Ghana

Africa in the 21st Century

From Ghana, study Africa's changing landscape and develop a critical perspective on mainstream representations of Ghanaian and African society.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

None

Language of Study

Asante Twi

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jan 24 ‎– May 7

Program Countries

Ghana

Program Base

Accra

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Overview

Why study modern Africa in Ghana?

Ghana was the first African country to achieve independence and it plays a leading role in African popular culture and politics to this day. From here, you’ll get a new perspective on Africa, one that complicates and defies Eurocentric representations that downplay the continent’s diversity and prosperity and emphasizes narratives of deprivation and backwardness. You’ll see how technological innovations are affecting social and political realities in Ghana, and you’ll visit government departments, start-ups, and multinational companies to get a feel for the changes taking place in Ghana today.

Highlights

  • Gain a new perspective on Africa.
  • Examine the intersection of society, economy, and technology.
  • Learn to speak Asante Twi, a language spoken by more than 2 million people.
  • Visit Mole National Park, Ghana's largest wildlife park.

Prerequisites

None

Excursions

Accra

You’ll visit different suburbs of Accra and learn to navigate the city like a local. Spend time in various upper-, middle-, and lower-income areas to see how class structure is changing. At Madina market, you’ll explore the evolving status of women and gender relations and what these reveal about a changing political economy and social dynamics in Ghana. You’ll also visit museums, Parliament, private start-ups, and think-tanks such as the Center for Democratic Development.

Ashanti Culture in Kumasi

Famed for its craft villages, Kumasi, in central Ghana, is the country’s second-largest city and is rich in Ashanti culture. During this week-long excursion you’ll visit the Manhiya Royal Palace, the seat of the Ashanti King, which houses a museum. You will also explore Kejetia, a sprawling, vibrant, open-air market, and the new Kumasi mall, a modern complement to the traditional Ghanaian market. A stop at Adanwomase offers a look at kente-weaving, and you will visit Asamankese, a cocoa-growing village with an eye to ecotourism.

Cape Coast & The Slave Trade

At Cape Coast, once the capital of the Gold Coast, and the nearby town of Elmina, you will visit sites where enslaved people were held before being shipped to the Americas during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The area is an important focal point of pan-African history.

At the end of the excursion, you’ll visit Kakum National Park known for its breathtaking Canopy Walkway suspended more than 1,000 feet above the ground. Walk along the treetops to spot endangered mammals such as forest elephants, bongo antelopes, and the Diana monkey.

Takoradi

Large quantities of oil were found off the coast of this industrial and commercial city in 2007, spurring an economic boom. You’ll see how multinational companies like General Electric have boosted the local economy. You’ll visit a GE plant and speak to workers about the role expatriates play in reshaping Ghana’s socioeconomic fabric. Finally, you will spend time at the UN High Commission for Refugees to learn how Ghana hosts refugees from Ivory Coast, Sudan, Syria, and Liberia.

Tamale & Mole National Park

In Tamale, a historic city in the northern region, you will gain insights into Ghana’s changing class structure. One of the fastest-growing cities in West Africa, it is a culturally diverse blend of tradition and modernity. You will go to Larabanga and see a mosque which was built in 1421. In addition, visit NGOs such as NORSAAC, which deals in gender advocacy and ends child marriages, to understand the role NGOs play in empowering marginalized communities. During this excursion, you will again visit Mole National Park, Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge.

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

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

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

  • How Africa is represented in mainstream media discourse
  • Impact of new and emerging technology on Ghana's social landscapes
  • Changes in class structure and processes driving change
  • Changing gender relations and the status of women

Africa in a Globalizing World: Technology and Social Realities in Ghana

Africa in a Globalizing World: Technology and Social Realities in Ghana – syllabus
(AFRS3000 / 3 credits)

Massive social and technological transformations are unfolding in Ghana. The country’s growing middle class is adopting globalization’s multi-national capital and transforming it on its terms. This course draws upon theoretical and analytical perspectives in African studies in ways that illuminate, complicate, and unsettle these frameworks, thus equipping students with new terms and concepts with which to analyze contemporary Africa. Site visits to a broad spectrum of social class sites and rural and urban spaces draw attention to the fast paced change in Ghana, ahead of the still images and perceptions perpetuated by popular media. The course emphasizes the need to understand multiple and complex technologies and their social realities as well as how they evolve in relation to local and global politics and power. By the end of the course, students should be able to explain the limitations of popular contemporary perspectives in taking stock of social realities in contemporary Ghana, describe the forces that are transforming Ghanaian society, and demonstrate a critical awareness of the complexity of Ghanaian society.

Contemporary Africa Re-Represented: Perspectives from Ghana

Contemporary Africa Re-Represented: Perspectives from Ghana – syllabus
(AFRS3500 / 3 credits)

Drawing on theories of representation, this course brings a critical perspective to how popular images and discourses have represented the social realities in Africa today. The course will connect back to the frameworks of imperial and colonial representations and then explore how western imaginations, colonialists and colonization, development discourses, and the popular media have contributed to constructing a space and place called “Africa” and an identity of “Africanness.” The course exposes students to alternatives frameworks for conceptualizing African social realities and equips them with a knowledge base and with new ways to engage with international or “exotic” locations. By interrogating contemporary popular discourses on Africa and how policy and development theory and practice frames and engages with Africa, students obtain new insights and perspectives on Africa’s social realities and students’ positionality in relation to them.

Asante Twi

Asante Twi – syllabus
(TWII1003-3503 / 3 credits)

This course is designed to help students obtain oral proficiency and enable them to adapt to the host culture. Language instruction begins during orientation and quickly introduces students to basic vocabulary and sentence structure and encourages students to immediately begin using Asante Twi. Students will develop strong listening, comprehension, and communication skills and learn use the language confidently and effectively in everyday situations as well as within the context of the demands of the Independent Study Project or internship.

Research Methods and Ethics

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

Drawing upon myriad in-country experiences, cultural encounters, homestay conversations, and community observations, this research methods and ethics course is primarily designed as a field-based course complemented by classroom lectures, assigned readings, and discussions facilitated by the academic director. The course relies on SIT’s in-country professional network and academic and socio-cultural resources to structure assignments and field activities through which students practice and hone their skills in gathering, managing, and analyzing primary data. Students learn qualitative and quantitative approaches of gathering, managing, and analyzing data from primary sources. The course emphasizes ethical considerations that guide primary data collection and culturally appropriate ways of building rapport, initiating purposeful dialogue, forming constructive relationships with organizations and/or individuals, recording and analyzing primary data, and writing a scholarly academic report. By the end of the course, students will produce an Independent Study Project or internship proposal.

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)

This course consists of a four-week internship with a national or international organization that is working in the broad area of social change in Ghana. SIT will use its extensive network to place students in internship organizations, or students may petition SIT for approval of internship placements that they find on their own initiative. Ultimately, each student takes responsibility for making optimal use of resources available at the organization and for being proactive in engaging with local experts to achieve their internship objectives. An internship seminar, conducted via weekly two-hour reflection and assessment sessions are held with the academic director or internship coordinator.

Sample internships:

  • Nyaho Medical Center
  • Center for Democratic Development
  • Java Museum, Elmina
  • L’Oréal West Africa

OR

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

This four-week independent study project, scheduled in the final portion of the program, gives students a unique opportunity to study in depth a key aspect of the program’s themes in Ghana. The ISP draws upon the knowledge and various skills gained from the thematic, language, and research methods and ethics seminars.

Sample ISP topics:

  • Ghana-China relations in the service industry
  • Evaluating the use of mobile phone apps to combat counterfeit drugs
  • Life histories of female entrepreneurs
  • The impact of West African contemporary music on the youth of Ghana

Homestays

Accra

You will live with a host family in Accra and experience the daily flow of life. Your homestay is a powerful immersive learning experience during which you’ll explore dynamics such as family structure, gender roles, food customs, household chores, concepts of space and belonging, and education of children. You’ll have a front-row seat to celebrations and rituals. You’ll gain confidence practicing Asante-Twi with your host family and through the connection of language get to know your host family on a deeper level.

Your homestay family will live in the West Legon, North Legon, Madina, or Adenta residential areas, typically within 30 minutes’ walking distance to the SIT program center in the bustling Accra suburb of North Legon, also known as Haatso. The area, strategically located near a number of universities, has become a hub for middle-class families. Your urban homestay begins after orientation and lasts throughout the program, in between various excursions and during the final week of the program. You may also choose to stay with your host family during the Independent Study Project or internship.

Faculty & Staff

Ghana: Africa in the 21st Century

Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang, PhD
Academic Director
Caren Akoto
Student Services Coordinator
Juliana Sarfo
Office Manager/Program Assistant
Kwasi Atta
Program Services Coordinator
Thelma Ohene-Agyei, PhD
Academic/Homestay Coordinator

Discover the Possibilities

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  • Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

    Fall 2018 alumna Jodi Ann Wong describes a day in the life of SIT’s Ghana program on the Kenyon College blog.

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