Tag Archives: Northern Ireland Semester

Visiting Lang Professor Denise Crossan Touts Social Entrepreneurship

By Ryan Dougherty
September 9th, 2015
Swarthmore College website

Dr. Denise CrossanIs social entrepreneurship an oxymoron?

It has been for many philanthropists, who worry that building a business model will compromise their mission, and for businesspersons who deem the social part too “touchy feely.” But that’s changing, says Denise Crossan.

“Increasingly, I have students and community members coming to me saying, ‘I have this great business idea, and it’s also going to address a societal problem,’” she says. “There’s definitely space for both.”

Crossan will navigate students through that space as the Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change this year, responding to a budding interest in doing well and doing good.

“There’s real appetite from students here who want to be engaged in giving back to society through sustainable enterprise,” she says. “It’s about building an organization that makes money that can be reinvested into social purpose or impact.”

Crossan is offering two courses this year through the Peace and Conflict Studies program. This fall, she is teaching a class on what social entrepreneurship is and how to engage in it. In the spring, she will teach a course she calls “finding your inner social entrepreneur,” targeting students who have identified a social issue to which they would like to apply a business model.

“It’s about giving them the space to convert their idea into a viable, sustainable enterprise that creates measurable social change,” says Crossan, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the subject.

“If anyone wants to have a conversation about their research or interests or work that might potentially spin out into social entrepreneurship and wants to come talk with me, I’d be delighted,” she says.

Crossan comes to Swarthmore from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Business, where she was appointed assistant professor of social entrepreneurship — the first post of its kind in Ireland — in 2009. However, it was her background as community business advisor for the European Union Program for Peace & Reconciliation that helped pave her way to Swarthmore.

John Van Til ’61, professor emeritus of urban studies and community planning at Rutgers University, Camden, was one of Crossan’s external examiners for her Ph.D. Noting her deep knowledge of community organizations in Northern Ireland, he mentioned that Swarthmore was looking for someone to set up a study abroad program there. Crossan’s discussions with Steven Piker, former professor of anthropology and advisor to the Off-Campus Study Office, and Rosa Bernard, assistant director of the Off-Campus Study Office, yielded a successful Northern Ireland Program based in Derry and Belfast that has sent 12 Swarthmore students to study peace and reconciliation with Trinity College students since 2005.

Visiting Swarthmore’s campus each year, Crossan developed admiration for the people and purpose of the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility.

“I thought, ‘We need the Lang Center in Ireland,’” she says. “They inspired me to work toward setting up the Trinity Centre for Social Engagement [pdf], which will foster social innovation and entrepreneurial action and help us to understand meaningful engagement in society.”

Crossan also sits on a panel of experts in social entrepreneurship for the European Commission, whose responsibilities include advising the commission on the development of the Social Business Initiative across the European Union. She is creating a digital map of social enterprise and eager to engage Swarthmore students in mapping social entrepreneurship in Philadelphia and beyond.

Before she could outline her academic plans for the coming year, though, Crossan had to overcome what she called the “information overload” of re-locating to the U.S.: “new house, new job, new car, new I.D.”

But since she was born and spent the first 10 years of her life in Ohio, it’s not all new.

“Things that I remember from when I was little are coming back to me,” she says. “It’s the small things, like the sounds of people cutting their grass at night or the bugs in the trees.”

And she already feels at home in the Swarthmore community.

“They’re just the most engaged and incredibly deep-thinking group of individuals you could possibly meet,” she says. “Even better, it comes without judgment. It’s an incredible institution with fabulous thinkers, which is also very humble, open to new thoughts and people and contributions. That, I absolutely love.”

Northern Ireland study abroad interest lunch with David Tombs



Semester in Northern Ireland Program

Please join Professor David Tombs for lunch

Thursday, November 21st, Noon, Sharples #5

Prof. David Tombs
Prof. David Tombs

Professor David Tombs, Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation for the Irish School of Ecumenics, will meet with interested students and answer questions.

The program provides students a unique opportunity to study conflict, ongoing peace building efforts, and social entrepreneurship in local communities in Northern Ireland, a region in a critical transition after 30 years of violent political and ethnic struggle. Students work (for supervised credit) within local community organizations while studying conflict, peace, and reconciliation at the Irish School for Ecumenics of Trinity College at its Belfast campus. Community placements can be tailored to fit your particular academic interests (e.g. theatre as peace building, culture and conflict, transitional politics, segregated education, cross-border economics, etc.)

The Semester in Northern Ireland is based in two geographic locations, Derry / Londonderry or Belfast, but student involvement with community groups may take place elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Students may register for one semester or two, and further possibilities for summer research and/or service work may arise.

Visit the Northern Ireland Semester website where you can read more about the program, including student contributions to the program’s blog.  Also visit the new program website.

All students are welcome to participate in the program. For Peace and Conflict Studies students, all four credits may be applied toward the minor.

Contact Professor Lee Smithey at lsmithe1 or Rosa Bernard at rbernar1

Transforming Ethnopolitical Conflict course aligns with visiting mural artist residency

Drop-add has begun, and spots are available in Professor Lee Smithey’s course, Transforming Intractable Conflict (SOCI 025B).  This course is registered in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology but can also be counted toward a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.

How can long-term deadly conflicts between groups with opposing ethnic identities change in ways that diminish violence and open up opportunities for more constructive forms of conflict in democratic and civil society? This course operates from an assumption that one must often dig deeply into the psychological and cultural dynamics that underpin division in ethno-political conflicts. Northern Ireland will serve as the primary case study for this kind of deep exploration.

"No More" mural, Northern Ireland

The course will include a unique opportunity in Fall 2013 as funding has been secured from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to bring a mural artist, David “Dee” Craig, from Belfast for a month-long residency beginning after Fall Break in October. Our class will have the opportunity to explore with the artist the role of mural making in conflict, division, peacebuilding, and community relations in Northern Ireland. We hope we will also be able to participate in the painting of a mural on campus! For photos of some of the artist’s work, visit http://bit.ly/14iiDUH

The course description for SOAN 025B reads:

This course will address the sociology of peace processes and intractable identity conflicts in deeply divided societies. Northern Ireland will serve as the primary case study, and the course outline will include the history of the conflict, the peace process, and grassroots conflict transformation initiatives. Special attention will be given to the cultural underpinnings of division, such as sectarianism and collective identity, and their expression through symbols, language, and collective actions, such as parades and commemorations.

Eligible for PEAC credit.

1 credit.


This course can serve as a pre-requisite for students wishing to study in Northern Ireland as part of the college’s Northern Ireland Semester program. See http://northernireland.swarthmore.edu

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the instructor, Lee Smithey at lsmithe1@swarthmore.edu


Duncan Morrow on 35 Years of Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland

Dr. Duncan MorrowLessons for Peacebuilders:

Northern Ireland and 35 Years of Community Relations Work

Dr. Duncan Morrow

The University of Ulster

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

4:15 – 5:30 p.m.

Science Center 183

Swarthmore College

(Maps and directions) (Download a flyer)

Dr. Duncan Morrow served for a decade as the Executive Director of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council and is one of the most knowledgeable people in Northern Ireland when it comes to ethnopolitical conflict, peacebuilding, and community relations.

Northern Ireland is in a state of transition; large-scale organized political violence has all but ended, yet it remains a deeply divided society that, by many measures, is becoming increasingly segregated. On March 20, Dr. Morrow will speak at the college and assess almost 35 years of peacebuilding work during “the Troubles” and since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

Morrow is a co-author of The Equity, Diversity and Interdependence Framework  that has been highly influential in shaping community relations work in Northern Ireland.

He has recently returned to his post as a Lecturer in the Department of Criminology, Politics, and Social Policy at the University of Ulster, where he also serves as the university’s Director of Community Engagement.

This event is open to the public and is sponsored by the Northern Ireland Semester, Peace and Conflict Studies, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, the Rotary Club of Swarthmore, the Provost’s Office, and Sociology and Anthropology

Duncan Morrow spoke on the subject of creating a shared future at the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Observatory project’s Community Convention.

New video: Swarthmore’s Northern Ireland Semester

In honor of Dr. Denise Crossan’s arrival in Swarthmore today, we’re launching a new promotional video presentation about the Northern Ireland Semester. Watch it here or at https://vimeo.com/52799720

North Ireland Semester from Swarthmore Peace Studies on Vimeo.

Dr. Crossan is the Regional Director of the Swarthmore College Northern Ireland Semester Programme. Visit http://northernireland.swarthmore.edu If you are even vaguely interested in the Northern Ireland Semester, please contact Rosa Bernard (rbernar1) in the Off Campus Study office TODAY to see if you can arrange to meet with Denise Crossan about the possibility of studying in Northern Ireland.  You don’t have to commit to the program to chat and imagine what your semester in Northern Ireland might look like. There will also be a general information session about the program on Tuesday at noon in Sharples Room 6, which you are welcome to attend.

We hope you’ll be able to attend Denise’s lecture on social entrepreneurship tomorrow / Monday afternoon at 4:15 p.m.; see https://blogs.swarthmore.edu/academics/2012/10/24/crossan-lecture-social-entrepreneurship/ for more information.

Dr. Denise Crossan

Follow the Northern Ireland Semester at:



Announcing a new book by Lee Smithey on conflict transformation in Northern Ireland

Unionists Loyalists and Conflict Transformation in Northern IrelandThe Peace and Conflict Studies program announces the release of a new book by Prof. Lee Smithey. Unionists, Loyalists, and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland is now available from Oxford University Press.

Drawing on almost twenty years of studying and traveling to Northern Ireland, including sustained periods of intensive fieldwork, Smithey focuses on the importance of collective identity change that is central to conflict transformation. He argues that it is important for ethnopolitical division to be addressed from within ideologically committed quarters of divided societies. In this case, he finds that many unionists and loyalists are modifying symbolic and often ritualistic expressions of collective identity that have often been considered divisive, such as parades, bonfires, and murals, and

Lee Smithey

are making them less polarizing. The development and modification of these activities provide opportunities for the incremental reframing of fundamental ethnopolitical ideas and narratives. If you are interested in studying peace processes from grassroots psychocultural angles, this book might appeal to you.

You can read more about the book and order copies at Oxford University Press and Amazon.com (where a Kindle version is available.) A pdf flyer and a mail-in order form are also available.

Here are full links for the U.S., U.K., and Ireland

Find other books by Peace and Conflict Studies faculty at Swarthmore here.