Instructor: Dr. Kim Ferguson
Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu
(Isizulu: A person is only a person through other persons)
How do the contexts in which we live influence our development? And how do these contexts influence the questions we ask about development, and the ways in which we interpret our observations? How do local, national and international policies impact the contexts in which children, adolescents and adults live? Should we play a role in changing some of these contexts? What are the complications of doing this?
In this course, we will discuss these and other key questions about human development in varying cultural contexts, with a specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa. As we do so, we will discuss factors contributing to both opportunities and inequalities within and between contexts. In particular, we will discuss how physical and psychosocial environments differ for poor and non-poor children and their families in rural and urban contexts across the globe, with a specific focus on rural Tanzania, urban Malawi, and rural Zimbabwe. We will also discuss individual and environmental protective factors that buffer some children and adults from the adverse effects of poverty, as well as the impacts of public policy on poor children and their families. Topics will include health and educational disparities; environmental inequalities linked to race, class, ethnicity, gender, language and nationality; environmental chaos; children’s play and access to green space; cumulative risk and its relationship to chronic stress; and the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the growing orphan problem in sub-Saharan Africa.
Readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary research in developmental and cultural psychology, human development, anthropology, sociology, psychobiology and public health; memoirs and other first-hand accounts; and classic and contemporary African literature and film.
This six-credit course will include three major components: a twice-weekly seminar with associated readings and written work (three credits); biweekly one-on-one conference meetings (somewhat akin to a tutorial) (two credits); and a weekly small group meeting with associated written work (one credit).
Human Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Integrating theory, research, policy, and practice (Fieldwork)
Instructor: Kim Ferguson
This course will provide an introduction to the methodologies of community based and participatory action research within the context of a service-learning course. All students will work for 15-20 hours per week in a community-based organization that addresses issues of inequality. In Tanzania, all students will live and work at the Janada L. Batchelor Foundation (JBFC)’s Kitongo campus. JBFC is a community-based organization in Kitongo and Arusha, Tanzania that takes a holistic approach to addressing extreme poverty in East Africa. Students will primarily participate in one of JBFC’s four main areas of focus: refuge for abandoned and abused girls (including mentorship and one-on-one tutoring), quality primary and secondary education (including serving as an assistant teacher in the Joseph and Mary school), providing economic opportunity through agriculture and a restaurant-training business (including planting, watering and harvesting crops, caring for domestic animals, and working in their restaurant) and healthcare (including providing administrative support in their newly instituted health clinic). We will also take a class trip to the new Arusha campus. In Blantyre, Malawi, students will live together but work with a variety of community-based organizations that work to improve the lives and opportunities of women and children, particularly widows and orphans. These might include Open Arms Malawi, an infant home that provides holistic care to orphaned and vulnerable infants and toddlers affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS until their relatives are able to financially support them, as well as ongoing support upon their reintroduction into their extended families; the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre’s largest hospital; and The Scholarship Fund for Girls’ Education, which provides financial support and mentoring to Malawian girls to help them complete their secondary education. In Zimbabwe, all students will live and work at Green Island Vision’s Emfuleni campus, in the Matobo Hills region. Green Island Vision is a non-profit organization that aims to provide holistic community-based support for orphans, widows and other vulnerable children and families in the region. Students will partner with the organization in providing educational support for schools, sewing program for widows caring for young children (largely HIV/AIDS orphans), an orphan feeding program, agricultural development, sports workshops and facilities, and outdoor and environmental education for children and adolescents.
In addition to their work in the community, all students will participate in a weekly discussion-based seminar, which will involve invited seminars with various members of the community-based organizations with which we are working, as well as other local practitioners, politicians and educators. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss participatory action and community-based research methods and practice; integrating theory, research, policy and practice; public health and public policy; non-governmental organizations and private-public partnerships; HIV/AIDS and orphan care in southern and eastern Africa; institutionalization and viable alternatives; women in African contexts in light of the HIV/AIDS pandemic; child and adolescent development in different cultural contexts; and understanding and addressing environmental inequalities for children and families, with a focus on children in the global South.
This six credit course will include three major components: 15-20 hours of community-based fieldwork a week (three credits); a weekly seminar with associated reflective writing and discussions of community-based work (two credits); and biweekly one-on-one conference meetings (somewhat akin to a tutorial) with associated reading and written work (one credit).
Human Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Understanding Human Development in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in Cultural and Historic Context
Instructors: TBD (Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe)
This course will provide students with a better understanding of each local context in which they will live and work, and thus will focus on the culture, history, and language of each village or city, region, and country. The course will be taught by local faculty and practitioners in each context: rural Tanzania (Kitongo, near Mwanza), urban Malawi (Blantyre), and rural Zimbabwe (the Matobo Hills region, near Bulawayo). Coursework will involve a weekly discussion-based seminar and associated reading and writing assignments.