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The program explores two main topics: development theories and practices as well as the changing cultures, politics, and economy in Cameroon. It will enable you to refresh and build up your knowledge of development through carefully selected case studies of Cameroonian development organizations. Additionally, you will 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. As you learn about these issues, you will study alongside Cameroonian university students.
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.
Elias Estabrook, Yale University
Each semester a few Cameroonian graduate students take part in the SIT Cameroon program, which adds another layer to the cross-cultural nature of the program. Cameroonian students complete all of the program’s components — courses, excursions, and ISP research — alongside SIT students. Both groups benefit deeply from the program’s network of lecturers, resources, and program partners as well as the cross-cultural learning that studying together provides.
A combination of lectures, excursions, and field activities results in a powerful, immersive, and intellectually stimulating learning environment for both SIT and Cameroonian students. You will work, play, travel, and socialize together, and the benefits of this process for both groups are unique and invaluable. Interacting with students of diverse backgrounds allows you to further discuss and explore avenues of the program that would not be possible in a classroom with only American students. In mutual discussions and analyses of key issues facing Cameroon, you will examine the challenges and prospects of the country. Focal topics include colonization and its hangover, neocolonization and globalization, cultural values, youth and gender participation in national affairs, and the overriding transition from a traditional to a “modern” society.
The program is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s political capital and second largest city. The program typically spends between five to six weeks in this vibrant and cosmopolitan city usually known as “la ville aux sept collines.”
The program offers two thematic seminars: Development Studies and Modernization and Social Change.
The thematic seminar on development includes three modules:
The seminar on modernization and social change highlights the examination of three main ethnic groups: Bamiléké, Anglophones, and Bagyeli, commonly referred to as “pygmies.” The seminar brings out the values and relevance of indigenous development structures, changing cultures, nation-state issues, and cultural aesthetic features.
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. You will visit development organizations, meet with political leaders, stay in rural and urban centers, meet with traditional leaders, visit women’s centers, and travel to the Anglophone region of Cameroon.
You will engage and learn from lectures, selected assigned readings, field visits, class discussions, and written assignments. The variety of learning sources provides you with different perspectives on the same issue thus making learning more hands-on. You will take your discussions beyond the classroom to group visits where you can see and meet with experts in the field.
You will interact with experienced and dynamic development workers and discuss fundamental aid issues such as project sustainability, beneficiary involvement and participation in project design and implementation, funding sources, and autonomy. You will further gain field insights and perspectives from a variety of development actors that include nongovernmental, state, private, international, and local professionals. In addition to engaging with development professionals, you will also meet with high profile political leaders and learn their visions for social change, their challenges, and their contribution to Cameroon development. This provides you with a better understanding and appraisal of the history of democracy in Cameroon and the complex socio-political dynamics of the country.
Living in the rural community of Batoufam and at the palace of the chief of Batoufam will provide you with firsthand experience of the life and customs of traditional leadership in Cameroon. The chief of Batoufam — respected for his level of education and strong attachment to his culture and people — will discuss a chief’s responsibilities, challenges, and important rites and ceremonies. The chief of Batoufam will also share his ideas on Batoufam’s position with regard to westernization, his relationship with the state and with his population, and the future of traditional institutions. This excursion will give you the ability to appreciate the diversity and cultural richness of Cameroon and an in-depth understanding of indigenous development structures and the realities of living in a rural community in Cameroon.
You will receive intensive language instruction in French focused on beginning or improving your speaking, reading, and writing abilities while allowing you to gain insights — through language — into everyday life in Cameroon. All levels of French are accommodated on the program. Beginning students are placed in intensive introductory classes. Those at more advanced levels focus on French for development studies, using local Cameroonian literature to explore the realities of postcolonial life. All students gain additional language practice in homestays and on field visits, and more advanced students are encouraged to complete their Independent Study Projects, including the accompanying papers, entirely in French.
During excursions, you will also receive basic oral instruction in either Pidgin English or Fulfulde to facilitate local communication.
While in Yaoundé, you will be able to learn Central African modern and traditional dances. The dance professor, Yaya Fokumlah, is a professional dancer and teaches at the University of Yaoundé 1.
You will 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 and will be encouraged to choose a development topic not covered by the program. You will research the topic using research methods taught in the Research Methods and Ethics course. The group project will help you feel more confident and well equipped for the ISP. The project will also give you the opportunity to work as a team and manage group dynamics.
You will 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 include:
This program introduces students to a broad variety of issues related to Cameroon’s culture and development via an interdisciplinary format that includes lectures, seminars, meetings with experts and practitioners, hands-on learning, research projects, excursions, and homestay experiences. The 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 (ISP).
Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on 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 1000–1500 / 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 2000–2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
French for Development Studies – syllabus
(FREN 3000–3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
French for Development Studies – syllabus
(FREN 4000–4500 / 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.
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.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
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.
The program typically includes time in the following areas of Cameroon.
Located in the heart of the Western Region of Cameroon, Batoufam is a typical Bamiléké village, with a rich and vibrant culture. You will stay in the homes of rural families, where you immerse yourself in the daily activities of the local people, learn their traditions and arts, and discover their adaptation and/or resistance to westernization.
This two-week excursion has two main objectives: first, to consider the differences between rural and urban Cameroon, and second, to witness the transformation that is occurring within this dynamic group that strives to preserve their culture, identity, and financial sustainability in the face of globalization. You will enjoy the privilege of meeting with a traditional leader known for his dynamism and charisma. The Batoufam palace is one of the most beautiful of the Bamiléké region and is part of a project named “la route des chefferies.” The aim of this project is to boost the financial support of chefferies and highlight the key role that local institutions play in village life and in national politics. Focal topics 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.
Also known as Abakwa Town, Bamenda is the capital city of the Northwest Region, one of the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon. It is the hotbed of the English-speaking opposition movement against French rule and dominance in Cameroon and home to one of the well-known and prominent opposition leaders of the country. It has a population of about 500,000 inhabitants and is known for its cool climate and beautiful and hilly landscape.
The program typically spends three days in Bamenda focused on minority issues in Cameroon. 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 hear lectures, enjoy site visits, and explore the city.
Beyond an understanding of the Anglophone problem in Cameroon and the typical Anglo-Saxon mentality, education, and way of life, the excursion to Bamenda will provide you with firsthand knowledge of the impact of British heritage in Cameroon. You will get to see the relationship between Anglophones (people originating from the two English-speaking regions of the country) and Francophones.
Kribi lies along the Gulf of Guinea, at the edge of a tropical rainforest with a beautiful beach. The outskirts of Kribi are home to the Bagyeli (pygmies). Kribi is also the location of the Chad-Cameroonian pipeline project and of one the greatest development projects of the government of Cameroon: the deep sea port. The city is attractive and cosmopolitan, with fascinating topics to explore.
In Kribi, you will have the opportunity to examine the controversial issues facing a minority group with a rich traditional society, locked in an irreversible process of transition imposed by globalization and modernity. The dilemma of the Bagyeli is well illustrated by their daily struggle to preserve what remains of their rich traditions and customs. The program closely works with two local organizations that are at the forefront of the fight to support and protect the Bagyeli and help them to undergo a smoother and more appropriate transition
In addition, you will visit development project sites, where you will meet with project promoters to discuss their activities, challenges, and successes. You will meet with the beneficiaries of the implemented projects in order to better understand how development works in the field. During this period, you will also have a chance to enjoy Kribi’s beautiful sandy beaches.
Christiane Magnido 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. 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 has been running the SIT program in Cameroon since 2006 and has enjoyed every step of the experience. Her position entails many responsibilities; the most significant include designing an academic program for the semester, recruiting relevant and experienced professors for lectures, working with partner institutions, creating a conducive scholastic environment, providing guidance and support to students, integrating field-based experience and classroom activities, and collaborating with staff to produce the most effective setting for each student’s educational journey.
In addition to her position as academic director with SIT Study Abroad, 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 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.
Serge joined SIT Study Abroad Cameroon in January 2013 as a program assistant. He holds a BA in sociology, with a concentration in population and development, from 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 one of the oldest student organizations in Cameroon’s university, the Cercle Philo-Psycho-Socio-Anthropo. These experiences have greatly contributed to his management skills. In his role as program assistant, Serge is in charge of program logistics, excursion planning, and other administrative tasks.
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 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 to her work with SIT, 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./h4>
The Cameroon: Social Pluralism and Development 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.
From August 2006 through August 2007, Professor Taguem Fah was a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Illinois Central College, East Peoria, where he later became a visiting faculty. He was also a Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow (November 2008–January 2011). He was initially a specialist in the field of African history but has since developed a wide interest in political developments in Africa in general, and West-Central Africa in particular. He teaches African history and African politics at the University of Ngaoundéré in Cameroon. He has been a visiting professor at several universities in Europe (EHESS-Paris and the universities of Tromso, Bergen, and Oslo in Norway); in the United States (Northwestern University, Illinois Central College, East Peoria); in Canada (Université Laval-Quebec); and in the West Indies (UAG-Martinique). He has authored books, journal articles, and book chapters on topics as varied as popular culture and politics, corruption, local elitism and politics in Africa, Islam and politics, chieftaincies, art, and politics. His most recent works include the following journal articles: “The War on Terror, the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline, and the New Identity of the Lake Chad Basin” (Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1, January 2007); “Dealing with Africom: A Political Economy of Anger and Protest” (Journal of Pan African Studies, Vol. 3, No. 6, March 2010); and “Thematique de recherche autour de quelques acteurs de l’histoire contemporaine du Nord-Cameroun” with Bienvenu-Denis Nizesete as co-author (African Humanities, Vol. 1, January 2010). He has also recently published a book chapter, “Negotiating Elitism and Facing Change: Dynamic Idioms of Power and Leadership” in Ngaoundéré-Cameroon (Egodi Uchendu, Ed.). An expert on UNESCO, Professor Taguem Fah 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 (COREDEC), a social sciences and community development institute in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon. He is currently the director of African Humanities, a social sciences journal.
Dr. Dze-Ngwa is a lecturer and researcher in political history and international relations at the University of Yaoundé I and at the Higher Teacher Training College (ENS) in Bambili, Cameroon. He is also a lecturer on history and geopolitics in the Department of Peace and Development Studies at the Protestant University of Central Africa (UPAC), Cameroon. Additionally, he is the executive director of the Africa Network against Illiteracy, Conflicts, and Human Rights Abuse (ANICHRA) 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. His research interests are in the areas of political history, international relations, peace and conflict studies, democracy, citizenship education, minority issues, good governance, human rights, social science research, quality education, and development studies.
Dr. Fotsing 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. He is very interested in cultural studies.
You will spend a total of five weeks in a homestay in Yaoundé, two weeks with a host family in the West Region of Cameroon (Dschang), and two weeks with a family in Kribi, in the South Region. During the Independent Study Project period, 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. Students often make long-lasting connections with their host families. The homestay experience is closely tied to the program's thematic seminar and allows you to deepen your understanding of the themes covered through the program’s coursework.
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. As the focus of our study while in Yaoundé is to further understand the complexity of development and development aid as it relates to the country, living with these families allows you to exchange ideas, interrogate, and debrief your experiences with these host families who have had experiences that allow them to compare and contrast life inside and outside of Cameroon.
In Dschang, you will be placed with Bamiléké families and experience the realities of Bamiléké culture and traditions firsthand. The focus of study in Dschang is to examine an ethnic group that still maintains strong ties to its culture and is striving to retain some of its important features in the face of globalization. Living with Bamiléké families allows you to observe and participate in their daily activities and to ask questions to further understand lectures and field visits.
In Kribi, you will live in homestays. Kribi is famously known for its fishing and tourist industries. The tourist industry has influenced the attitudes, jobs, education level, and social skills of the population. The 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.
Outside Kribi, an autochthonous and indigenous population known as the Baka-Bagyeli live in the forest. Their way of life has been dramatically affected by foreign companies’ investment in the area and by the country’s modernization/westernization. While in Kribi, you will examine the interaction between the Baka-Bagyeli indigenous population and the people of Kribi who are Bantou. You will also learn about the impact that foreign companies have on the Baka-Bagyelis’ lives as well as the dynamics between traditions and modernity.
Also in Kribi, you will have the opportunity to meet with two development NGOs with which the program has established 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, while also helping with development projects.
Other accommodations during the program could include hostels, private homes, and small hotels.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.
The dates listed above are tentative. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.
Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.
Application Deadline: Nov 1, 2015
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
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.
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.