Madagascar: Urbanization and Rural Development

Study rapid urbanization and rural development efforts in Madagascar while exploring the country’s diversity and rich cultural heritage.

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This program looks at the internal and external influences shaping the island nation of Madagascar. There is a particular focus on urbanization/urbanism and the relationship between rural and urban areas. Students can expect to experience the complexity of contemporary Malagasy culture and society while participating in the daily life of host communities.

Coursework comprises a seminar on urbanization and rural development, a research methods and ethics course, language instruction in both French and Malagasy, and an Independent Study Project (ISP). See program syllabi.

Topics of study include:

  • Urbanization and rural development
  • Cultural identity and social change
  • History, government, and politics
  • Economic and social development
  • Geography, environment, and natural resources

Rural central highlands

Immersion in Tana, Mahajanga, and the central highlands
Students are immersed in the country's dynamic capital city, Antananarivo (Tana), and the coastal town of Mahajanga. The program also has a rural homestay in the Vakinankaratra region of the central highlands. Learn more about the program’s excursions and homestays.

Program lecturers and partners
Lecturers include faculty from local universities, including the University of Antananarivo and the University of Mahajanga, as well as experts from other in-country professional and community-based organizations. Program partners include local NGOs and associations such as Malagasy Mahomby (Mahajanga). See select faculty bios.

Examining Madagascar's complexity and contemporary challenges

Today, nearly three quarters of Madagascar’s population live in rural areas and practice some form of subsistence agriculture. Yet, a rural exodus is occurring at an ever-increasing rate. Within the next ten years, at least half of the country’s population will live in cities. Access to basic infrastructures, such as schools and healthcare facilities, remains a significant challenge for a majority of Madagascar’s people.

Through this program, students consider the multifaceted ways in which ethnicity, language, geography, history, politics, and religion have shaped Madagascar cities, town, and rural communities. Students look at issues such as group cohesion, social splintering, and empowerment, as well as the role played by global forces, including foreign investment and anti-poverty programs.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Antananarivo

Language Study: French,  Malagasy

Prerequisites: 3 semesters French


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

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

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