Costa Rican rainforest becomes the learning adventure of a lifetime.
With each challenge overcome, you will grow: within yourself, as a leader, as a community, as a peacebuilder.

Challenge yourself to the learning adventure of a lifetime.

About the course

Developed for professionals and students with a focus on conflict resolution and peacebuilding, the Practicum allows participants to learn, practice and apply conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills experientially while building community with a diverse group. The Practicum fills the critical gap between the theory provided in academic settings and the need for applied conflict resolution and field based skills sought by employers. What is my leadership style? How do I relate to and communicate with others? How do we create deliberate communities focused on nonviolent change? What is the role of the environment as both an obstacle and an opportunity for peacebuilding? These are the questions the participants will explore and live together in the learning laboratory of a 10-day expedition.

During the expedition, participants hike in the Central Mountain Range of Costa Rica, a remote lush region accessible only by foot and divided by the Savegre River. The experience includes backpacking, hiking, a homestay with a Costa Rican family, an overnight solo, and a waterfall rappel. Each day starts with a theme that participants explore in pairs or small groups. Interactive workshops introduce new skills and approaches. The wilderness aspect of the expedition, the group dynamics of new and diverse individuals offer opportunities to practice effective listening, compassionate leadership and a deepening of cultural understanding. The expedition will conclude with a one-day workshop at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica. Participants receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program. In a recent evaluation, alums stated unequivocally that they are more effective leaders because of their participation in this course.

Designed for working professionals and students who seek to get out of the classroom to apply and advance their leadership, empathy and conflict resolution skills, the Practicum on Experiential Peacebuilding (“Practicum”) is a 10-day expedition based course that combines a unique wilderness experience with experiential learning techniques in a multi-cultural environment.

Program Goals

GOAL 1: Cultivate compassionate leaders who are committed to sustainable change across divides
Participant will
• Explore and understand leadership style (strengths and limitations)
• Develop empathy and put it into practice
• Challenge cultural assumptions and deepen understanding of the “other”
• Develop personal visions for peace and sustainable change

GOAL 2: Advance leaders’ skills in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and conflict transformation
Participant will:
• Explore conflict as an opportunity for learning and creative response
• Understand and practice skills in consensus building
• Examine personal triggers and develop strategies for managing them
• Develop effective techniques for nonviolent communication

GOAL 3: Foster connection to and respect for the environment
Participant will:
• Recognize the connections between peace, environment and conflict
• Identify environmental components from peacebuilding experience
• Gain appreciation for and sense of responsibility for the environment

GOAL 4: Create and strengthen active networks of peacebuilders
Participant will:
• Demonstrate the ability to effectively work with diverse viewpoints
• Understand the importance of networks in peacebuilding
• Strengthen and expand peacebuilding network

GOAL 1: Cultivate compassionate leaders who are committed to sustainable change across divides

GOAL 2: Advance leaders’ skills in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and conflict transformation

GOAL 3: Foster connection to and respect for the environment

GOAL 4: Create and strengthen active networks of peacebuilders

The Need

More broadly, in a 2015 speech, Randall Bass, Vice Provost for Education at Georgetown University, focused on experiential learning, community engagement, service and experience abroad as critical components in the design of universities of the future. Furthermore, at a May 2015 career panel at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), representatives from Ashoka, The Institute for Inclusive Security, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace and Development Collaborative Network agreed that empathy was the most important trait they sought in new hires.

For over 75 years, Outward Bound has provided active learning expeditions that inspire character development, cultivate empathy and compassion and nurture leadership. Outward Bound Peacebuilding, an independent member of the global Outward Bound community, uses the power of the Outward Bound model to challenge and inspire leaders in divided communities to build peace together. Outward Bound Peacebuilding programs have engaged more than 200 peacebuilding leaders from 22 countries and 6 continents such as Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Rwanda, Syria, Israel and the Philippines, among others. Participants include educators, entrepreneurs, business and religious leaders and students. We partner with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community and civil society organizations, colleges and universities around the world, including many of the 40 Outward Bound Schools in 37 countries.

One of the most critical findings of the 2010 Report of The United States Institute of Peace on the topic of graduate education in peace and conflict was the need for field experience and applied skills in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

What is experiential peacebuilding?

The theory behind this work is that experiential learning can build common language and empathy, accelerate trust and facilitate positive experiences among adversaries. Substantial evidence shows that certain types of experience, particularly cooperative learning toward the mastery of critical life skills, and sharing a peak life experience, are especially likely to increase the capacity for compassion towards others and promote group solidarity.

Experiential peacebuilding is a term we use to describe an approach that applies experiential learning or “learning by doing” to the challenge of building relationships between people on different sides of conflict.

Participants' Experiences

Read more about past participants’ experiences on the Practicum on our blog.


Check out photos from previous Practicums.

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Practicum Flyer

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Applications due by Oct. 3, 2016

Program at a Glance

Day 1: Preparation
Days 2 – 8: On the Trail, Backpacking, Homestay, Overnight Solo, Rappel
Day 9: UPEACE Day
Day 10: Closure


4 – 13 January 2017 (10 days)

Course begins at 9AM in San Jose. Participants should plan to arrive by Tuesday, January 3rd and not fly out before 2PM on the 13th.


Piedras Blancas, Costa Rica. Participants will fly into San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO).


$2350 USD. This does not include the cost of  incidentals, airfare, and visas.


Click here to visit our FAQ page.

Contact Outward Bound Peacebuilding

E-mail: programs[at]

Tel.: +1 (347) 537-4516