Uganda: Development Studies


Although there are no prerequisites, a background in development studies or a related field is strongly recommended.

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This program is designed to expose students to as many aspects of development in Uganda as possible. The program is deliberately structured to move from the general to the specific and from the theoretical to the practical. Thus, students first spend time as part of a group focusing on more general historical and contemporary development issues before going out into the field to investigate those theories and principles.

Studying in Uganda would be incomplete without looking at political and security issues, as well as related environmental issues, in the Great Lakes region. Students visit national parks in Uganda to focus on issues of conflict, eco-tourism, and conservation. In addition, the program takes students to neighboring Rwanda, the location of unprecedented genocide in 1994 and now a vibrant locus of economic development.

The following syllabi are from a recent semester 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 Seminar - syllabus (PDF)
(AFRS 3000 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)
This integrative, interdisciplinary course engages students in concepts and current debates in development studies, with emphasis on their relevance to development approaches in Uganda and, more broadly, East Africa. With development in Uganda as its focus, the course articulates local history and geography, contemporary political developments, and development priorities and approaches.

Lectures are held at Makerere University, the SIT Resource Centre, and related sites within and outside Kampala. They are conducted by professors from Makerere University and experts from private nongovernmental organizations and cultural institutions. Assignments integrate readings, lectures, processing sessions, field trips, and/or in-class discussions.

Educational excursions form a significant part of learning in the course. Sites visited may include Millennium villages, the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (an organization working to stop female genital mutilation), and Uganda’s parliament — a site of animated debates at the intersection of politics and development.

Recent oil discoveries have come with their own challenges and add new dimensions to development discussions in Uganda. The uses and abuses of oil as a development strategy will be an additional focus of the program.

Intensive Language Study: Luganda - syllabus (PDF)
(LUGA 1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The primary role of Luganda language training is to provide students with the principal tools needed to gain insight into Uganda's many cultures and Luganda-speaking communities. Given its location in Kampala, where Luganda dominates, the program focuses on Luganda as the primary local lingua franca to best facilitate interactions and cross-cultural communication. The course is organized by a language coordinator and taught by a staff of native speakers experienced in teaching Luganda as a foreign language, with an emphasis on cross-cultural communication.

Language learning consists of 45 hours of formal instruction. Luganda study is reinforced through the homestay experience and various participatory and interactive assignments. Language instruction may also include simulations and field trips to supplement classroom learning.

Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus (PDF)
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Research Methods and Ethics course is designed to prepare students to undertake independent field-based research or a practicum experience within a development organization setting in Uganda. The course provides the theoretical and practical frameworks to facilitate successful adjustment to life in Uganda and to enhance student capacity to accomplish challenging tasks in new and unfamiliar settings, while conducting field research or engaging in a practicum that is ethically, methodologically, and analytically sound.

The course prepares students for either a research- or practicum-based ISP experience using readings and activities designed to build skills in qualitative research methods, including rapid rural appraisal and participatory methods, as well as project selection and refinement. Finally, students consider the norms and expectations of ethical field engagement and reciprocity, while reflecting critically on their role as “outsiders” in the development process.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 6 credits / 180 class hours)
Conducted in Uganda in an approved location appropriate to the project, students may pursue a research- or practicum-based ISP. For the latter, students select a development organization or social entrepreneurship venture, identified through the program’s academic directors, with which to complete a six-week practicum. In consultation with the academic directors, the practicum can be completed in Kampala or other areas of Uganda with organizations engaged in a broad spectrum of development projects. The practicum helps to integrate the information gained through the Development Studies and the Research Methods and Ethics courses and, as appropriate, Luganda language studies. Both research- and practicum-based ISPs provide the opportunity to analyze development theories using data and reflections from field-based experience. In both forms of the ISP, a final paper and oral presentation are submitted for evaluation. Regular sessions are coordinated for students to share their progress, challenges, and experiences with each other and with faculty mentors in order to become more effective researchers and consultants. 

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Kampala

Language Study: Luganda

Prerequisites: Coursework in development studies recommended


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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