Global Ghana: History and the Diaspora

Studying in Accra, Ghana will provide students with a life-changing opportunity to live and study in a remarkable, historic city where coursework, homestays, and internships will immerse them in the vibrant and awe-inspiring culture of Ghana. The focus of the program is the complex intersections in the past and present between modern Ghana and the African diaspora in the southeastern United States. We will answer questions such as: What are the connections between Ghana and the US? How do both countries influence each other’s music, food, innovation, and fashion? When did the connections in our politics and economics have their historical beginnings? In this fall semester program, students will discover the historic and contemporary ties connecting western Africa to the US diaspora, examining topics ranging from the west African slave trade to the Pan-African movement and beyond. Students from three schools, Rhodes, Centre, and Sewanee, will take part in this unique liberal arts collaboration examining these intriguing and important questions.

Course Credit:

Students will take four courses, totaling 16 hours. F11 will be granted for satisfactory completion of this program.

  • International Studies 255: Globalization and the Challenges of Development in Ghana - 4 credits (F9)
  • Music 116: Ghanaian Popular Music - 4 credits (F5)
  • History 274: Ghana and West Africa’s Pasts in the Black Atlantic - 4 credits (F3)
  • Urban Studies 265: Perspectives on Culture and Communication in the Ghanaian Context - 4 credits (F8 and F9)
  • Academic Internship - 4 credits

Course Descriptions:

Globalization and the Challenges of Development in Ghana:
Taught by Dr. Akosua Darkwah of the University of Ghana. (INST 255, 4 credits, F9). This course will include site visits to locations within Accra that highlight fashion, food, and gender and entrepreneurship. We will begin with a brief history of markets in Ghana as we begin to define "What is Globalization?" From various interpretations and meanings of globalisation, we will investigate globalization’s influence on society including cultural implications. We will discuss topics such as transnationalism, agricultural developments, real estate, manufacturing, and even alternatives to globalization. How does globalization interface with social justice movements and women's rights? What part does Ghana play in international relations for the local region and continent of Africa? We will answer these and other questions as we explore our global Ghana.

Ghanaian Popular Music:
Taught by Dr. Eric Doe of the University of Ghana. (MUSC 116, 4 credits, F5). Highlife music has emerged as one of the most popular world music genres from West Africa in the last century. The music tradition's success on the world stage is closely associated with its Trans-Atlantic influences and the impact of African traditional and imported Western and Black Diasporic performance norms. The present proliferation and popularization of various musical styles marketed as 'highlife' or Ghanaian popular music point to the fact that Ghanaian musical expressions draw their musical characteristics from indigenous Ghanaian music heritage juxtaposed with ideas borrowed from the West. Styles are differentiated according to time, place, and cultural influences concerning embellishment, language choice, vocal timbres, and instrumental resources. This course analyses the musical varieties within genres marketed as Ghanaian 'popular' or "highlife" music. It offers broader political, economic, and socio-historical perspectives on various factors rooted in ethnicity, gender, identity, Pan-Africanism, and generational class relations that have contributed to contemporary understandings of Ghanaian ‘popular’ and highlife music. Our exploration of Highlife will range from the relationships between Ghanaian and West African music research to the marketing of highlife music today, from ethnographic approaches to Ghanaian performance to the philosophical and ethical considerations involved in studying it. Throughout the course, we will consider how Ghanaian 'popular' musicians and related groups have created a range of sound worlds under considerable social, political, and commercial pressure.

Academic Internship and weekly seminar:
Led by Dr. Elsie Gaisie-Ahiabu, an international educator based in Accra. An unpaid academic internship would replace course #1 or #2 above. (Depends on major and pre-approval from Career Services is required. 4 credits). Students will attend a weekly seminar in addition to 10+ hours of internship each week. Students will be placed in internship/service learning assignments at various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), healthcare providers, research institutes, and other local agencies, referred to as ‘attachments’ in Ghana, that are designed to complement the global health and development emphasis of the program, as well as to meet the individual interest of each student. The actual placement of each student will be based on his/her unique academic background, training, skills, and personal interests. The types of attachments available to students are numerous and include areas as diverse as health; environment; family planning; women’s empowerment; new information and communication technologies; agriculture; education; literacy; culture and arts; tourism; politics; economics and business; mass media, and others. Internship duties and responsibilities vary depending on the specific needs of the organization, however, they can include writing, researching, job shadowing, interviewing, advising, teaching, community organizing, mentoring, training, fundraising, photographing, and a variety of other alternatives. The weekly seminar is designed to assist students in working cross-culturally in Accra and to gain the fullest benefit from undertaking an international academic internship. Students will also be given information about ethics, safety, and professionalism in the context of their internship placements. The seminar may include a site visits, weekend field excursions, and day-long community service projects. The internship carries 4 credits, but the weekly seminar is non-credit bearing.

Ghana and West Africa’s Pasts in the Black Atlantic*:
Taught by Dr. Kofi Baku of the University of Ghana. (HIST 274, 4 credits, F3). This course will be coupled with an overnight field trip to the north of the country, the origins for many people who were enslaved and then brought to the Ghanaian coast for transport to the Americas. Student will also visit Cape Coast, the site for two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the “slave castles” Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle. This course provides an introduction to slavery in Ghana and West Africa and the Atlantic slave trade out of West Africa. The course uses Ghana as a window to explore the history and material culture of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade in West Africa. It combines lectures, class discussions, documentaries, and field trips to sites of enslavement, slave markets and resistance to slavery and student analysis of contemporary sources. Instead of presenting a comprehensive survey, covering every aspect of this vast subject, this course takes a topical approach by focusing on a selection of themes and issues that are crucial to developing an understanding of slavery in Ghana and West Africa and the slave trade across the Atlantic. Themes to be covered include slavery and nation building in West Africa, African and European agency in slavery and slave trade; slavery and slave trade in framing the social structure of Ghana and West Africa; the legacies of slavery in Ghana and West Africa and the ways in which slavery is remembered in Ghana and West Africa. Throughout the course, we will pay attention to the debilitating effects of slavery and the slave trade on West Africa and on its development.

Perspectives on Culture and Communication in the Ghanaian Context*:
Taught by Dr. Sarah Murray, Centre College. (URBN 265: Topics in Urban Studies, 4 credits, F8 and F9). Students will define culture and communication within a global context, identifying barriers to intercultural competency. This course will examine how global perspectives influence the way we communicate and collaborate across cultures. Students will examine how we might define culture and communication within a global context. As they navigate the Ghanaian landscape, students will identify perceived barriers to intercultural competency and examine how to become an effective communicator in the classroom and beyond. Students will also analyze how global competency can promote a more diverse and inclusive community. Applying a community-based framework, students will observe and analyze another culture from the inside. In response to specifically framed questions, students will have the opportunity to enhance their critical thinking skills and written communication. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the culture as they interact with family members in their home-stays, network with Ghanaian college students and community members, practice social science research skills such as educational and anthropological fieldwork, and tour local/regional sites. Students’ culminating work will draw from course readings, community-based experiences, and research applications. 

*These two courses are mandatory for all participants. Students will select an additional two courses, or an additional course plus academic internship, for a total of 16 credits.