Uganda: Development Studies

Key Features

"The SIT Uganda program is a completely transforming experience, which sets the ultimate direction for so many people's lives. Uganda has always been and always will be intertwined through my life and soul. Everything I do comes back to lessons that I learned during this semester."   

—Michael Roscitt, University of Notre Dame

Experience the dynamism of contemporary Uganda.
Emerging from a turbulent political past, Uganda is now on a firm path of economic and social recovery. As a result of two decades of economic and political reforms, the private sector, civil society, and nongovernmental organizations in Uganda are vibrant and expansive. The women's movement in Uganda is renowned for its influence throughout Africa. Uganda has also made significant strides in human rights, HIV/AIDS prevention, grassroots development, microfinance availability, community conservation, tourism and development, and studies of development-induced displacement.

While these changes are exciting, they raise many questions. Students explore the social issues that come with these transformations, along with topics related to development theory, foreign aid, the impact of recent oil discoveries, China’s emerging influence, development as a contested terrain, and the sustainability of Uganda’s recent advances.

Engagement with development practitioners, community activists, and Makerere University professors and lecturers provides students with the latest information, theories, debates, and expertise on issues in Uganda. Makerere University students are invited to SIT lectures, allowing local and US students to share ideas and perspectives.

Hone your academic focus with a program elective.
For two weeks in the middle of the program, students concentrate their studies in one of five areas:

  • public health and development
  • gender and development
  • grassroots development
  • entrepreneurship and microfinance
  • environment and development

The first of these weeks is spent working with leading scholars at one of five partner institutions. The second week is spent at selected field study sites in and around Kampala.

Students work with organizations such as:

  • Makerere University School of Public Health
  • Kasangati Health Center
  • Uganda Change Agent Association
  • School of Women and Gender Studies at Makerere University
  • Slum Aid Project
  • Makerere University Business Schools (MUBS)
  • Sustainable Empowerment for Economic Development
  • Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited

Contrasting views in Uganda

Lead sessions to process and analyze new knowledge and experiences.
Weekly processing sessions, which are student-facilitated, provide an effective forum for sharing experiences, cultural insights, and adjustment within the group and with the academic director. The sessions focus on student questions and observations that emerge from lectures, excursions, and conversations with local people. These are augmented with discussions of readings on each program topic.

Compare Uganda’s approaches to development with neighboring Rwanda.
Rwanda, East Africa’s fastest growing economy, provides a stark contrast with Uganda and with fellow member states of the East African Community. Students visit genocide memorials to help them understand and appreciate the impact of genocide on Rwandan communities and how post-genocide Rwanda has made great strides in national reconciliation. Rwandan professors and practitioners provide insights into how Rwanda, backed by rigorous evaluative mechanisms, is ensuring development projects are on track. By the end of the excursion, students have firsthand knowledge of Rwanda’s booming economic growth and the substantive differences in Rwandan and Ugandan approaches to development.

Pursue a six-week research- or practicum-based ISP.
Students have the option to pursue a research- or practicum-based Independent Study Project (ISP). In the practicum-based ISP, students select a development organization or social entrepreneurship initiative with which to complete a six-week practicum. In consultation with the academic director, the practicum can be completed in Kampala or other areas of Uganda with organizations engaged in a broad spectrum of development initiatives. The practicum integrates the information gained through the language, Development Studies, and Research Methods and Ethics courses. The practicum further provides opportunities to analyze development theories in a practical setting. In both forms of the ISP, a final paper and oral presentation are submitted for evaluation.

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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