SIT/Hendrix College Rwanda Consortium: Semester Study Abroad Program


The program's interdisciplinary coursework is designed to contextualize Rwanda’s history — including the 1994 genocide — while analyzing emergent cultural, economic, and institutional approaches yielding recent success in conflict transformation, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. A course in Kinyarwanda — Rwanda’s national language — and field methods and ethics provides students with the basic linguistic and methodological tools needed for entry and immersion into Rwandan culture and lays the necessary groundwork for the supervised three-month internship.

Throughout the program period, students should expect to engage in a variety of experiential activities including discussions, reflection sessions, educational excursions, and lectures. Learning will be facilitated by academics, practitioners, professionals, researchers, community leaders, and other local specialists. The two-week group excursion to northern Uganda is designed to engage students in a comparative analysis of development efforts and everyday life in a very different post-conflict environment within the Great Lakes region.

The following syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Specific details for each semester may vary given in-country realities and new opportunities. Learn more about credit transfer.

Rwanda in Context: History, Politics, Culture – syllabus (PDF)
AFRS 3750 / 3 credits / 45 class hours
This course provides an overview of the historical context and the identity politics which, in part, gave rise to conflict culminating in the 1994 genocide. Students will learn about the multiple origins of ethnic conflict in Rwanda and will grapple with reconstruction processes and efforts toward conflict prevention. Students are introduced to a sample of aesthetic expression and representation, which includes literature, visual arts, and media. The course will also provide an understanding of mechanisms of genocide prevention, conflict analysis, and peacebuilding.

Field Methods, Ethics, and Communications – syllabus (PDF)
ANTH 3700 / 3 credits / 45 class hours
This course combines intensive study of Kinyarwanda with field methods and research ethics to provide the student with basic linguistic and methodological tools needed for entry and immersion into Rwandan culture and preparation for the development internship. Kinyarwanda language training is organized and conducted by a language coordinator and instructor experienced in teaching Kinyarwanda to non-native speakers. The sessions on field methods and ethics focus on how to ethically conduct field research, including the methods involved in the development internship, using the tools of participant observation, in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions. While the course skills are applicable to field research more generally, and in Rwanda specifically, the ultimate objective is to prepare students for the development internship and to provide the necessary tools and training to be effective in working with NGOs and local development associations. The course consists of classroom instruction, guided reflection, experiential sessions, field visits, education excursions, and weekly sessions to debrief and process assigned readings and site visits. Individual meetings are also scheduled to help students select the area of their internship and accompany them through the process of establishing contact with NGOs and associations. Language study is reinforced through the homestay, and field visits are used to highlight the role of the field researcher in a post-conflict environment.

Rwandan Approaches to Sustainable Development – syllabus (PDF)
DEVT 3700 / 4 credits / 60 class hours
This course highlights sustainable development approaches and their impact on the socioeconomic development of Rwanda. In this context, sustainable development includes a particular focus on ecology, with emphases on conservation, resource management, and environmental best practices, together with microfinance and poverty alleviation, integrating the cultural, economic, ecological, and political imperatives of sustainability. While sustainable environmental management is primarily focused on biodiversity, forest protection, and efficient use of energy, the course will also address related issues such as pollution and waste management and the challenges they represent for health and the environment. Local academics, environmental researchers, and civil society leaders discuss community practices, local policies, international treaties, and sustainable technologies. The course is also designed to provide students with an introduction to the genesis of microfinance in Rwanda and its development as a stopgap measure to the economic challenges that the country has experienced in the past decades. The proposed lectures provide a background to Rwanda’s socioeconomic history, especially in relation to the impact that the 1994 genocide has had on the economy and the various strategies undertaken to address the economic aftermath. The course likewise addresses the country’s growing dependence on microfinance for poverty alleviation and local development. Students visit small businesses and different entrepreneurial sites to learn firsthand from the experiences of entrepreneurs and social development agents and to consolidate their classroom-based learning. Lecturers are drawn from the National University of Rwanda and government institutions and include entrepreneurial and microfinance experts.

Development Internship – syllabus (PDF)
PRAC 3000 / 6 credits / 180 class hours
The development internship provides students with firsthand development experience through volunteer service with a Rwandan NGO or government institution, while offering reflective analysis of the experience within the context of a post-conflict society. Based on the student’s selection of field categories when applying to the program, the student will be placed in a project site that is best suited to his or her skills, interests, and language competency. The course demands equal amounts of effort and organization on each student’s part to successfully complete the internship and accompanying reflection, thereby providing an entirely different challenge than traditional classroom learning. The internship reflects the culmination of the thematic coursework, Kinyarwanda study, and methods and ethics preparation.

Together with the program director and internship supervisor, students will establish a specific schedule and set of regular tasks. This choice of activities will be based on the organizations needs and/or the student’s specific skills and learning objectives. Debriefings and individual advising meetings will take place on a weekly basis.