Balkans Academic Expedition

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Environmental Peacebuilding & Sustainability: Conservation and EcoTourism in the Balkans

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.

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.


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Course Objectives

  • 01

    Environmental Peacebuilding

  • 02

    Cross border environmental conservation

  • 03


  • 04

    Community driven sustainable development & natural resource management

Course Overview

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.


  • Danny Twilley

    Danny Twilley holds the B.S. in Physical Education from Salisbury University in Maryland and the M.S. in Recreation Studies from Ohio University. Twilley teaches undergraduate courses in recreational programming, recreation for individuals with disabilities, outdoor physical education, wilderness literature and wilderness first aid. He also serves as the coordinator for the Basic Instruction Program in the Department of Recreation and Sport Pedagogy.

  • Todd Walters

    Founder and Executive Director of International Peace Park Expeditions, Inc.
    Chair of IPPE Inc Board of Directors, 2010 to Present.

    Walters has adapted Peace & Conflict Impact Assessment methodology to transboundary protected areas, and produced short documentary films in the Transcending Boundaries series which portray multiple stakeholder perspectives concerning environmental peacebuilding in transboundary protected areas. Walters is also a member of the Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature where he is developing a practitioners training curriculum on Transboundary Conservation best practices and is a Fellow at the Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security. Walters is a National Outdoor Leadership School certified adventure guide with wilderness first responder emergency medical training, has led expeditions in dozens of countries around the globe, and has published a number of chapters and articles on Environmental Peacebuilding.

Course Assignments

IUCN TBC Assessment

International Union for the Conservation of Nature - Transboundary Conservation Assessment

Blog entry

Write, edit, publish a blog post

Group Presentation

Present Potential Environmental Peacebuilding Initiative


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Past Student Projects

  • Balkans Academic Expedition

    National Park Prokletije documentary