Global Development Studies

Examine contemporary development debates that focus on globalization and its impact on Uganda, with case studies on environment, health, gender, and civil society in the vibrant city of Kampala.

At a Glance




Relevant previous coursework recommended

Language of Study


Courses taught in



Jan 30 – May 14

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon


Why study development in Uganda?

After a difficult past and decades of reforms, Uganda has established itself as a model for contemporary global development. Witness how this African nation has implemented fascinating economic development programs and attracted significant financing from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Perched on Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, the cosmopolitan capital city of Kampala offers opportunities to visit reforestation projects, small-scale farming communities, and the diverse wildlife of Murchison Falls National Park as you examine political, economic, and environmental issues related to development. Explore what makes Uganda’s refugee policy one of the most internationally recognized in the world with visits to refugee camps such as Nakivale refugee settlement. Meet Ugandan university students; study environmental, health, and human rights projects; and develop practical skills like community mobilization, project monitoring, and policy analysis. During the program, you’ll also visit Rwanda, with one of the fastest growing economies in the region, to see its unique development model. This excursion leads us to a critical analysis of the development nexus of the two countries.


  • Study cutting-edge advances in development in a culturally rich African city.
  • Visit refugee camps and historic sites, and survey wildlife in national parks.
  • Participate in a field-based Independent Study or a hands-on internship.
  • Experience both urban and agrarian lifestyles of a fast-changing country.


Although there are no prerequisites, a background in development studies or a related field is strongly recommended.


Western Uganda 

Study Uganda’s shift from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals by visiting projects focused on water, solar power, school nutrition, and growth in the microfinance and banking sectors. You will also visit health projects and shadow community healthcare workers. Conduct focus group discussions with refugees and practice other research methods at a refugee settlement. Finally, take an excursion to Murchison Falls National Park, home to elephants, hippos, and chimpanzees.


Travel to Rwanda to study its political history, how relations with international actors and leadership styles have inspired Rwanda’s fast-paced development, and how this compares to Uganda. You also will visit genocide memorials to explore Rwanda’s recent history. During this part of the program, take site visits to Rwanda Governance Board, Rwanda Development Board, the Kigali Special Economic Zone, and a Millennium Villages Project site.

Eastern Uganda

An excursion to eastern Uganda includes a three-day rural homestay during which you will study water schemes, health centers, schools, small farming, food security, and local governance. Learn how data may be collected in rural settings; practice participatory rural appraisal methods; and observe how rural people support their livelihoods in an era of privatization and economic liberalization.

Single-day Excursions

These typically include visits to sites of historical, cultural, and economic importance, such as Kasubi Tombs, Uganda Museum, Kabaka’s Trail, the Sezibwa Falls, a foreign-funded waste management utility responsible for part of Uganda’s carbon credits, Mwanamugimu nutritional clinic, Uganda’s Parliament, and an urban refugee resilience project.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Analyze the global debates and paradigms of development from the perspective of the Ugandan experience. 
  • Analyze drivers of development and its challenges in the North-South relations and South-South initiatives. 
  • Examine the role of foreign direct investment and official development assistance in development. 
  • Enhance professional skills in project planning and management. 
  • Analyze key models of policy planning and how they are applied by two countries with different results.  
  • Synthesize the learning acquired on the program in the form of an Independent Study Project or internship experience paper. 
  • Develop basic conversational skills in Luganda. 

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


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

  • Natural resources, the modern state, and political conflicts
  • Gender, women’s empowerment, and development
  • History, politics, geography, land rights and food security
  • Economic development, health, and society
  • Models of eco-tourism, conservation, and natural resource management
  • Collaborations and case studies with Ugandan university peers

Contemporary Global Development

Contemporary Global Development – syllabus
(AFRS3000 / 3 credits)

This integrative, interdisciplinary course introduces theories and paradigms of development and concepts of globalization. The course draws on key case studies to illustrate and examine the tensions, contradictions, and intended and unintended consequences of the global development agenda. Key themes and case studies will include theories and paradigms of development, a recent history of global development, economic liberalization and development, the environment, people and food, Kyoto protocols, reforestation and agrarian transitions, governance, politics and economic liberalization, industrial- and GMO-driven farming versus organic farming, global development in post-conflict contexts (Rwanda), health and development, fishing crisis on lake Victoria (tensions between multinational agendas and local needs). Lectures are held at Makerere University, the SIT center, and related sites inside and outside Kampala and given by professors from Makerere University and experts from private nongovernmental organizations and cultural institutions. Assignments integrate readings, lectures, processing sessions, field trips, and/or in-class discussions.


Luganda – syllabus
(LUGA1003 / 3 credits)

The primary role of Luganda language training is to provide students with the principal tools needed to gain insight into Uganda’s many cultures and Luganda-speaking communities. Given its location in Kampala, where Luganda dominates, the program focuses on Luganda as the primary local lingua franca to best facilitate interactions and cross-cultural communication. The course is organized by a language coordinator and taught by a staff of native speakers experienced in teaching Luganda as a foreign language, with an emphasis on cross-cultural communication. Language learning consists of 45 hours of formal instruction. Luganda study is reinforced through the homestay experience and various participatory and interactive assignments. Language instruction may also include simulations and field trips to supplement classroom learning.

Research Methods and Ethics

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

The Research Methods and Ethics course is designed to prepare students to undertake independent field-based research or a practicum experience within a development organization setting in Uganda. The course provides the theoretical and practical frameworks to facilitate successful adjustment to life in Uganda and to enhance student capacity to accomplish challenging tasks in new and unfamiliar settings, while conducting field research or engaging in a practicum that is ethically, methodologically, and analytically sound. The course prepares students for either a research- or internship-based ISP experience using readings or activities designed to build skills in qualitative research methods, including rapid rural appraisal and participatory methods, as well as project selection and refinement. Finally, students consider the norms and expectations of ethical field engagement and reciprocity, while reflecting critically on their role as “outsiders” in the development process.

Course Options I

Choose one of the following options:

Human and Community Development – syllabus
(AFRS3500 / 3 credits)

This course equips students with key knowledge and skills related to the conceptualization, planning, and implementation of micro-human and community development projects in settings such as Uganda. The course introduces students to the core issues in community analysis and assessment, perceptions of development and wellbeing in local people’s realities, and how local participation in project design and implementation can be enhanced. The course also introduces students to methods and tools of policy analysis, development of action plans, and tools for monitoring and evaluation.

International Business in the Developing World – syllabus
(AFRS3550 / 3 credits)

This course examines the historical development of business in Uganda, business formalization and informalization, and business finance in the developing world using Uganda as a case study, business turnover/failure, models and importance of corporate social responsibility, and models and outcomes of public/private partnerships. Two assigned texts provide students with literature and insights critical of the neo-liberal free market model, which has formed the bedrock of Uganda’s economic development policy in Uganda, as a way to contribute to debate and critical perspectives.

Independent Study Project or Internship

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

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

Students may choose to pursue a research-based Independent Study Project (ISP) conducted in Uganda in an approved location appropriate to the project. In consultation with the academic director, the ISP can be completed in Kampala or other areas of Uganda, and helps to integrate the information gained through the Development Studies and the Research Methods and Ethics courses and, as appropriate, Luganda language studies. The ISP provides the opportunity to analyze development theories using data and reflections from field-based experience. Regular sessions are coordinated for students to share their progress, challenges, and experiences with each other and with faculty mentors in order to become more effective researchers and consultants. Sample topic areas: environmental conservation and development; rural finance self-help groups and poverty alleviation; decentralization, participatory processes, and community empowerment; health, education, and the effectiveness of the Millennium Villages Project.

Sample ISP topics:

  • Environmental conservation and development
  • Rural finance self-help groups and poverty alleviation
  • Healthcare systems and management of epidemics
  • Refugee education, health, and food security
  • Decentralization, participatory processes, and community empowerment
  • Health, education, and the effectiveness of the Millennium Villages project

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


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

Popular discourse of the 1990s and early 2000s portrayed Uganda as a successful development case. Progress in the women’s emancipation, microfinance, democracy, human rights and civil liberties, HIV/AIDS awareness, and poverty reduction attracted attention of international development agencies and scholars. This internship experience is intended to place students in organizations that work on a myriad of these development issues as a way to enable them to appreciate the history, complexity, challenges, and opportunities of international development from the vantage point of their internship placement.

Sample internships:

  • Promoting social accountability, equality, and democratic governance at Foundation of Human Rights Initiative
  • Working in refugee settlements or transitional camps or providing support to urban refugee populations through the Office of the Prime Minister’s Department of Disaster Preparedness or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Supporting efforts to provide humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers at UNICEF
  • Working in departments on wetlands, forestry, and environmental services at the Ministry of Water and Environment
  • Assisting an immigration and anti-human-trafficking task force at the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Participating in constructive, creative, and cooperative approaches to conflict resolution at the Centre for Conflict Resolution

Other potential internship sites:

  • Amnesty International
  • Uganda Red Cross
  • The AIDS Support Organization
  • Care International
  • Association of Uganda Women Lawyers
  • Ministry of Gender and Social Development
  • Slum Aid Project
  • International Alert
  • Akina Mama wa Africa Reproductive Health Uganda
  • Kapchorwa Association of Civil Society Organizations
  • TPO

Other potential internship sites:

  • Amnesty International
  • Windle Trust International
  • Uganda Red Cross
  • The AIDS Support Organization
  • Care International
  • Association of Uganda Women Lawyers
  • Ministry of Gender and Social Development
  • International Alert
  • The South and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SIETINI)
  • Akina Mama wa Africa Reproductive Health Uganda
  • Kapchorwa Association of Civil Society Organizations
  • Transcultural Psychosocial Organization
  • Bank of Uganda
  • Centenary Bank
  • Uganda Women’s Network


Urban Homestay

The urban homestay is six weeks with a break in the middle for a two-week educational excursion. Kampala is a fast-growing, modern city representing a diverse range of ethnic groups. Luganda is the dominant language spoken in and around Kampala, so the program seeks to place students within Luganda-speaking families. Expect to become immersed in the region’s social life and form relationships with families and the broader community. Most homestay families live in the suburbs of Kampala.

Rural Homestay

Eighty percent of Uganda’s population lives in rural areas, so this one-week homestay exposes you to the agrarian way of life experienced by most Ugandans. The rural homestay alternates from semester to semester between Busia district among the Abasamia ethnic group, Kapchorwa district among the Sabinyi ethnic group, or Kasese district among the Bakonzo ethnic group. You and one other student will live with a rural host family for three days and three nights.

Career Paths

Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Development consultant at the World Food Program, Lilongwe, Malawi

  • Graduate student in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Princeton in Africa fellow at the International Rescue Committee, Kampala, Uganda

  • Intern, Clinton Foundation, New York, NY

  • Various positions within government organizations and international nongovernmental organizations

Faculty & Staff

Uganda: Global Development Studies

Charlotte Karungi Mafumbo, PhD
Academic Director
Alice Tebyasa and Sam Lumonya
Homestay Coordinators
Hellen Lwemamu, MA
Student Affairs Coordinator
Jackson Sekiziyivu
Language Coordinator and Instructor
Paul Musungu, MS
Office Manager
Angella Male
Language and Cross-Cultural Instructor
Florence Nakiwala
Language and Cross-Cultural Instructor
Godfrey Sebitengero
Nelson Wajja-Musukwe, PhD
Affiliated Faculty

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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    Prepare for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Abroad! In-country conditions and resources vary by site. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact [email protected] for more information.

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