It isn’t possible to effectively give credit to SIT Kenya and the academic directors for all of the lessons learned both in and outside the classroom, the once in a lifetime opportunities given to me almost daily.… I will be eternally grateful for this semester for the rest of my life. It was amazing.
Hallie Gremlitz, University of Vermont
Study at the program base in Kisumu. Go on several excursions to sites in western Kenya and the city of Nairobi and a comparative excursion to Rwanda.
Live and study in Kisumu.
Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city, is picturesquely located on the shores of Lake Victoria and is the primary urban settlement in western Kenya. As a major port and trading hub and the center of the Luo community in Kenya, Kisumu has played a significant role in modern Kenyan history, and its fisheries and agriculture are significant contributors to the national and regional economy.
Kisumu (and the broader area of Lake Victoria) was the epicenter for HIV/AIDS when it first emerged in the 1980s. Responding to these and other health needs, investments were made in medical research in the area. Today, Kisumu is home to a joint campus of the CDC (the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and KEMRI (Kenya Medical Research Institute). Founded as a collaborative venture in 1979, the partnership has grown to seven facilities around Kenya — the largest of which is in Kisumu. The Urbanization, Health, and Human Rights program includes collaborations with research scientists at the CDC/KEMRI campus in Kisumu, at the Centre for Research and Technology Development, and with urban and regional planning faculty from nearby Maseno University.
With the support of professors from Maseno University, you will get opportunities to participate in ongoing slum development projects in Kisumu.
Spend time in Nairobi.
Nairobi is a relatively new city that began as a watering hole (“the place of cool waters”) for local Maasai pastoralists roughly 100 years ago. Today Nairobi is Kenya’s capital, a cosmopolitan metropolis of an estimated four million people, and hosts several international and national research institutes, corporations and United Nations institutions.
Nairobi has a concentration of academic, political, economic, and cultural resources, including many relief, development, health, human rights, and political organizations. Several of Kenya’s universities are in Nairobi, and you will have access to scholars, researchers, practitioners, and experts in all relevant program fields. You may also take advantage of libraries at the universities in Nairobi, the World Bank, the United Nations Environmental Programme, and UN-Habitat.
Visit nearby Rwanda for a comparative look at healthcare.
Rwanda has made phenomenal progress in public health. With a prevalence rate of less than 2%, Rwanda’s incidence of HIV/AIDS is significantly lower than the regional average as is the prevalence of malaria. Through a compulsory health insurance scheme, Rwanda has also succeeded in implementing universal access to healthcare. The city of Kigali has excellent infrastructure and is easily navigable.
Consider some of the most pressing societal challenges of contemporary relevance.
Urbanization, health, and human rights form the crux of the most pressing societal challenges not only in Kenya but throughout Africa and much of the world. The SIT Kenya program offers opportunities to learn of and from the Kenyan experience — via lectures, excursions, discussions, homestays, and everyday life — while interrogating the causes and consequences of urban inequalities and their health implications. An excursion to Rwanda provides a comparative view of health, human rights, and urban issues at sites in Kigali and the surrounding rural areas.
Issues of human rights have been in the forefront in Kenya following the post-election turmoil of 2007–2008 and the subsequent adoption of a new constitution in 2010. Kenya’s government is committed to improving access to healthcare for its people, but, while the constitution provides for economic and social rights, the government’s goals related to healthcare remain largely elusive.
Kenya’s economic gains in the past decade have been unevenly distributed, and the country has faced a number of internal and external crises in recent years. The SIT Kenya program addresses these complex issues through in-depth engagement with scholars, practitioners, activists, artists, and Kenyans from all walks of life.
Kiswahili serves as the lingua franca throughout East Africa, from the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and parts of Mozambique. Through the program’s intensive language course, you will gain conversational ability as a building block for better communication throughout the region.
Kiswahili study allows you to connect more deeply and quickly with your homestay families and host communities, making the language component a highlight of the semester. During field assignments and the ISP or internship, you will apply your emerging skills and further develop your vocabulary.
Visit Mombasa or Maasai Mara in Kenya or Jinja in Uganda.
During the final week, the program visits Mombasa, Maasai Mara, or Jinja, depending on program logistics and group size. You will visit these tourist attractions as you engage in program evaluation, reentry discussions, and final critical reflection sessions.
Study on a program for multiple majors with opportunities to pursue individualized interests.
This program is appropriate for a number of majors including, but not limited to, pre-med, pre-nursing, anthropology, development studies, architecture, urban planning, sociology, public health, and international relations. A background in health is not required. While on the program, students focused on other fields, including creative writing, art, theater, and literature, may connect and apply their experiences in Kenya to these interests.
Program excursions offer you the flexibility to focus on your particular academic focus and intellectual interest. Your intellectual universe will expand exponentially upon arrival in Kenya, and the program’s academic director, lecturers, and ISP advisors will be on hand to assist in that process.