Examine competing narratives of the causes of global insecurity and how Senegal’s fascinating mix of religions forges peaceful coexistence and inclusive politics.
Explore how Senegalese society has cultivated peaceful coexistence in religiously plural settings.
In a time when terrorism is often defined by religious extremism and a “clash of civilizations,” Senegal provides a model of religious coexistence in which radicalization is unusual and Sufi Islam has an unusually close relationship to the government.
Learn how urban issues in Dakar intersect with religious identity, gender, and youth cultures.
You’ll critically examine the practices that promote social cohesion in rural and urban Senegal and explore how Senegalese youth perceive questions of security, politics and peace.
Visit important sites in Senegal.
Travel to Joal-Fadiouth Island, where animists, Catholics, and Muslims live in harmony. Visit mosques, including the Grand Mosque of Dakar, the Mosque of the Divinity near Ouakam, and the Layenne Shrine in Yoff (Layenniyya), and have conversations with religious leaders in Tivaouane (the Tijaniyya) and Touba (the Muridiyya) to examine Senegalese Islamic practice in the context of Senegal’s traditional secular republicanism.
Explore international and regional security institutions.
Examine how international and regional bodies are working to promote stability and peace in the wider West Africa region and become well versed in the dynamics that shape security and peace in West Africa.
Explore religion and politics in Morocco’s unique urban cultures.
During upon a comparative excursion to Morocco, you will examine the religious and political relations between Morocco’s and Senegal’s Sufi orders, and how their histories shaped the relations between religion and politics.
Develop new skills in French or Wolof.
Increase your conversational ability and cultural understanding through language immersion in Senegalese society. Courses are conducted partly in French, giving you extra practice in the language.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- Religious tolerance in Senegal
- The relationship between religion and state
- Regional security policies, programs, and projects
- International and regional institutions for peace
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Academic Director to be announced.
Papa Bouna Fall, MA, Academic Assistant and Homestay Coordinator
Bouna graduated from the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar with degrees in British literature and foreign relations. He earned a master’s degree in applied foreign languages (English and Spanish) and a certificate in business from the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris and completed an internship in England. He also holds a master’s degree in teaching from SIT Graduate Institute. Bouna began his teaching career in 1984 as a high school teacher, and today he is a language instructor at the university level. He has worked as a freelance translator for NGOs and institutions such as the World Bank, USAID, and Amnesty International. For SIT, Bouna teaches the Research Methods and Ethics seminar, prepares and advises students during their ISPs, coordinates homestays, and grades assignments. Bouna frequently accompanies students on excursions to Senegalese villages. He speaks French, English, Spanish, Wolof, and Bambara and enjoys outdoor activities.
Aminata (Amy) Siby, Student Affairs Coordinator
Amy completed her studies in American literature and culture at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar in 1992. Family and hospitality are very important to her, and these two aspects of Senegalese life are what initially brought her to SIT in 2003 as a host mother. After hosting SIT students for three years, Amy became the program’s homestay coordinator and eventually transitioned to student affairs coordinator. Each semester, she works hard to ensure that students are adjusting to life in Senegal, particularly within their host families. In addition to serving as an excellent resource for students, particularly on matters relating to life in Dakar, Amy provides administrative assistance to the rest of the SIT Senegal staff. She frequently accompanies the students on excursions in and around Dakar.
Ibrahima Ndiaye, Language Instructor
Ibrahima was born and grew up in Thiès, where he completed the first portion of his formal education. Later, he moved to Dakar to study law at the University Cheikh Anta Diop. In addition to his degree in law, he holds certificates in education, Wolof, Wolof instruction, and business administration. He has also pursued religious education. Before he began teaching with SIT in 2010, he worked with the Peace Corps, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Korean International Cooperation Agency. He currently works as a French and Wolof instructor for SIT and provides private language instruction for individuals and organizations. In his free time, Ibrahima enjoys watching documentary films, cooking, reading, playing sports, nature, and music. He speaks French and Wolof.
Fatou Kandji, Language Instructor
Fatou specializes in intercultural and international teaching and has many years of experience working with Japanese and American undergraduate students as well as Peace Corps volunteers in Senegal. Fatou studied law at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. In 1994, she returned to her hometown Thiès to care for her mother. There, she completed Peace Corps certification as a French and Wolof teacher and started teaching Peace Corps and Japan International Cooperation Agency volunteers. Fatou worked in insurance marketing for three years and is completing a bachelor of business administration with a focus on intercultural communication. She has been teaching language courses with SIT since 2006. She also teaches and works as a research assistant and translator at other institutions in Dakar.
Keba Djibril Mané, Language Instructor
Keba was born and raised in Velingara, a city in southern Senegal. He spent four years studying at the University Cheikh Anta Diop and teaching high school history, geography, French, and Spanish until financial obligations forced him to withdraw from university and focus solely on teaching. During this time he also taught in a primary school’s tutoring and enrichment program. Keba taught Mandinka and Pulaar for the Peace Corps in Thies until the events of September 11, 2001, caused a temporary suspension of Peace Corps operations in Senegal. He has been working with SIT in Dakar since 2002. As a professional musician, Keba plays with several bands, most notably Ndoukouman. He also takes on freelance work for some of Senegal’s more famous musical acts.
Mame Bineta Fall, Language Instructor
Mame is a native of Dakar. She was born and raised in the suburb of Rufisque where she currently lives with her family. Mame studied English, French, and Spanish in the Applied Foreign Languages program at the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar. She also received training as a language teacher with the Peace Corps, with which she worked for two years before joining SIT in 2002. Since then, she has taught French and Wolof to students at SIT. She has also taught volunteers with JICA and gives private language lessons to volunteers and expatriates. In her free time, she enjoys reading mystery and science fiction novels.
Benedict “Papis” Bassene, Office Manager
Papis is originally from the region of Kédougou, though he grew up mostly in Kaolack and Dakar. He received a degree in applied linguistics in the English Department of the University of Gaston Berger in Saint Louis. Before joining SIT, Papis utilized his interpersonal and technical skills volunteering for the Spanish Humanist Movement, a nongovernmental organization aimed at supporting local grassroots community building projects. It was here that Papis began developing an interest in intercultural experience and learning while he served as an interpreter and project planner. In addition to his duties as office manager with the SIT Senegal program, he also teaches English at professional schools in Dakar. Papis enjoys sports, spending time with his daughter, and reading.
Lecturers for this program include:
Mamarame Seck, PhD
Mamarame holds a PhD in linguistics, with a concentration in discourse analysis. He has researched Wolof language and culture, Islamic discourses in West Africa, and Sufi oral discourse in the practice of Islam in Senegal—particularly in the Sufi disciple’s relationship with the shaykh. After teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for six years, Mamarame joined the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, where he serves as researcher in the Département de Langues et Civilisation in the laboratory of linguistics. He has published a book, Narratives as Muslim Practice in Senegal, with Peter Lang Publishers in New York. He is also the author of an intermediate Wolof textbook, Nanu Dègg Wolof, published with the National African Language Resource Center at Indiana University.
Mbacké Diagne, PhD
Mbacké is a linguist, researcher, and instructor of French and English languages. He earned a PhD in linguistics at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (Paris) in 2009. He has extensive teaching and research experience with l’Ecole Normale Supérieure de Dakar and Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and has served the Senegalese Ministry of Education as a member of the national technical team of Project ELAN (Ecole et Langues Nationales) focusing on improving primary-level French language instruction in Senegal and other African countries. He has also served as a member of the Sénélangues project, which documented and described approximately 20 of Senegal’s most threatened languages. Mbacké has widely published and disseminated work on issues of pedagogy and minority and threatened languages in the region. Among his distinctions is that of being honored with the titled of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Lion from the government of Senegal. He is a member of the SIT Senegal local review board.
Moussa Diouf, MA
Moussa is a lecturer with nearly three decades’ experience in English and French language instruction. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and has earned further qualifications in in-service training, interpersonal communication, English language training, and more. His professional experience includes director of the English Language Institute in Dakar and the English Language for Internationals program at Suffolk University in Dakar, coordinator of the British Senegalese Institute Regional Center, and secretary for the pedagogic affairs of the Association of Teachers of English in Senegal. He currently serves as president of the Association of Teachers of English in Senegal and maintains membership in professional organizations including TESOL and IATEFL. He is a member of the SIT Senegal local review board.
The Arts, Identities, and Urban Cultures seminar, promotes an understanding of Senegalese art as a window for viewing the country’s rich, varied, and evolving culture and identities. Over the course of the semester, students learn not only to appreciate various art forms and what they represent, but to create and perform them as well. Students also examine the complex social, political, and economic issues facing Senegal today.
The French in the Senegalese Context language course builds students’ capacities through a focus on the rich and diverse Senegalese cultural and artistic production in French. The Intensive Language Study in Wolof course offers unique insight into Senegal. The Research Methods and Ethics in the Arts seminar focuses on culturally appropriate, ethical field methodology in preparation for the Independent Study Project (ISP).
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.
Senegal: Colonialism, the State and Society – syllabus
(AFRS3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This seminar complements the Re-thinking Global Security seminar, introducing students to contemporary Senegalese society and critically examining the forces shaping its evolution. The first part traces the evolution of the Senegalese state from the colonial encounter to the present, and how this history has produced particular forms of the state apparatus and society. The second explores shifts in Senegalese identities via changing meanings of ethnicity and gender roles. The third part draws on students’ exploration of Senegal’s visual and performing art studios to discuss what contemporary Senegalese artistic forms reveal about Senegal. The fourth part of the seminar critically examines everyday cultural forms emerging in Senegal. The seminar is taught largely as a field-based course. Site visits and field assignment in Dakar, and field trips and excursions to various urban and rural locations provide the data and insights with which students address and analyze key research questions. Readings and videos are assigned to provoke discussion and critical reflection. This course is taught primarily in English and all assigned readings are in English.
Re-thinking Global Security: Politics and Religious Pluralism in Senegal – syllabus
(INTS3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Global insecurity, instigated by rising extremism, is destabilizing our world. The 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center epitomize this insecurity. Popular media and the mainstream academy have framed the rise of extremism in religious terms: radical Islamic groups are attacking a Christian or secular West, they claim – a “clash of civilizations.” Critical scholars point instead to global income inequality and social exclusion, or to reckless wielding of military power by Western governments. How global leaders respond to rising global insecurity depends on how they define, explain, or perceive it. Senegal provides an excellent context for assessing these debates. Stable since its 1960 independence, Senegal is often lauded as a model secular, multiparty African democracy. The Senegalese Armed Forces uphold a republican military ideal, and Senegalese political passions are tempered by a tradition of religious tolerance from Senegal’s Sufi Muslim orders, the Catholic Church, and polytheistic belief systems. How does the interplay of religion and politics in Senegal illuminate debates in global security studies? How has Senegal remained stable? Does understanding its stability offer plausible remedies to rising extremism? This seminar explores questions through class discussion, on-site activities and field research at cultural and religious institutions, and readings. The seminar employs a synthesis of cross-disciplinary literature framed within major security-study debates and ethnographic data emerging from students’ cultural immersion in Senegal.
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Drawing on in-country experiences, conversations in homestays, and community observations, the Research Methods and Ethics course is a field-based course complemented by lectures, readings and discussions facilitated by the academic director. It relies on SIT’s in-country professional network and academic and cultural resources to help students hone their skills in gathering, managing, and analyzing primary data. Students learn qualitative and quantitative approaches. The course emphasizes culturally appropriate ways of building rapport, initiating dialogue, forming relationships with organizations and individuals, recording and analyzing data, and writing reports. The course also examines US higher-education ethical considerations, and how these translate to Senegalese culture. Students develop a research or internship proposal addressing ethical considerations, topic development, methodologies, writing, and reciprocity or civic engagement issues, while sensitizing students to the politics of subjectivity in field research. The course emphasizes local context, identifying potential cross-cultural issues where appropriate.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:
Intensive French Language Study – syllabus
(FREN1003-3503 / 3 credits / 60 hours)
The course enhances students’ French oral and writing proficiency, and introduces them to the variety of Senegal’s rural and urban linguistic cultures. The course takes advantage of students’ immersion in Senegalese society. Students spend 30 hours on formal classroom instruction and another 30 hours on field activities supporting language acquisition such as sports, song and dance, shopping, cooking and treasure hunts. Proficiency assessment includes oral and written tests and students’ use of French during the program. Class level assignment is assessed via an oral proficiency test. A midterm assessment reviews progress in order to reassign class level. An end-of-semester assessment determines students’ final proficiency level.
Intensive Wolof Language Study – syllabus
(WOLO1003-3503 / 3 credits / 60 hours)
The course enhances students’ Wolof oral and writing proficiency, and introduces them to the variety of Senegal’s rural and urban linguistic cultures. The course takes advantage of students’ immersion in Senegalese society. Students spend 30 hours on formal classroom instruction and another 30 hours on field activities supporting language acquisition such as sports, song and dance, shopping, cooking and treasure hunts. Proficiency assessment includes oral and written tests and students’ use of French during the program. Class level assignment is assessed via an oral proficiency test. A midterm assessment reviews progress in order to reassign class level. An end-of-semester assessment determines students’ final proficiency level.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
The four-week Independent Study Project (ISP), scheduled in the final portion of the program, provides students with a unique opportunity to study in-depth a key aspect of global security or religious pluralism in Senegal. The ISP draws upon knowledge and skills gained from the thematic, language, and Research Methods and Ethics seminars. At this point, students will have worked with the academic director and various other in-country experts to develop their ISP proposals and to schedule interviews and arrange translators (if required) and other logistics essential to completing the ISP. They will also have developed the competence to act in culturally appropriate ways and find resources in Senegal needed for ISP completion. The ISP allows students to practice and hone their primary data gathering skills and various other skills learned in the Research Methods and Ethics seminar, such as navigating unfamiliar cultural norms, building rapport, and navigating local bureaucracies. Further, students practice and hone their skills in gathering and analyzing data from primary sources, managing this data, and making a coherent argument in a scholarly manner.
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
Regional, United Nations and multilateral bodies are based in Senegal to provide and support peacekeeping missions in the region. SIT’s extensive network helps students find placements in these and other organizations working in governance, election monitoring and peace in Dakar and beyond. In addition, students may petition SIT for approval of internship placements that they find on their own initiative. In either case, SIT’s academic director must approve of the student’s internship duties, location and placement. Ultimately, each student is expected to be proactive in engaging with local experts to achieve internship objectives. Weekly two-hour reflection and assessment meetings are held with the academic director or internship coordinator to review progress and learning. Students submit a paper that describes, assesses and analyzes the theoretical underpinnings, complexity, challenges and benefits to the community of the work of the internship organization. The internship paper also outlines the tasks that the students completed, reporting relationships, challenges encountered and how the student overcame them.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
The program includes extended field visits to Saint-Louis, southeastern Senegal, and the Petite Côte as well as visits to Gorée Island, the Grand Mosque of Touba, Keur Moussa Benedictine Monastery, Bandia Game Park, and Joal-Fadiouth Island.
You’ll learn about Morocco’s Sufi orders and compare how they have shaped relations between religion and politics in Morocco with the way Senegal’s Sufi orders have shaped religious and political relations in Senegal. You’ll also be able to experience Moroccan cultures, cuisine, achitecture, and landscapes.
Gorée Island and the Slave House
Gorée Island was a busy slave-trading center during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Here, you will visit a slave house and meet with a conservator on the slave trade period. Prior to the visit, you will attend a lecture on development and poverty at the Gorée Institute, followed by a visit to a local women’s organization. You can visit the Historical Museum, the Museum of the Woman, and the community of artists who live and work on Gorée Island.
Joal-Fadiouth Island offers a study in religious coexistence. There, animists, Catholics, and Muslims practice their traditions in harmony and live side by side. The island, off the Petite Côte, is also known for its streets paved with seashells.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will experience three homestays: one in Dakar and two short homestays in rural areas. During the homestays, students are typically placed in clusters—for instance, two or three students in the same neighborhood or in the same village hamlet.
The homestays are an essential part of the program. In living with a host family, you will experience the realities of Senegalese daily life and learn about family dynamics, including family structure, gender roles, eating habits, household chores, waste disposal systems, notions of space and concepts of belonging, education of children, and celebrations and other rituals. The homestays also provide an excellent opportunity for you to immerse yourself in French and Wolof, the primary languages of Senegal.
The program is based in Senegal’s capital and largest city, Dakar. Located on the Atlantic Coast, Dakar abounds with lively cultural activities and is home to well-known Senegalese musicians including Youssou N’Dour, Baaba Maal, Ismaël Lô, Coumba Gawlo, Daara J, Cheikh Lô, and Thione Seck. The program center is located in the neighborhood of Point E. The center is walking distance from Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD) and a hub of NGOs working on development issues ranging from refugees, to education, to HIV/AIDS. The center is also close to major research centers such as the Baobab Center and CODESRIA. You can easily access restaurants and internet cafés.
Here, you will live with a Senegalese family in Dakar for six weeks. The homestay will allow you to experience Senegalese daily life and special cultural events while living in Dakar. You will share numerous activities with your host families, such as going to the local market, tailor, neighborhood boutiques, or beach. You may also attend sporting events (soccer or wrestling matches) or concerts with your host parents or siblings. You may also be invited to naming ceremonies, marriages, and Muslim holiday celebrations such as Tabaski and Korité. You may attend religious seminars/gatherings with members of your host family.
Most host families are considered middle-class by Senegalese standards and represent different professions, including nurses, merchants / business owners, retired army officers, teachers, and tailors. Some host family homes may be within walking distance of the SIT program center while others may be 20–30 minutes away by bus. Most host families have children. If there are no children in the host family, there are usually children in neighboring families. Students often visit each other’s host families.
You will have two rural homestays lasting three to four days each. The first will be in the Wolof village of Ndiane near Thies, located in the peanut basin area in the eastern part of Senegal among ethnic minorities such as the Bassari, Bedeck, Diallonke, Koniagui, Peul, and Diakhanke. The second will be in a village in the Kédougou region, in the Fouta Djallon foothills and close to the borders of Mali and Guinea. The area is home to the Mandinka ethnic group.
The two homestays reveal similarities and differences among Senegal’s different ethnic groups, the contrast between urban and rural cultures, and how tradition and modernity coexist side by side and how they find expression in emerging forms of arts and culture. You will start to discover the rich cultural heritage and vibrant traditional ceremonies and animist practices of some of these communities, and you will be involved in community activities.
Other accommodations during the program may include guest houses, educational institutions, or small hotels.
Students on this program represent many different colleges, universities, and majors. Many have gone on to do work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:
- Recording engineer at Black Viking Studios, New York, NY
- Marketing and events manager at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach, FL
- Agriculture and land program officer at Millennium Challenge Corporation, Washington, DC
- Curriculum and training manager for Partners in Health, Boston, MA
- Social studies teacher at Guangzhou Foreign Language School, Guangzhou, China
You can choose to do an internship. SIT internships are hands-on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, you will submit a paper processing your learning experience on the job and analyzing an issue important to the organization you worked with, and/or you will design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization.
Regional, United Nations and multilateral bodies are based in Senegal to provide and support peacekeeping missions in the region. SIT’s extensive network helps students find placements in these and other organizations working in governance, election monitoring and peace in Dakar and beyond. In addition, students may petition SIT for approval of internship placements that they find on their own initiative.
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You will spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a selected topic of interest. The ISP is conducted in Dakar or in another approved location appropriate to the project.
Sample ISP topic areas:
- How the Sufi branch of Islam relates to the Senegalese government
- Religious co-existence in neighborhoods
- How outward appearance represents religious practice
- Senegal’s successful approach to radicalization among youth
- The subordination of women in Muslim culture
- Minority identity in Senegal
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and 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.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
This program is eligible for a New Horizons Grant, a scholarship for our new programs. Award amounts are $2,500 for semester and $1,500 for summer programs. Students demonstrating need through their submitted scholarship application will be eligible.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers and art practitioners who provide instruction to students in:
- Arts, Identities, and Urban Cultures in Senegal seminar
- Visual and Performing Arts Studio elective
- Research Methods and Ethics in the Arts course on field study methods and Human Subjects Review
- Intensive language instruction in French
- Intensive language instruction in Wolof
- All educational excursions to locations such as Gorée Island, Saint-Louis, eastern Senegal, and the Petite Côte, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $2,800
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Dakar), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays (six weeks in Dakar and two short rural homestays)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Books & Supplies: $150
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.