Ohio University

skip to main content
Ohio University  >  Global Affairs and International Studies  >  Office of Global Opportunities  >  Programs  >  Balkans: Environmental Peacebuilding & Sustainability

Balkans: Environmental Peacebuilding & Sustainability: Peace Parks in the Balkans


This 7 credit field course (in Washington DC and the Balkans) affiliated with the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs will provide students with a unique, experiential learning opportunity in one of the last bio-diversity hotspots in Europe, a place where the legacy of the conflict of the 1990s is being overcome with entrepreneurship, ecotourism and environmental peacebuilding. Starting with three days in Washington DC, students will gain a foundational understanding of how environmental security thinking led to a focus on environmental peacebuilding.

Students will meet with some of our nation’s foremost scholars and policy analysts on environmental peacebuilding, sustainability and transboundary protected areas management including officials at the National Park Service Office of International Affairs, US Agency for International Development, Conservation International , the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and others.  We will visit one of the Balkans Embassies and hear a presentation from the Ambassador about regional environmental cooperation and the value of international educational exchange.  

Program Focus

  • Community driven sustainable development
  • Cross border environmental conservation
  • Eco-tourism
  • Natural resource management


  • Enjoy day hikes on parts of the award-winning "Peaks of the Balkans Trail," which showcases the border region's stunning natural beauty.
  • Enjoy the phenomenal hospitality of the local people in all three countries through home stays and learn from the people who work in environmental peacebuilding every day.
  • Climb cross border trails that were previously used by Roman soldiers and Kosovar refugees.
  • Experience the unique "higher mountain culture" and its traditional organic farming and cuisine, music and dance, traditional clothing, centuries old architecture and rugged way of life.

Students will see firsthand how the environment is harnessed as a tool to stimulate cross border cooperation between communities and countries; and how entrepreneurship and ecotourism are providing an alternative model for sustainable development and real world livelihood creation. The field-based experiences are accompanied by faculty and guest lectures, the international policy environment in Washington, D.C. and with park officials, community leaders, and experts in Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro. 

The study abroad program will be led by Geoff Dabelko. He joins  Todd Walters, founder and executive director of International Peace Park Expeditions, who has led student experiential learning study abroad programs in the Balkans and Central America with a focus on transboundary conservation and peacebuilding. 

Links to an article on the front page of the Travel section of the  New York Times  highlights part of the route we will follow,  The Peaks of the Balkans Trail, which won the World Tourism and Travel Council’s Award for Top Sustainable Destination in 2013.   National Geographic  posted photos and a write-up of our 2011 Expedition on their website.

Program Dates

Summer 2019 : May 19 – June 10, 2019

This program will not run in Summer 2020. Tentatively running next in 2021.

Application Deadline  February 15, 2019

Balkans Slideshow:


Eligibility and selection process

This program is open to all OHIO undergraduate and graduate students from all majors in good judicial standing. The minimum GPA is 2.5 for undergraduates and 3.0 for graduate students.

This multi-dimensional study abroad program is designed for advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in environmental studies, sustainability, geography, community development, natural resource management, ecotourism, European history, and peace and conflict studies.

Students who will be on probation at any point during the program for a conduct offense that took place less than a calendar year from the program start date may not study abroad.  Click here to read the entire conduct policy.

This program accepts applications from non-Ohio University students.

Applicants must be matriculated OHIO students. Non-OHIO applicants must have successfully completed high school or its equivalent.


Students on this program will be housed in various accommodations throughout the program duration such as homestays (breakfast & dinner included), hotels (breakfast included), and cabins. 

Courses and credits

Students will enroll in 7 credit hours during this program. 

Undergraduate students:

  • ES 4900 Special Topics: Environment, Peacebuilding & Security (3 credits) 
  • ES 4910 Special Topics: Environmental Studies Leadership Experience (3 credits) 
  • ES 4930 Independent Study in Environmental Studies (1 credit) 

Graduate Students:

  • ES 5900 Special Topics: Environment, Peacebuilding & Security (3 credits)
  • ES 6910 Environmental Studies Internship (3 credits) 
  • ES 6930 Independent Study in Environmental Studies (1 credit) 


Undergraduate Student Budget Worksheet 2019

Graduate Student Budget Worksheet 2019

Find out about scholarships, using your financial aid and more for this program.

Non-resident surcharge waived for this program.

Additional Information on the Balkans

To learn more about this study abroad destination, please visit the  CIA World Factbook

Health and safety

Ohio University Office of Global Opportunities suggests you follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control for healthy travel to your destinations: 

Please familiarize yourself with the recommendations and requirements on the websites above prior to applying to a program.

Refer to the Department of State site for information related to safety and security at these destinations.

Also refer to  International SOS  for information related to safety and security at this destination. To log in to the International SOS website, please use the OHIO membership IS: 11BCAS000010.

Requesting accessibility accommodations

If you plan to participate in an Ohio University-sponsored study abroad program and wish to request accommodation, you should contact the  Office of Student Accessibility Services  to schedule an appointment to complete an  Global Opportunities Disability Accommodation Request Form. We recommend you do this as early as possible to allow sufficient time to determine what accommodations may be made for this program.

Entry and exit requirements

U.S. citizens are required to have a valid U.S. passport when traveling outside of the United States.  

If you plan to study or travel abroad in the next year, apply for your passport now.

Some countries also require a visa to legally enter and reside in the country.   Please read the entry and exit requirements for Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania.

US citizens do not need a visa to enter these countries for the length of this  program. However, you may need to show sufficient funds to support yourself while in-country.  Note that entry/exit requirements may vary if you plan to stay in the country longer than the program dates or travel to other countries during or after the program.  Please familiarize yourself with these recommendations and requirements prior to applying to a program.

Information  on visa can be found on the OGO's website.

Information for NON-US citizens can be found  here.

For more information on this program contact:

Geoff Dabelko 
Program Director 



Danny Twilley 


Emily Englehart  
Global Programs Coordinator | Office of Global Opportunities  
Email:  eengleha@ohio.edu





Section Menu