What former students thinks about the programme
What I thought about the programme?
Distance learning?, how does it works?
The future, how does this programme help me with my future career/life?
"I would not hesitate to call this programme a unique educational experience. After several years of graduate and post-graduate studies, I was expecting courses filled with theoretical readings to read and digest in the solitude of a cup of tea and in front of the screen. However, this programme was a true surprise. Since the very beginning, the professors invited us, students, to unleash our imagination and make use of our life stories to engage with the contents of the recommended readings and books. Such an exercise of 'magical realism' was a novelty in my education, and a very welcomed one.
Distance learning has, almost paradoxically, increased the opportunities for supervision. Each course was structured in weekly assignments, which were systematically reviewed and commented by the professor responsible for the course. Furthermore, a process of peer-review among students ensured a collective way of learning and helped to reduce the solitude of distance education. In addition to distance learning, the programme has included a compulsory (and somewhat intensive) campus week, which is essential to personally know the students and the professors and to truly feel part of the community of Uppsala University.
This programme has helped my personal and academic development in several ways. I have learned and experimented with different methods of social sciences research. More importantly, the nine months of studies helped me to reflect about my identity as a social scientist, as well as to understand how doing research is not a mere stylistic exercise, but a transformative means to improve the life of others. It was a highly demanding and intense programme, especially with a full-time job to take care of, but I would not hesitate to do it again."
"A generally positive experience. I was super motivated at the beginning and the peer review format seemed to work rather well. However, by the second year we all longed extended and thorough individual feedback and contact from mentors for guidance and clarification on more complex thorny issues. Generally from my experience, I would say that it seems RPC is rather under-resourced. A lot of the time we were working alone and supervisors simply did not have the means/free time to deal with our queries and concerns adequately. This was disappointing. The exception to this was Håkan Bengtsson who mentored me my during my thesis. He was excellent, responsive and very helpful indeed.
Distance learning: I think it works for the most part and is convenient for people who simply could not afford to do a course like this full time, or by living in Sweden. People like me! RPC could certainly vary the style and content of online exercises and focus more on more interactive group seminars, talks, brainstorming sessions in real time via skype or some such tool online. Too often it was rather disconnected from the human social experience and we were working alone. Videos and audio lessons could motivate people more too.
I enjoyed the rather libertarian format of the MA and some of Brian Palmer's courses were oddly effective in getting us thinking and writing. We got a solid enough basis of the fundamentals in the first year and then we gradually starting feeling our way into our own particular niche of interest. Due to the nature of the course we could fully explore this sphere of interest, develop it and mould it into something real, useful and that might help others in the field in future. That was rewarding. This was something I would never have been able to do outside of the parametres of this MA. For that I am very grateful."
"When I submitted my application for the Master in Religion in Peace and Conflict, I would never imagine that this would lead to a life changing moment where I would challenge my own experiences and my own life goals and worldview.
I met people from all over the world with different mindsets and views. I traveled to the history through the reading material and I was given the opportunity to discover personal and community stories that I would never dare to touch. I learnt to think out of the box and I got out of my comfort zone.
Apart from this, the programme and my professors taught me how to combine the creativity, the imagination with the methodology and the academic way. Thanks to the motivation and the inspiration that they offered me, I found the courage to touch sensitive minority stories such as the Jewish past of cities and the reactions towards Jews.
Closing this year, with my dissertation on my hands, I would say that although it is a distance based program, I never realized that I am far from the University. We all have a strong feeling of class and family and what suprised me was the feeling of solidarity that had been developed among us. I will always remember that this program made my heart sing and become a change maker!"
"The Religion in Peace and Conflict programme is a great way to be able to study while travelling around abroad or working. All you need is a laptop and a reliable internet connection. During the programme l managed to visit about 20 different countries on three continents. I found it especially rewarding to study different contemporary issues and religious perspectives while being able to emerge myself in different cultures and enjoy them in "real life". It somehow gives a sense of added value to the topics under study. A key feature of the programme is the connection to ethical and moral questions and how such dilemmas may influence both the researcher and research participants. Most of the courses included creative and thought-provoking elements, it is hard to describe how valuable these are in a distance learning situation. Simply put, I believe these creative elements encouraged me to think one step further. Assignments became more like full-package solutions rather than the questions - answers type of assignments. This also makes it much more interesting to share and read each other’s assignments.
Distance learning may not be for everyone. It requires a degree of discipline because there will be plenty of deadlines to keep track of. However, once you get into it you will realize the benefit of not having a set daily schedule. I think it's a great way to study, not only does it give flexibility and increased ownership of the final product, it also allows for people with different preferences to learn in ways that makes sense to them.
I'm still not sure how this programme will help me in my career, it's too early to say. What I can say is that I have grown as a person. I am more capable of managing my time effectively and I'm now more aware of how I may positively influence others and how others may influence me. Finally, I feel that I'm now able to approach different topics and issues more objectively and I have an increased sense of understanding and respect for people with opinions that differ from my own."
"I have really enjoyed studying the Masters in Religion in Peace and Conflict. Having reached the end point, I realize how much work I have completed and how fast it has gone! Nearly two years of study has been very rewarding.
Distance learning is challenging and it takes a lot of effort to make sure that you meet the weekly assignment deadlines. The programme is structured in such a way that it is much easier to create a routine and stick to it. Once you have your routine in place it is much easier to find the time to study, complete and submit your assignments.
Because everything you need for the programme online, everything is very accessible, and it is possible to engage with your peers. Sometimes it is difficult to form relations with your peers but everyone makes an effort to share documents and to give you informative responses to your work in the peer review exercises.
The best part of the programme was the focus on Real Life Interventions. The programme pushes you to consider how your actions and thoughts can be used to support or inform others. Through this, I have been able to publish work in an international newspaper, use my research to send policy recommendations to my employer, and finally to complete independent research that I hope to use to support changes in policies and procedures for LGBTQ staff working for international organizations. The programme is excellent at focusing your motivation and developing your courage to use what you learn in the modules and to try new things that are invaluable to your career after your studies. "
"I found this programme to be both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. The course covers a range of topics that I'd never considered before, and I learned a lot about academic methods that I had no idea existed. I feel that studying this programme has equipped me with a great deal of analytical and methodological skills which are applicable to both academia and professional environments.
Studying via distance is not always straightforward, but Uppsala did a lot to help me engage with my peers, discuss topics, and give and receive feedback. The campus week was a highlight which involved a great deal of interaction and development. As a result, I have made close friends from all over the world.
In particular, I enjoyed studying about methodological pluralism and the study of peace and justice movements. I now have a greater overview of social engagement, the process, the history, the objectives, and the challenges of changing the world.
I am excited to continue my career in academia with the knowledge that the program has bestowed upon me, and plan to begin a PhD soon to further develop my understanding of Religion in Peace and Conflict."
"The mere idea of a distance programme fit my personal mode of studying very well: I am an early riser and thoroughly enjoyed spending the early hours of the day at my desk without having to disrupt my early morning motivation and flow with stressful bike rides to the lecture hall or unproductive group meetings.
Still, if somewhat paradoxically, my best memory from the programme is the campus week. It was a wonderful, enriching experience to my fellow students from around the world, to visit the beautiful city and the university, and, of course, to actually meet the teachers. It would after all have been weird to graduate from a university (and one as prestigious as Uppsala at that) without ever having been there for more than a day. It is a pity that the team could not fulfil their original promise of organising more than one such meeting.
My preference for individual work aside, I was surprised and grateful for the functionality of the online platform and its use by the teachers, which encouraged cooperation and exchange between the students. The online experience would have been enriched if there had also been online or video lectures like in the distance courses I have taken at other universities, especially considering the quality lecturers demonstrated during campus week.
This is, however, not to say that the teaching was bad, quite the contrary! The weekly assignments that dictated most of the courses' structure were usually well-formulated and conductive towards the triple end of consolidating information and knowledge from the assigned literature, inspiring creative and analytical thought, and encouraging exchange, and collaboration among the students. Although they were at times hard to access, the teachers never left any doubt that they cared about us, about our challenges and successes; and that they always did their best to support us.
While I at times felt unsure about the substance of the assigned material and composition of the courses concerning future professional work, in retrospect I have no doubt that the curriculum was indeed well thought through and carefully designed. As for myself, I certainly feel enriched, inspired and improved by the past two years. I gained exactly the right blend of substantive knowledge, reassurance, insights, motivation and friends. I would recommend the programme to anyone who can muster at least a spark of the necessary self-discipline – with the knowledge that the necessary motivation will always be provided by the course structure and the humour and support of those responsible."
"I really liked the „Moral leadership and project evaluation course“ since we received so much practical information about how to evaluate projects and which tools to use within research. Even though it was one of the toughest courses of the program I feel that it will be extremely useful for future employment within our field. Also, I really enjoyed all of the courses in which we could create projects on our own. The „Biography, autobiography, and life story“ course was super inspiring and gave us the possibility of developing and refining our interview skills. The same is true for the „Short field study“ course, which was an excellent possibility of doing research yourself and including it in your Master’s Thesis. Overall, it was great that we were given a lot of creative freedom and possibilities of experimenting with different forms of presenting our own work, such as creating our own website or even our own book. Moreover, I enjoyed that all courses strengthened our academic writing skills and I feel that this was a good preparation for, in the end, writing our theses. All in all, it feels that I have learned a lot during the last two years and I surely liked all of the course literature. Finally, I especially enjoyed that the program had so many different angles and included lots of information about important topics such as ethics, moral leadership, and especially social commitment."
"I would like to begin by saying a huge thank you for giving me the chance to attend this program, it does not go a day without me feeling grateful, and it has been a truly wonderful experience. Overall, I truly enjoyed the program. It was a very unique, interesting, and diverse program, that encouraged me as a student to not only be analytical, but creative and innovative as well. It was a varied program that made me as a student eager to learn more about the whole aspect of social commitment. I thought it was truly interesting with the courses involving moral leadership, it fascinated me greatly and I became inspired to create change for the better in this world. The aspect of moral leadership I considered to be truly valuable and definitely one of the many highlights with this program. Also, I enjoyed the innovative courses where we were allowed to create different projects, such as the project course in year one which was a great way of being innovative as well as informative, where we got the opportunity to be creative and do something different, which was fun and a bit of fresh air within the world of academia - also it was enjoyable to be able to cooperate with one of my coursemates as well. Furthermore, the program offered many courses (such as biography, autobiography, and life story) that mixed the world of academia with "the real world" where me as a student had to reach out and connect with different people which was a nice combination of both worlds, which I thought was appropriate with the programs' focus on social commitment. Also, the whole distance format I thought was remarkable. I loved the fact that it was a modern program where, as long as you had a computer, everything was possible and you could perform every task by logging in to the portal and read the instructions. To conclude I feel that I have gained a lot of valuable knowledge about topics that need to be highlighted in the world we live in today, topics that can help promote more kindness in the world. "
"I applied to this program at a time in my life when I was looking for answers to many of life's hardest questions, such as what it means to be human, what my ultimate concern in life should be, and what I should make the indelible task of my striving. These questions were answered by this program in a big way. Throughout the course of this program, the uncertainty I once had about life slowly faded and certainty about what it means to be human was drawn into focus with help from some the best teachers I've ever had. I learned from them that to be human is to suffer for others; that my ultimate concern is to make an optimal positive difference with my time, energy, and talents, and that my task in life should be helping to improve upon unsatisfactory realities. But more than all of this, they showed me how to make realizing positive social change a reality. To study religion is to find out how to be human; this program is a class in finding one's self-- what one is truly meant for. "