Make The Connection

Theory-to-Practice Grant, ‘Protestant-Catholic Intra-Religious Dialogue in Northern Ireland’

June 30, 2014 – by Katie Nunner '15

Meghan Byram ’16

Learn how OWU’s Course Connections, Travel-Learning Courses, Theory-to-Practice Grants, and other programs prepare students for global citizenship and leadership and help them…Make the Connection.

Aided by a University-funded Theory-to-Practice Grant, Ohio Wesleyan students and staff visit Northern Ireland to study the history of Catholic-Protestant conflicts, the peace and reconciliation movement, and the resulting intra-religious partnerships. (Photo courtesy of OWU’s Office of University Chaplain)

Liam Dennigan ’15

Name: Liam Dennigan ’15
Major: Politics and Government
Minor: Management Economics
Hometown: Norwell, Massachusetts
Experience: “Protestant-Catholic Intra-Religious Dialogue in Northern Ireland,” May 2014

Lessons Learned: “I learned the conflicts are not as black-and-white as they may appear. Going into the study, I saw it mainly as a conflict based on religion but through my experiences I learned that it was much more complex … with many economic and political implications.

“What had started as a religious conflict had permeated into every part of society including segregated Protestant/ Catholic neighborhoods, job sectors, political parties, and even segregated public schools.

“I think overall I learned the importance of keeping an open mind and being willing to hear both sides of a conflict. Throughout our time, we heard both Protestant and Catholic perspectives on the conflict and were able to sympathize with each of their concerns.

“You have to be willing to recognize merits in the opposition’s arguments if you wish for there to be progress, and I think this is something that can be applied broadly to professional, political, and personal relationships.”

Meghan Byram ’16

Name: Meghan Byram ’16
Major: Biology
Minors: Chemistry and Spanish
Hometown: Brunswick, Ohio
Experience: “Protestant-Catholic Intra-Religious Dialogue in Northern Ireland,” May 2014

Lessons Learned: “I learned the importance of the ‘personal narrative’ when studying conflict, such as the conflict in Northern Ireland. I learned that only a facet of the conflict was really religious; it is socio-economic, political, and historical issues all tied together.

“My experience in Ireland not only helped me better understated the conflict there, but it helped me understand the tactics of a peace process and to resolve problems. What we learned in Ireland can be brought back to OWU. We plan to create a better environment for intra-religious dialogue and work within the faith communities at Ohio Wesleyan.

“I didn’t expect the issues in Northern Ireland to be so complicated. I was surprised that while most of the segregation and violence between Protestants and Catholics were in the lower-class neighborhoods, the middle class still perpetuated the problems.”