Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

“SIT was an invaluable experience for me. It is so rare that you are put into a situation where you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a totally new culture, language, and way of life while being surrounded by incredibly talented and caring people. SIT gave me the perfect balance of freedom and support to learn amazing things about my surroundings.”

-- Peter Glidden, Wesleyan University

Explore Ghana’s rich cultural heritage and contemporary society. Engage with Ghanaian scholars, writers, and artists.

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A country renowned for its dynamic cultural expressions, Ghana boasts an outstanding artistic heritage that manifests itself in all aspects of performance and craft. Students explore this rich heritage through deep and meaningful engagement with Ghanaian scholars, artists, dancers, musicians, painters, sculptors, weavers, writers, and other in-country experts. Interdisciplinary coursework, in the classroom and in the field, reveals to students the historical and contemporary circumstances that have shaped Ghanaian society and the artistic outputs of this complex and highly diverse West African country.

Lecturers are drawn from various Ghanaian institutions such as those listed below and also include individuals renowned for their work in all aspects of visual and performing arts:

Explore Ghana through Multiple Lenses
Students examine Ghana's social, economic, and political features through contextual lectures that provide the necessary foundation to understanding the country as a whole, while location-specific seminars reveal the importance of understanding local circumstances. Topic areas covered in the southern regions of Ghana include education and religious traditions, the impact of the transatlantic slave trade, and the role of Krobo’s Queen Mothers. Thematic seminars in northern Ghana examine topics such as the relationships between modernity and traditional cultural expressions and the role of local markets in the global economy.

The program is based in Ghana's capital, Accra, a cosmopolitan city of nearly three million people. Accra is the political and economic heart of Ghana, and home to cutting-edge, forward-thinking visual and performing arts circles. Students attend lectures at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana to study the historical factors affecting Ghana's present-day political, economic, social, and artistic processes. Ghana is a country still very much influenced by its colonial history, as evidenced by the country's current institutions. With a particular emphasis on society, transformation, and the arts, the program explores the ways in which Ghanaians negotiate their history, to generate a dynamic present while finding their place in today's increasingly interconnected world.

Educational excursions are a central component of the program. Visits across the country — to museums, shrines, and other locations of academic interest — are carefully designed to enrich seminars and language study. Deep immersion in Ghana's highly distinct regions gives students a thorough understanding of the multiple factors — local/global, urban/rural, economic, political, religious, and social — shaping Ghana's contemporary circumstances. Students explore different locations, from Accra in the south to Tamale in the north, continuously examining contemporary and "traditional" art forms.

Homestays in three different Ghanaian communities provide students with invaluable learning experiences and cultural insight. Language study at Kumasi Anglican Secondary School (KASS) further facilitates cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.

Spotlight on SIT Ghana Alumni  

Peter Glidden works to create social change in his homestay village.
As a student on the Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression program, Peter Glidden was placed with a homestay family in Beposo village. Though Peter’s time in Beposo was short, he made some amazing friendships, and the leaders of the community asked Peter to be Beposo’s chief of development.

SIT Ghana alum helps Philadelphia youth come of age through art:
Inspired by traditional puberty rites in Ghana, Julia Katz designed an after-school program for girls growing up in the inner-city. The program was based on a rite of passage ritual that Julia researched during her Independent Study Project.   

"My experience studying abroad in Ghana has had a huge influence on me since, including influencing my paintings in graduate school and inspiring me to apply for a Fulbright fellowship so I could return to Ghana to recharge creatively." (PDF)

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Accra

Language Study: Twi

Prerequisites: None


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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