University of Calgary

Give and take in Ghana

Submitted by tdroden on Sat, 01/15/2011 - 18:05.

Give and take in Ghana

Faculty of Arts researchers and students are exploring solutions to myriad challenges faced by a vulnerable African nation and learning much in the process
Story by Jennifer Myers | Photos by Justen Lacoursiere

The Students for Development Program enhances the international portion of the students' degree as well as contributes to their learning and understanding of global issues.The Students for Development Program enhances the international portion of the students' degree as well as contributes to their learning and understanding of global issues.

Ghana is a nation steeped in contrasts and possibilities. It is rich in ancient traditions, a one-time hub for gold and ivory exports and a modern model for other African countries with its political structure and economic growth. At the same time, it is a country whose population struggles with poverty and where governments embrace emerging global concerns but often lack the resources to address their impacts on citizens. Among the contrasts and possibilities, Ghana remains a vulnerable nation.

Dr. Wisdom Tettey and Dr. Caesar Apentiik.

Faculty of Arts researchers and students at the University of Calgary are studying the ways in which contemporary Ghana wrestles with the social and economic impacts of environmental issues, advances in technology and social justice, and are working with NGOs and legislators to contribute to solutions.

Dr. Wisdom Tettey, a professor of development studies, has conducted research in his homeland of Ghana for more than 20 years. He and his colleague Dr. Caesar Apentiik, who teaches in the development studies and African studies programs, and who was also born in Ghana, are opening doors to undergraduate students to conduct a variety of research projects in this complex African land.

Tettey and Apentiik use their connections to link students to appropriate NGOs and local organizations. In the past five years, each has been successful in securing grants from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, with financial support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), for the university's Students for Development Program (SFD).

The SFD program, launched in 2005, helps third- and fourth-year undergraduates through to PhD students participate in internships for a minimum of three months in partner developing countries.

Student Al-Karim Madhavji.

The program's goal is to increase collaboration between Canadian universities and developing country partners to address the CIDA priorities of increasing food security, stimulating economic growth and securing the future of children and youth.

"The program enhances the international portion of the students' degree as well as contributes to their learning and understanding of global issues," says Apentiik.

As part of the program's requirements, the students on their return to Canada complete course work, including public engagement activities. This allows them to share their experiences with the campus and Calgary communities as well as to engage the public on Canada's contribution to, and role in, international development efforts.

"The SFD program sits well with my own research which focuses on how indigenous communities engage with specific natural and social-cultural economic and political environments, as they negotiate their survival in the unfolding context of globalization and its local manifestations," says Apentiik.