Kenya: Urbanization, Health, and Human Rights
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"My experience in Kenya has had a profound impact on who I am as a person, a student, and as an aspiring development practitioner. The SIT staff was instrumental in fostering my development by challenging me to think deeper, to ask more questions and to go beyond what is comfortable, and I am forever grateful to them."
-- Hailey Chalhoub, Stonehill College
Study the intersections of health, human rights, and cities at multiple sites in Kenya, where rapid urbanization is transforming access, equity, and well-being.
This program examines health and human rights in Kenya through a complex constellation of urban issues including housing, urban infrastructures, land tenure, informal settlements, food (in)security in the city, and evictions.
Students consider demographics, public health education, HIV/AIDS, health issues of orphaned and vulnerable children, women’s healthcare needs, differential access to healthcare, and mental healthcare, among other topics, in various cultural contexts.
Students examine Kenya’s healthcare challenges, practices, and systems, in both rural and urban contexts, together with analyses of locally informed debates surrounding human rights.
The program consists of two thematic seminars; an intensive language course in Kiswahili, together with multiple homestays, to hone language skills; a course on research methods and ethics; and the opportunity to conduct in-depth, primary field research through the Independent Study Project (ISP). See course syllabi.
Study in Nairobi, Mombasa, and elsewhere in Kenya.
The program has two bases: Nairobi and Mombasa. Students interact with a wide array of SIT partners and contacts in Nairobi, the regional base for numerous local and international nongovernmental organizations, and also in cosmopolitan Mombasa. Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa is the site of emerging coalitions of Muslim and interfaith activists and civil society organizations challenging Kenya’s status quo on issues of health and human rights. Learn more about the program bases.
Students also have group excursions to Kisumu, a vibrant city on Lake Victoria, and Lamu, an ancient example of African urbanization on the Indian Ocean and a focal point for regional economic development, as well as a one-week rural stay with a Mijikenda community in Takaungu. Shorter excursions include Malindi and the future site of Konza Techno City. Homestays and educational excursions help illustrate the outcomes of differential access to healthcare and the attendant challenges to human rights throughout Kenya.
In-country resources and program partners typically include:
- University of Nairobi
- National Museums of Kenya
- Carolina for Kibera
- Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
- Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI)
- Gender Violence Recovery Centre
- Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK)
- Shining Hope for Communities
- Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA)
- Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
- African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF)
- Coast Rights Forum
- Kisumu Youth Olympic Centre
- SANA International
Spotlight on SIT Kenya Alumni
Jessica Posner Odede, a Wesleyan University student and 2007 Kenya program alumna, was intensely moved by her experiences in Kenya. She teamed up with Kennedy Odede, the founder of Shining Hope for Communities, an organization that works to combat intergenerational cycles of poverty and gender inequality. Together they established the Kibera School for Girls, which has expanded to include a clinic, housing, and gardens. The school uses an innovative approach that provides education as well as essential health and economic services to the community, with a special focus on young women and girls. Watch Jessica’s TEDx talk on building community.
Check out Faces of Angels: Real Stories of AIDS-affected Children in the Kibera Slums, a unique photo book created by program alum Sandhira Wijayaratne (Johns Hopkins University), based on work completed during her ISP.
SIT Study Abroad alum studied self-esteem of Kenyan girls.
SIT alum finds education scholarships for Kenyan youth.
This program was featured on the Abroad 101’s list of top non-traditional study abroad destinations.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Nairobi and Mombasa
Language Study: Kiswahili
View Student Evaluations for this program:
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