Cameroon

Development and Social Change

Examine development issues in Cameroon in the context of culture, politics, and the economy. Explore the Cameroonian immigrant experience in France.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

None

Language of Study

French

Courses taught in

French, English

Dates

Jan 27 ‎– May 10

Program Countries

Cameroon

Program Excursion Countries

France

Program Base

Yaoundé

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Overview

Why study development in Cameroon?

Cameroon, an ethnically diverse and rapidly changing country, is an ideal setting in which to study development. Alongside Cameroonian college students, you’ll discuss project sustainability, funding sources, and beneficiary involvement in project design and implementation with development experts and high-profile political leaders. Focusing on three major socio-cultural groups—Bamiléké, Bagyeli, and Anglophones—you’ll discover the complex relationships between development, modernization, and social change. You’ll also explore Cameroonian migration to France during a week in Paris.

Highlights

  • Study, play, travel, and socialize with Cameroonian students.
  • Meet with high-profile political leaders about their challenges and visions.
  • Examine the effects of ‘western’ lifestyles on indigenous communities.
  • Spend a week in France exploring the vibrant Cameroonian immigrant community.

Prerequisites

None

Excursions

"Africa in Miniature"

Cameroon is a microcosm of the continent’s major climates and geographic zones: mountains, desert, rain forest, savanna grassland, and the ocean coastland. During this program, you will travel to various regions and experience daily life, traditions, customs, and historic and cultural sites of diverse communities. Each thematic module includes an excursion or field trip to allow you to see the issues discussed in class. The program’s French language professors will join your group on visits to facilitate discussions.

Rural Batoufam and Bamiléké Tradition

In addition to taking part in this rural home stay, you’ll learn about the role of the diaspora and elites in community development and the important role of indigenous institutions in health, culture, economy and politics. You will also explore the contribution of traditional leaders in maintaining peace and social cohesion. The chief of Batoufam will share his views of the effects of westernization on Batoufam, his relationship with the state and the Bamiléké people, and the future of traditional institutions.

Kribi at the Crossroads

In Kribi, which is between the Gulf of Guinea and the edge of tropical rainforest, you will visit development projects and have the opportunity to hear from development experts and beneficiaries of the projects. You’ll also examine the challenges faced by the indigenous Baka-Bagyeli minority, nomadic hunters and gathers who live in the forests on the outskirts of Kribi, who are struggling to preserve what remains of their rich customs and traditions due to the realities of modernization and globalization.

Cameroonian diaspora in France

Spend a week in Paris examining development issues through another lens. Cameroon maintains strong albeit contentious cultural, social, and economic ties with its former colonial ruler. You’ll get acquainted with the sizeable Cameroonian immigrant community in Paris, which has established businesses in its new home. You’ll explore the complexities of their remittances on Cameroon. During this excursion you will also learn about the work of international development organizations headquartered in Paris.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

The program’s thematic seminars are taught in English, with a few lectures in French offered in translation. Intensive French language study allows students to engage more fully with communities in Cameroon, and students are immersed in homestay environments that promote further language learning. The Research Methods and Ethics course addresses ethical and culturally appropriate research methodology in preparation for the Independent Study Project.

The following syllabi are representative 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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Social and political history of Cameroon and Cameroon’s future
  • Development theories and best practices
  • Cameroonian culture, dance, and art
  • Women’s transition from traditional to “modern”
  • The Cameroonian immigrant experience in France

Modernization and Social Change in Cameroon

Modernization and Social Change in Cameroon – syllabus
(AFRS3000 / 3 credits)

An interdisciplinary course taught predominantly in English, exploring Cameroon’s complex social history and postcolonial national identities in one of the most ethnically and geographically diverse countries on the continent. In addition to lectures and discussions, the course integrates multiple learning methods including required readings, excursions to relevant sites, group discussions and processing sessions, participatory workshops, student presentations, and independent or self-structured learning.

Development Studies

Development Studies – syllabus
(SDIS3000 / 3 credits)

An interdisciplinary course taught predominantly in English, examining foundational concepts, principles, and paradigms of development studies for the purposes of critically engaging with specific topics and issues relating to the Cameroonian context. Through formal lectures, assigned readings, group discussions, and integrated field visits, students explore the ways in which development initiatives ‘ in local, regional, and national contexts ‘ seek to become agents for changing structural relationships in society.

French

French for Development Studies – syllabus
(FREN2003-2503 / 3 credits)

French for Development Studies – syllabus
(FREN3003-3503 / 3 credits)

French for Development Studies – syllabus
(FREN4003-4503 / 3 credits)

This language course focuses on the acquisition of the French lexicon used in the areas of development and social change to equip students with the language tools needed to work with NGOs and local and international development associations. Students are immersed in course materials designed to build their capacity in comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing skills to support the course’s focus on engaging students with discourses, vocabularies, discussions, and readings centered on development issues in Cameroon. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in the appropriate level, with additional language practice in homestays and on field visits.

Beginning French: French in Cameroonian Contexts

Beginning French: French in Cameroonian Contexts – syllabus
(FREN1003-1503 / 3 credits)

This intensive course is designed to prepare students with little or no previous instruction in French to confidently use the language in daily communications in Cameroon. Another major aim of the course is to facilitate access to the Cameroonian host culture, particularly in the urban homestay. The course emphasizes the development of speaking and comprehension competencies. Cultural context is built into the course and introduced through audiovisual materials and experiential activities accompanying the text.

Research Methods and Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

The Research Methods and Ethics course provides students with the essential tools required to conduct an independent study or internship in either the public health or social research domains in Cameroon. Material includes cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a field journal.

Course Options

In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:

Internship and Seminar
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

International development became firmly established as a field of study and practice with an extensive apparatus that spans international borders, driven by an agenda of closing the global wealth gap at the onset of decolonization. Compared to most countries in the region, Cameroon has, since independence, had relative political stability, which has permitted investments in agriculture, transport infrastructure, petroleum, and timber. In this sense Cameroon provides an excellent setting in which to study mainstream development at play and the transitions that occur as society gets increasingly integrated into modern lifestyles. This internship experience is intended to place students in organizations at the center of this transition, as a way to enable them to appreciate the drivers and goals of mainstream development practice and how they have been structured.

Sample internships:

  • Providing financial support to women entrepreneurs at nationwide savings and credit cooperative MUFFA Cameroon
  • Assisting efforts to end hunger, poverty, and socioeconomic injustice; protect the environment; and support indigenous rights at RELUFA, a nonpartisan national network of secular nonprofit organizations and mainstream churches from all regions of Cameroon
  • Working with Women’s Promotion and Assistance Association to eradicate illiteracy, prostitution, child abuse, poverty, and human trafficking
  • Advocating for farmers and other Cameroonians at Citizens Association for the Defense of Collective Interests, a well-known and respected organization that works to change unfair laws and corruption across all of Cameroon
  • Assisting in projects such as agricultural investment, women’s entrepreneurial classes, and a girls’ soccer program at Breaking Ground, an organization founded by a former SIT student and her classmates on the principle that a community project can only effectively address the needs of a population if it is conceived, planned, and implemented by the community for whom it is intended

OR

Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

Conducted in Yaoundé or in another approved location appropriate to the project in Cameroon. Sample ISP topics: political opinions among Cameroonian youth; Chinese and American development efforts and perceptions in Cameroon; gender roles and standards of beauty in Cameroon; traditional and modern healing: people’s preferences; usages and practices of bilingualism in Cameroonian schools; influences of Westernization on the Bikutsi style of music; oral history of the Bamiléké people; land grabbing and its local impacts; microfinance and women’s empowerment.

Sample ISP topics:

  • Representation and challenge of women’s roles through traditional dance
  • Impact of gendered microfinance on domestic violence
  • Efforts and obstacles toward political change in contemporary Cameroon
  • Cultivating rice in import-dependent Cameroon
  • Political opinion among Cameroonian youth
  • Chinese and American development efforts and perceptions in Cameroon
  • Gender roles and standards of beauty in Cameroon
  • Traditional and modern healing: people’s preferences
  • The uses and practices of bilingualism in Cameroonian schools
  • The influences of westernization on the Bikutsi style of music
  • Oral history of the Bamiléké people
  • Land grabbing and its local impacts
  • Microfinance and women’s empowerment

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Homestays

Yaoundé

You’ll live with a Cameroonian family in the bustling capital Yaoundé. Your homestay family will have an understanding of life in the West through children or close relatives who live in Europe or the United States, or having experienced it themselves. You’ll see how this connection has affected their economic status and way of thinking. This experience will give you an opportunity to further explore program themes in a relaxed and informal setting.

Batoufam

In this rural community, you will be placed with a Bamiléké family and experience their culture, traditions, and arts. You’ll be immersed in your host family’s daily activities. Discussions at mealtime and other activities will illuminate lectures and field visits. You will appreciate an ethnic group that maintains strong ties to its culture despite the pressures of globalization.

Faculty & Staff

Cameroon: Development and Social Change

Christiane Magnido, MA
Academic Director
Nathalie Miste
Student Service Coordinator
Atangana Mbanga Serge
Program Assistant

Discover the Possibilities

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