Examine the changing cultures, politics, and economy of Cameroon, with a focus on three major socio-cultural groups: the Bamiléké, the Bagyeli, and the Anglophones.
Choose between an internship and an Independent Study Project (ISP).
For the last four weeks of the program, you will complete either an internship or an ISP. If you choose the internship, you will spend four weeks working with a Cameroonian organization where you will develop professional skills and gain real work experience. If you choose to do an ISP, you will spend this time conducting field research and writing an academic paper that engages with your research.
Participate in a group research project focused on a development issue specific to Cameroon.
You and the other SIT students will be divided into small groups to research a development topic not covered by the program using methods taught in the Research Methods and Ethics course. The group project will help you feel more confident in your researching skills and your ability to work in a team and manage group dynamics.
Explore Cameroonian cultures, dance, and art.
While in Yaoundé, you will be able to learn Central African modern and traditional dances from Yaya Fokumlah, a professional dancer who teaches at the University of Yaoundé I.
Receive intensive French language instruction and learn basic Pidgin English or Fulfulde.
Your French instruction, whether beginning or advanced, will focus on developing your speaking, reading, and writing abilities while allowing you to gain insights into everyday life in Cameroon through language practice in homestays and on field visits. If you are at an advanced level, you will focus on French for development studies, using Cameroonian literature to explore the realities of postcolonial life, and you will be encouraged to complete your Independent Study Project entirely in French. During excursions, you will also receive basic oral instruction in either Pidgin English or Fulfulde to facilitate local communication.
Learn about the negative effects indigenous communities face when their traditional way of life is replaced by a “western” lifestyle.
Gain insights into the transitioning cultures, politics, and economy of Cameroon, with a focus on three major socio-cultural groups: the Bamiléké, the Bagyeli, and the Anglophones.
Learn from development experts and high-profile Cameroonian leaders.
Interact with experienced, dynamic development workers and discuss fundamental aid issues such as project sustainability, funding sources, autonomy, and beneficiary involvement and participation in project design and implementation. You will hear further perspectives from a variety of nongovernmental, state, private, international, and local professionals. You will also meet with high-profile political leaders and learn about their challenges, contribution to Cameroon's development, and visions for social change, providing you with a better understanding of the history of democracy and the complex socio-political dynamics in Cameroon.
Study, travel, and socialize with Cameroonian students for the majority of the semester.
Cameroonian students complete all of the program’s components—courses, excursions, and ISP research—alongside SIT students. You will study, play, travel, and socialize together, and both groups will benefit from this cross-cultural interaction, which allows you to explore the program’s themes in ways that would not be possible in a classroom with students of only one nationality. With your Cameroonian peers, you will analyze key issues facing Cameroon, including colonization, neocolonization, globalization, cultural values, youth and gender participation in national affairs, and the transition from traditional to “modern” society.
Spend five to six weeks in cosmopolitan Yaoundé, Cameroon’s political capital and second largest city.
Live in a rural homestay with a polygamous Bamiléké family and discover how they are preserving their identity and culture.
Examine how modernization is changing society, politics, and the economy in Cameroon.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- Development theories and best practices
- Social and political history of Cameroon and Cameroon’s future
- Successes, challenges, and prospects for development organizations currently working in Cameroon
- Social, economic, and political change within three main ethnic groups—Bamiléké, Anglophones, and Bagyeli (commonly referred to as “pygmies”)—highlighting indigenous development structures, changing cultures, nation-state issues, and cultural aesthetic features
- Cameroonian culture, dance, and art
- Cameroonian women in development: the transition from the traditional to the “modern” woman, youth opinions on women, and women’s economic empowerment
The program’s thematic seminars are taught in English, with a few lectures in French offered in translation. Intensive French language study allows students to engage more fully with communities in Cameroon, and students are immersed in homestay environments that promote further language learning. The Research Methods and Ethics course addresses ethical and culturally appropriate research methodology in preparation for the Independent Study Project.
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
Development Studies – syllabus
(SDIS 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
An interdisciplinary course taught predominantly in English, examining foundational concepts, principles, and paradigms of development studies for the purposes of critically engaging with specific topics and issues relating to the Cameroonian context. Through formal lectures, assigned readings, group discussions, and integrated field visits, students explore the ways in which development initiatives — in local, regional, and national contexts — seek to become agents for changing structural relationships in society.
Modernization and Social Change in Cameroon – syllabus
(AFRS 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
An interdisciplinary course taught predominantly in English, exploring Cameroon’s complex social history and postcolonial national identities in one of the most ethnically and geographically diverse countries on the continent. In addition to lectures and discussions, the course integrates multiple learning methods including required readings, excursions to relevant sites, group discussions and processing sessions, participatory workshops, student presentations, and independent or self-structured learning.
Beginning French: French in Cameroonian Contexts – syllabus
(FREN 1003–1503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This intensive course is designed to prepare students with little or no previous instruction in French to confidently use the language in daily communications in Cameroon. Another major aim of the course is to facilitate access to the Cameroonian host culture, particularly in the urban homestay. The course emphasizes the development of speaking and comprehension competencies. Cultural context is built into the course and introduced through audiovisual materials and experiential activities accompanying the text.
French for Development Studies – syllabus
(FREN 2003–2503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
French for Development Studies – syllabus
(FREN 3003–3503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
French for Development Studies – syllabus
(FREN 4003–4503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This language course focuses on the acquisition of the French lexicon used in the areas of development and social change to equip students with the language tools needed to work with NGOs and local and international development associations. Students are immersed in course materials designed to build their capacity in comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing skills to support the course’s focus on engaging students with discourses, vocabularies, discussions, and readings centered on development issues in Cameroon. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in the appropriate level, with additional language practice in homestays and on field visits.
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Research Methods and Ethics course provides students with the essential tools required to conduct independent study in either the public health or social research domains in Cameroon. Material includes cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a field journal.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Yaoundé or in another approved location appropriate to the project in Cameroon. Sample ISP topics: political opinions among Cameroonian youth; Chinese and American development efforts and perceptions in Cameroon; gender roles and standards of beauty in Cameroon; traditional and modern healing: people’s preferences; usages and practices of bilingualism in Cameroonian schools; influences of Westernization on the Bikutsi style of music; oral history of the Bamiléké people; land grabbing and its local impacts; microfinance and women’s empowerment.
Internship – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
International development became firmly established as a field of study and practice with an extensive apparatus that spans international borders, driven by an agenda of closing the global wealth gap at the onset of decolonization. Compared to most countries in the region, Cameroon has, since independence, had relative political stability, which has permitted investments in agriculture, transport infrastructure, petroleum, and timber. In this sense Cameroon provides an excellent setting in which to study mainstream development at play and the transitions that occur as society gets increasingly integrated into modern lifestyles. This internship experience is intended to place students in organizations at the center of this transition, as a way to enable them to appreciate the drivers and goals of mainstream development practice and how they have been structured.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Known as “Africa in Miniature,” Cameroon is home to tremendous diversity. During the program, you will study and travel in a majority of Cameroon’s environmental zones. You can expect to experience the daily life, traditions, customs, and historic and cultural sites of several different Cameroonian communities.
Each thematic module includes an excursion or field trip to allow you to witness firsthand the issues discussed in class. The program’s French language professors will join your group on visits to facilitate the discussion.
The program typically includes time in the following areas of Cameroon.
In the heart of the West Region of Cameroon, Batoufam is a typical Bamiléké village with a rich and vibrant culture. During this 10-day excursion you will consider the differences between rural and urban Cameroon and witness the transformation occurring within this dynamic group that strives to preserve their culture, identity, and financial sustainability in the face of globalization.
You will stay in the homes of local families and enjoy the privilege of meeting with a traditional leader known for his dynamism and charisma at the Batoufam palace, one of the most beautiful of the Bamiléké region and part of a project that aims to boost the financial support of chefferies and highlight the key role local institutions play in village life and national politics. The chief of Batoufam will also share his ideas on the effects of westernization on Batoufam, his relationship with the state and with his population, and the future of traditional institutions.
Topics on this excursion include the role of the diaspora and the elites in community development, the importance of indigenous development institutions (health, cultural, financial, and political), and the contribution of traditional leaders in maintaining social cohesion, peace, and harmony.
Bamenda is the capital of the Northwest Region, one of two Anglophone regions in Cameroon. The city has about 500,000 inhabitants and is known for its cool climate and beautiful, hilly landscape. It is also the hotbed of the English-speaking opposition movement against French rule and dominance in Cameroon. Here, you will consider the impact of British colonization in Cameroon and examine the place of Anglophones in Cameroon’s social, political, and cultural evolution. You will learn about Anglophones’ education and way of life as well as their relationship with Cameroon’s Francophones.
The program typically spends 10 days in Bamenda. During this time, you will hear lectures, enjoy site visits, and explore the city.
Kribi’s fishing industry has been affected by the Cameroon-Chad oil pipeline, which is believed to have decreased the amount of fish in the sea and resulted in frequent oil spills that end up on the beaches. Kribi is also the location of the construction of a new deep-sea port, one of Cameroon’s most significant government development projects.
Here, you will visit development project sites, where you will meet with project promoters to discuss their activities, challenges, and successes. You will also meet with the beneficiaries of the projects in order to better understand how development works in the field.
Among your site visits will be two development NGOs with which the program has long-term partnerships: WOPA, which provides small loans and job training to women and young girls in order to boost their economic status and financial independence, and FAGAPE, the oldest NGO working to support the indigenous population in accessing state resources such as education and civil documents.
You will also examine the challenges faced by the Baka-Bagyeli (pygmy) minority group as they struggle to preserve what remains of their rich traditions and customs through an irreversible process of transition imposed by globalization and modernity.
Program in a minute-ish
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Christiane Magnido, Academic Director
Christiane is a native of Cameroon and grew up in Douala, the country’s economic capital. She holds a master’s degree in management and business from the University of Dschang and a master’s degree in development and peace from the Protestant University of Central Africa. Christiane has been running the SIT program in Cameroon since 2006. In this role, she designs the semester’s academic program, recruits experts for guest lectures, works with partner institutions, provides guidance and support to students, integrates field-based experience and classroom activities, and collaborates with staff to produce the most effective setting for each student’s educational journey. Prior to joining SIT, she was involved in many internship programs in microfinance institutions and worked for the US Peace Corps as cross-cultural, language, and homestay coordinator and for the Small Enterprise Development Project as co-technical trainer. Christiane is co-founder of the Center for Communal Building Skills, a nonprofit association working to promote education and knowledge for Cameroonian high school and university students. Her areas of interest include commerce, international development, and the impact of culture on interpersonal relationships. She has acquired extensive knowledge and skills related to development through examination and comparison of development patterns in “developed” and “underdeveloped” countries.
Nathalie Miste, Student Service Coordinator
Nathalie is responsible for the selection of homestay families, family placement, and orientation of students. She also assists students in their cultural integration and oversees their medical care. Nathalie is a student at the University of Yaoundé I, where she is pursuing a bilingual degree in English and French.
Atangana Mbanga Serge, Program Assistant
Serge joined SIT in 2013. He holds a BA in sociology, with a concentration in population and development, from the University of Yaoundé I and continued his education there with a focus on gender studies, with a particular interest in women’s and minorities’ issues. Serge is also enrolled at Douala University and is writing a master’s dissertation on economic sociology. He has been a student leader in various student associations, including an environmental association and the Cercle Philo-Psycho-Socio-Anthropo, one of the oldest student organizations in Cameroon’s university. In his role as program assistant, Serge is in charge of program logistics, excursion planning, and other administrative tasks.
Pouokam Joseph, Homestay Coordinator in Dschang
Joseph works part-time for SIT Cameroon, overseeing the homestay component in Dschang. He has been working with the SIT Cameroon team for more than twelve years. Additionally, Joseph is an administrative assistant at the University of Dschang.
Dorothy Ntah, City Coordinator in Bamenda
Dorothy works part-time for SIT Cameroon as coordinator of the program’s Bamenda excursion. Dorothy has been associated with the SIT program since 1992. In addition, she is director of a local foundation that works on developing the capacities of youth and providing financial assistance to young entrepreneurs and children whose parents died of AIDS.
The language staff consists of four language trainers in Yaoundé and four in Dschang. The program’s language teachers have extensive experience with Peace Corps training and hold assistant professorships at the University of Dschang and the University of Yaoundé.
Lecturers for this program typically include:
Gilbert L. Taguem Fah
Gilbert holds a PhD in political history from Cameroon’s University of Ngaoundéré, where he teaches African history and politics. He has been a visiting professor at EHESS Paris; the universities of Tromso, Bergen, and Oslo; Northwestern University; Illinois Central College, where he was also a Fulbright scholar-in-residence; Université Laval-Quebec; and UAG Martinique. He was also at Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow. He has authored books, journal articles, and book chapters on popular culture, politics, corruption, local elitism in Africa, Islam, chieftaincies, and art. Recent works include “The War on Terror, the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline, and the New Identity of the Lake Chad Basin” in Journal of Contemporary African Studies; “Dealing with Africom: A Political Economy of Anger and Protest” in Journal of Pan African Studies; and “Negotiating Elitism and Facing Change: Dynamic Idioms of Power and Leadership,” in Ngaoundéré-Cameroon. An expert on UNESCO, Gilbert is a consultant at many international organizations and is affiliated with many institutions of higher learning. He is also the founder and executive director of the Community Research and Development Center in Ngaoundéré and the director of African Humanities, a social sciences journal.
Willibroad Dze-Ngwa, PhD
Willibroad is a lecturer and researcher in political history and international relations at the University of Yaoundé I and at the Higher Teacher Training College in Bambili, Cameroon. He also lectures on history and geopolitics in the Protestant University of Central Africa’s Department of Peace and Development Studies. He is executive director of the Africa Network against Illiteracy, Conflicts, and Human Rights Abuse and an advocate of peace and tolerance education. He was laureate of the 2008 Educational Network for West and Central Africa Small Grant Award and has traveled extensively to present papers at national and international conferences. He has several publications to his credit.
Robert Fotsing, PhD
Robert is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Letters and Social Sciences at the University of Dschang in Cameroon. He teaches French and comparative literature in the Department of Foreign and Applied English. His areas of research include intertextual, intermediate, and intercultural aspects in the expression of French literature. The author of about twenty articles, he is also editor of the collection L’imaginaire musical dans les littératures africaines published in the Harmattan in 2009. He is currently working on a book entitled Ecritures camerounaises et intermédialité.
I have had an amazing experience in Cameroon...
I have had an amazing experience in Cameroon thus far. I am thoroughly impressed by the program’s academic rigor and by the professionalism and thoroughness displayed by the faculty. I really like the initiative this program aims to inspire in its students. The combination of homestay, community, and classroom experience is helping me learn in a way that could not have happened on my campus.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will spend five weeks in a homestay in Yaoundé, 10 days with a host family in Batoufam, and one week with a family in Kribi. During the final four weeks of the program, as you complete your internship or Independent Study Project, you will also stay with local families. These comparative homestay experiences will give you a better understanding of the differences between urban and rural areas and facilitate immersion in Cameroonian host communities. Homestays also allow you to deepen your understanding of the themes covered through the program’s coursework.
Other accommodations during the program could include hostels, private homes, and small hotels.
Most of the homestays in Yaoundé are with middle- to upper-class Cameroonians who have connections to, and an understanding of, life in the western world, having either traveled there themselves or having children and close relatives who live there. These connections have affected their way of thinking as well as their economic status in comparison to the average Cameroonian.
Living with one of these families allows you to exchange ideas and debrief your experiences with individuals who have had experiences that allow them to compare and contrast life inside and outside Cameroon. These interactions will help you further understand the complexity of development and development aid as it relates to the country.
In this rural community, you will be placed with a Bamiléké family and experience Bamiléké culture, traditions, and arts firsthand. You will immerse yourself in your family’s daily activities, and you will be able to ask your family questions to further illuminate lectures and field visits. These experiences will help you understand an ethnic group that maintains strong ties to its culture and is striving to retain some of its important features in the face of globalization.
This homestay will also give you a glimpse of the customs associated with traditional leadership in Cameroon. The chief—respected for his level of education and strong attachment to his culture and people—will discuss a chief’s responsibilities and challenges and describe important rites and ceremonies. During your two weeks in here, you will expand your appreciation of Cameroon’s diversity and cultural richness and gain an in-depth understanding of indigenous development structures and the realities of rural life in Cameroon.
Bamenda is the capital of the Northwest province, with English as the predominant language. It is a relatively small city with a rich and animated market and main avenue. Here you will examine issues of minorities and how the economic crisis has impacted gender roles. You will also witness the social, political, and cultural transformations that derived from British colonization and observe the startling difference between French- and English-speaking Cameroon.
An attractive and cosmopolitan city, Kribi lies along the Gulf of Guinea, at the edge of a tropical rainforest with a beautiful beach. Kribi’s tourist industry has influenced the attitudes, jobs, education level, and social skills of the population.
In the forests on the outskirts of Kribi live the indigenous population known as the Baka-Bagyeli (also called pygmies), a minority group whose way of life has been dramatically affected by Cameroon’s modernization and by foreign companies’ investment in the area. You will examine the interaction between the Bagyeli and the people of Kribi, who are Bantou, investigating the dynamics between traditions and modernity. You will also connect with two local organizations that are at the forefront of the fight to support and protect the Bagyeli and to help them undergo a smoother and more appropriate transition.
During this period, you will have a chance to enjoy Kribi’s beautiful sandy beaches.
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You have the option to spend four weeks engaged in an Independent Study Project (ISP), with the opportunity to pursue original research on a topic of particular interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Yaoundé or in another approved location in Cameroon appropriate to the project.
Sample ISP topics:
- Representation and challenge of women’s roles through traditional dance
- Impact of gendered microfinance on domestic violence
- Efforts and obstacles toward political change in contemporary Cameroon
- Cultivating rice in import-dependent Cameroon
- Political opinion among Cameroonian youth
- Chinese and American development efforts and perceptions in Cameroon
- Gender roles and standards of beauty in Cameroon
- Traditional and modern healing: people’s preferences
- The uses and practices of bilingualism in Cameroonian schools
- The influences of westernization on the Bikutsi style of music
- Oral history of the Bamiléké people
- Land grabbing and its local impacts
- Microfinance and women’s empowerment
You can choose to complete an internship during the last four weeks of this program. For this internship, you will be placed with a local Cameroonian organization where you will gain real work experience related to the program’s theme and develop professional skills you can use in your career.
SIT internships are hands on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, you will submit a paper in which you describe, assess, and analyze learning. The paper will also outline the tasks you completed through the internship, professional relationships you developed, and challenges you encountered and how you overcame them.
Interning in Cameroon
Compared to most countries in the region, Cameroon has had relative political stability since independence, which has permitted investments in agriculture, transport infrastructure, petroleum, and timber. In this sense, Cameroon provides an excellent setting in which to study mainstream development in action and the transitions that occur within a developing society. This internship will place you in an organization at the center of this transition to enable you to appreciate the driving forces and goals of mainstream development practice and how they have been structured.
SIT has partnered with a number of organizations to provide internship placements; alternately, you may complete an internship of your own choosing with approval from the academic director.
- Providing financial support to women entrepreneurs at nationwide savings and credit cooperative MUFFA Cameroon
- Assisting efforts to end hunger, poverty, and socioeconomic injustice; protect the environment; and support indigenous rights at RELUFA, a nonpartisan national network of secular nonprofit organizations and mainstream churches from all regions of Cameroon
- Working with Women’s Promotion and Assistance Association to eradicate illiteracy, prostitution, child abuse, poverty, and human trafficking
- Advocating for farmers and other Cameroonians at Citizens Association for the Defense of Collective Interests, a well-known and respected organization that works to change unfair laws and corruption across all of Cameroon
- Assisting in projects such as agricultural investment, women’s entrepreneurial classes, and a girls’ soccer program at Breaking Ground, an organization founded by a former SIT student and her classmates on the principle that a community project can only effectively address the needs of a population if it is conceived, planned, and implemented by the community for whom it is intended
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Development theories and approaches
- Art, tradition, and cultural expression
- Research Methods and Ethics training in preparation for the Independent Study Project or internship
- Intensive language instruction in French
- All educational excursions to locations such as Batoufam, Bamenda, and Kribi, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project or internship (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $2,215
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Yaoundé), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project or internship, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays (five weeks in Yaoundé, 10 days in Batoufam, and one week in Kribi)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $244
Books & Supplies: $200
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.