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Cameroon: Development and Social Change (SIT)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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This SIT program explores two main topics: development theories and practices as well as the changing cultures, politics and economy in Cameroon. The program will enable you to increase your understanding of development through carefully selected case studies of Carmeroonian development organizations. Additionally, you will gain insight into the transitioning cultures, politics and economy of Cameroon, with a focus on three major socio-cultural groups: the Bamileke, the Bagyeli, and the Anglophones. Students study alongside Cameroonian students. Major topics of study include:

  • Development theories and practices
  • Successes, challenges, and prospects for development organizations currently working in Cameroon
  • Nation-state issues
  • Social, economic, and political change within ethnic groups
  • Issues of women in development

Cameroonian students complete all of the program's components (courses, excursions and Independent Study Projects) alongside SIT students. You will study, travel and socialize together, which allows you to explore the program's themes in ways that would not be possible in a classroom with students of a single, or only a few, nationalities. With Cameroonian peers, you will analyze key issues facing Cameroon, including colonization, neocolonization, globalization, cultural values, the participation of youth and women in national affairs, and the transition from tradition to 'modern' society.

You will spend five weeks in a homestay in Yaounde, 10 days with a host family in Batoufam and 10 days with a family in Bamenda. During the final four weeks of the program, as you complete your internship or Independent Study Project, you will also stay with local families. These comparative homestay experiences will give you a better understanding of the differences between the urban and rural areas and facilitate immersion in Cameroonian host communities. Other accommodations during the program include hostels, private homes and small hotels.

You will have the option to spend four weeks engaged in an Independent Study Project (ISP), with the opportunity to pursue original research on a topic of particular interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Yaounde or in another approved location in Cameroon appropriate to the project. Sample ISP topics:

  • Impact of gendered microfinance on domestic violence
  • Efforts toward and obstacles impeding political change in contemporary Cameroon
  • Cultivating rice in import-dependent Cameroon
  • Chinese and American development efforts and perceptions of those efforts in Cameroon
  • Gender roles and standards of beauty in Cameroon
  • The influence of westernization on the Bikutsi style of music
  • Oral history of the Bamileke people
  • Traditional and modern healing and preferences for healthcare

You will also have the option of completing an internship during the last four weeks of this program. For this internship, you will be placed with a local Cameroonian organization where you will gain real work experience related to the program's theme and develop professional skills you can use in your career. Cameroon has had relative political stability since independence, which has permitted investments in agriculture, transport infrastructure, petroleum and timber industries. In this sense, Cameroon provides an excellent setting in which to study mainstream development in action and the transitions that occur within a developing society. This internship will place you in an organization at the center of this transition to enable you to appreciate the driving forces and goals of mainstream development practice and how they have been structured. This is also good preparation for a Peace Corps application.

Learn more about the SIT Cameroon: Development and Social Change program and other SIT programs.

Credits: 4.5 Knox credits for the fall or spring semester

Advisor:  Professors Katie Stewart and Andy Civettini

Click here for more information about the application process, program selection, and more!

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Printed on Monday, May 23, 2022