Envrionmental Studies in Ghana (ESiG)

Program Description for January 2004

This program has been approved for a three-year trial period beginning January 2003. Swarthmore students and others are eligible only after approval by the ESiG Committee of Swarthmore College

Program Outline

Students will reside in Ghana from mid-January to Mid-May of the student's third undergraduate year (or equivalent). Students are expected to receive one semester's worth of academic credit at their home institutions upon return from the ESiG program.

In the September prior to their January arrival in Ghana , students will choose an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies research project from a pre-approved list. This list is compiled and maintained by the Coordinator of the ESiG program, in collaboration with representatives of the U.S. Consortium schools (currently Macalester, Pomona, and Swarthmore Colleges), The project mentor, a Ghanaian professional, will oversee the research project and assign a grade (40% of the total program evaluation). Students will each write a 35-50 page research report while in Ghana, and present that report orally before all mentors and students at the end of the program term. Students will also present the report to their home institution faculty early in the Fall semester following their time in Ghana.

To support the research project, all students in the program will take a course "Human Ecology of Ghana," taught especially for ESiG students under the auspices of the Institute of African Studies for our students (with possible inclusion of Ghanaian students). The course examines the role of sociopolitical history in shaping how environmental questions are asked, and its syllabus has been reviewed and approved by representatives from each of the U.S. Consortium schools. The course meets intensively early in the program and includes guest speakers, field trips, and the presentation of at least three in-depth case studies on environmental issues. The course grade counts 40% of the total program evaluation.

Students also take a course in the indigenous language of Ghana suggested by their mentor (Twi, Ga etc.). This course counts 20% of the total program evaluation and also meets intensively early in the program term, diminishing in student time allocation as the term progresses.

Students will be housed together early in the program term at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon. As the research project increases in student time allocation, student accommodations may change in accordance with the choice of research project, mentor, and location of field work. Meals or an allotment for meals will be provided to the student.

All expenses for the program except insurance and immunizations are expected to be covered by the students' home institutions (including transportation to, from, and within Ghana). Funding for the program will come from student tuition and fees paid to the home institutions and coordinated through Swarthmore College to the Coordinator of the ESiG program.

The Coordinator of the ESiG program for 2004 is Dr. Osman Alhassan, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana.

Student Prerequisites

Students must be in good standing at one of the Consoritum schools (currently Macalester, Pomona, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, or Swarthmore Colleges) or other institution approved by the ESiG Committee. Students must be certified by the appropriate ESiG coordinating committee at each institution to have sufficient background in each of the following subjects prior to January of their third year (or equivalent):

Ecology or Field Biology


International Policy

Representations of Nature in the Humanities

Environmental History/Human Geography

Quantitative Reasoning (data and how to deal with it)

Furthermore, students interested in the program will be vetted by the coordinating committee at each institution for issues of maturity and cultural adaptability before being admitted to the program. Admission will be certified to the student no later than the September before the January program start date.

Selection of a Research Project and Mentor

In the September prior to January start of the program term, students will rank in order of personal preference a list of possible research projects supplied by the Coordinator of the ESiG program. A lottery designed to maximize the number of first choices will be run, and the students informed of their project topics by mid-September. Both the student and the advisor will be notified of the selection, and email/postal addresses will be exchanged to allow for mentor-mentee communication before the start of term. Prospective advisors may wish to assign readings or otherwise improve the chances that the student's background is appropriate for work on the research project.

Within a few days of arrival in Ghana, students will meet their research mentors in person and will initiate planning of the project. Field methods will be taught by the mentor to the student as appropriate. It is expected that weekly face-to-face contact between student and mentor during the first half of the program term is less than six hours, and as the coursework time diminishes in the second half of the program term, contact will exceed six hours per week.

Throughout the program term, students are expected to send summaries of their activities no less often than monthly via electronic mail to a representative at their U.S. home institution. Periodic presentations of research progress will be made by each student to the participants (including mentors) of the program, under the direction of the ESiG Coordinator.

Student Responsibilities

Only students who are serious about working hard and observing culturally appropriate norms will be selected for the program. As ambassadors of the United States, as well as each home institution, it is vital to the long-term continuation of the program for students to take their medications (e.g. antimalarials) on schedule, dress respectfully of the Ghanaian people, and avoid juvenile behavior.

Mentor Responsibilities

Mentors agree in advance to oversee the research progress of a U.S. undergraduate student while the student is in Ghana (mid-January to mid-May). Mentors must teach students field methods appropriate for conducting the research (or make arrangements through the ESiG Coordinator for such instruction) early in the program term. Logistical arrangements for student accommodations, meals, transportation, health care, and coursework instruction will be made by the ESiG Coordinator. A mentor, however, should be willing to introduce her or his student to appropriate contacts (or supply the student with letters of introduction, where appropriate) and otherwise ensure an adequate level of support to allow the student to conduct the research project. In some instances, a mentors may need to travel with the student to a research site and ensure that logistical arrangements are adequate. The Coordinator of the ESiG program has the final authority for decisions made regarding the student's health and safety while in Ghana.

E.S. Consortium Faculty Responsibilities

One representative from each U.S. Consortium school will serve as the conduit for information concerning the ESiG program and has authority for all decisions regarding the students from that school. Representatives will certify each student's fitness for participation in the program, and will receive the students' progress reports during the program term. Representatives will coordinate the presentations by students of their ESiG research projects upon return to the U.S. institution, including evaluation for credit.

For more information about this developing program, and other related programs, contact one or more of the following:

Al Romero - Macalester College

Richard Elderkin - Pomona College

Swarthmore College is the institution under whose auspices the ESiG program is coordinated, in accordance with a memorandum of understanding between Swarthmore College and the University of Ghana. The President and Provost of Swarthmore College have final authority to maintain, dissolve, or modify the terms of the program.

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last updated 5/24/03