The Course

This program is a joint initiative of SUNY Geneseo and the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) that provides students the opportunity to engage in grassroots development work with a local NGO in Uganda.  Students spend eight weeks designing and implementing a development project through FSD, supplemented by three days of pre-departure course work (May) on development theory and practice taught at Geneseo and a week of training by FSD upon arrival in Uganda.  Students will also meet informally bi-weekly with Professor Grace during the Spring semester to complete advance readings on African development issues. 

Students can register for either three or six credits for participating in the program.  All students will be registered for INTD 388, Exp: Development Fieldwork in Uganda.  Upon completion of the fieldwork in Uganda, students will write and submit a "project evaluation" that discusses the specific project, how it aimed to address existing socio-economic development gaps in Uganda, and an analysis of project successes and constraints.  Students who opt for 6 credits will also enroll in PLSC 395, Internship and write an additional detailed research paper that links the experience to broader theoretical and policy issues in international development (both courses are completed online).

FSD's philosophy is that rather than solving deficiencies in a community, development efforts should work to augment communal asset and increase the capabilities of residents to better their own lives.  In this way, FSD seeks to develop impoverished areas from the grassroots level in a way that can be permanently sustained.  FSD works closely with the students and with local NGOs to ensure that students are provided a good match in terms of their interests and capabilities.  Student groups of 3 - 5 will then be assigned to host families in the communities where they will be working for the next eight weeks.

The Setting

Winston Churchill once stated that "Uganda is the pearl of Africa" in reference to the country's striking natural beauty, climate, and variety of rich landscapes.  Unfortunately, the country currently ranks as one of the 20 poorest nations in the world and 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

This translates to a lack of basic infrastructure such as running water, electricity, waste management, health care, and education.  Since 80 percent of employment is based in agriculture, mild climate changes have devestating effects, forcing many Ugandans deeper into poverty.  Further compounding these development issues is HIV/AIDS, which to date infects one million citizens and has created three million orphans.

Nevertheless, although Uganda has suffered from periodic episodes of instability since its independence in 1962, the years since 1987 have witnessed a substantial return to stability.  Today, the state is relatively stable after 25 years of stereotypically "strong man" rule by Yoweri Museveni.  Kampala has changed into a major centre of East African trade and tourists of all nationalities flock to the country to explore its vibrant cultural life and extra-ordinary natural beauty and habitat.