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Kenya: Contemporary Issues In Kenya and Africa
Nairobi, Kenya (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Academic Year,
Fall,
Spring
Program Dates &
Deadlines:
Click here to view
Budget Sheets Academic Year,
Fall,
Spring
Fact Sheet:
Housing: Homestay, Shard Apt Language Pre-requisite: none
Language of Instruction: English
Non-AU Students Accepted by AU:
Yes
Internship: Yes Advisor: Kelly Jo Bahry
Minimum GPA: 2.75 Class Level Required for Admission: Second-semester Sophomore standing
Program Type:
Partial Direct Enrollment
Advising Required:
Yes
Program Description:

Nairobi CityscapeIs This Program Right for You?

This program is designed for students who are looking to intern and study in Nairobi, Kenya for a semester or an academic year with AU Nairobi, and was formerly called Issues of Sustainable Development.  In the spring semester this program has three different tracks: Development; Public Health; and Environmental Science. The program's main focus is to get students to live through the history, politics, development, and international relations that Nairobi, in all its complexity, offers.  Students will visit with homestay families in rural settings as well as an urban neighborhood, and also live in shared, secured housing with other students on different programs with AU Nairobi, such as the Public Health Program (fall semester only).

Students are encouraged to have taken a cross-cultural class such as SISA 341 Intercultural Communication, SOCY 110 Sociology of the Global South, or ANTH 110 Culture and the Human Experience, or equivalent before studying abroad in Kenya. Students will share orientation, accommodation, and excursions with students attending other tracks who also participate with AU Nairobi. During the program, you are required to participate in an internship and to take Swahili and an institutional strengthening class, as well as choose from several other topics courses that can involve a variety of subjects.  Each semester of this program is worth 16 credits.

You can find much more detailed information on this program and life in Kenya at www.american.edu/aunairobi.

Academics

FALL
In the fall, students will take all of their courses with other AU Nairobi students at the AU Nairobi Center, unless a student chooses to take one course at a partner university set up through AU Nairobi.
Required:
  • Internship (3 cr)
  • Kiswahili (3 cr)
  • Immersion in Another Culture (1 cr)
  • Social and Political History of Kenya (3 cr)
  • Institutional Strengthening in Kenya (3 cr)
  • Choose one of the following:
    • Geographies of Gender in Development (3 cr)
    • a course at a local university (3 cr)
SPRING
In the spring, students are required to choose one of the following tracks:

Public Health
Required:

  • Environmental Health (3 cr)
  • Internship (3 cr)
  • Kiswahili (3 cr)
  • Immersion in Another Culture (1 cr)
  • Pick two of the following:
    • Environmental Issues in Kenya (3 or 4 cr)
    • Geographies of Gender in Development (3 cr)
    • Social and Political History of Kenya (3 cr)

Environmental Science
Required:
  • Environmental Health (3 cr)
  • Environmental Issues in Kenya (3 cr)
  • Internship (3 cr)
  • Kiswahili (3 cr)
  • Immersion in Another Culture (1 cr)
  • Pick one of the following:
    • Geographies of Gender in Development (3 cr)
    • Social and Political History of Kenya (3 cr)

Politics & Society
Required:
  • Internship (3 cr)
  • Kiswahili (3 cr)
  • Immersion in Another Culture (1 cr)
  • Social and Political History of Kenya (3 cr)
  • Institutional Strengthening in Kenya (3 cr)
  • Pick one of the following:
    • course at a partner university (3 cr)
    • Geographies of Gender in Development (3 cr)
Here is a description of all the courses we offer:

Kiswahili (3 credits; required) Kiswahili is the largest and fastest growing African-based language spoken in Africa. Between 100 and 150 million people speak it in various capacities. It is the lingua franca for most of East Africa and parts of Central Africa. It is also the national or official language of at least five nations; Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Union of the Comoros. As a part of cultural immersion, AU Nairobi offers the students semester-long Kiswahili course. While we primarily offer the Beginners’ and Intermediate Kiswahili, students who choose to study in Kenya for the full year may be able to take more advanced Swahili through special arrangement with the AU Abroad office.

Internship (3 credits; required) Many students choose the Kenya program because of the hands-on experience gained at the internship sites. The program has a pool of community development organizations based in Nairobi. The focus of these organizations cover a wide range of subjects and include water and sanitation programs, youth empowerment projects, microfinance institutions, arts for social change initiatives, human rights and justice among others.  Students can work with the resident director to arrange for internships that meet their career or study needs.Students with tshirts

Social and Political History of Kenya (3 credits; required) Over the last hundred years, Kenya has played an important role in the world economy whether this was through the Indian Ocean trade, European colonization, the Cold War, or most recently, the globalism of the new world order. These processes have affected Kenya’s cultural institutions, political and social organizations, and belief and value systems in significant ways. In order to make sense of the country’s past in the present, this course examines a range of thematic topics, among others; the social and political institutions in pre-colonial Kenya societies, the establishment of European settlements and the colonial political economy; anti-colonial African nationalism; the world wars and their impacts on Kenya; and the post-colonial Cold War geopolitics in Kenya. We also examine the most pressing issues facing the country today among these, the Neo-liberal reforms and the globalism phenomena of the twenty first century. The students will have the opportunity to visit the important research sites such as the Kenya National Archives, and write a synthesis paper on a specific issue affecting Kenya’s historical or contemporary development. It is expected that at the end of this course, the student will have attained some understanding of how Kenya came to be, how it relates to the international community and what challenges, both internal and external, the country is grappling with. 

Immersion in Another Culture (1 credit; required) This course is designed to facilitate your immersion into Kenyan Culture in order to maximize your study abroad experience. The class will look at aspects of Kenya’s diverse and complex culture in the context of being an international student. We will explore cultural patterns, identity, ethnicity, gender and stereotypes through an anthropological lens. Guest lecturers will be invited to share their expertise on specific topics.

Institutional Strengthening in Kenya (3 credits; required) Kenya has a vibrant civil society made up of thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups that represent community interests and provide crucial social services to many people. This course will focus on such organizations. The students will have the opportunity to study the locally-based NGOs in terms of their structures, their approach to particular issues of development, the challenges they face and the overall political and social context in which these organizations operates. The course will be closely linked with students’ internships (see below). As such, the students will be expected to gain first-hand experience through observing and participating in the work of at least one developmental organization. As many of these organizations subsist largely on financial grants, the student will be expected to develop a model grant proposal for the organization one will have worked with.

Geographies of Gender in Development (3 credits) This course will investigate a number of competing conceptions of development within the African context from a gendered perspective. The underlying political, economic, social, and gender dynamics that make "development" a continuing global problem will be explored by looking at issues such as health and reproductive rights, livelihoods and land rights, human security and political participation. It will examine women's contributions to, challenges to, and revisions of the terms of key conceptual and political debates in development.  It is taught at the AU Nairobi Center.

Environmental Health (3 credits; Spring only) This course will examine the physical, chemical and biological factors in the environment that impact community health and health behaviors. The concept and methods of risk assessment will be discussed, as well as how health-supportive environments can be created and maintained.  It is taught at the AU Nairobi Center.

Environmental Issues in Kenya (3 or 4 credits; Spring only) This course will explore current environmental issues with a specific focus on Kenya. Through readings, discussion, field trips, and written assignments, we will focus on three key areas: wildlife conservation, sustainable agriculture and marine ecology. We will also discuss sustainability principles and challenges, including the causes and consequences of environmental degradation. Finally, we will investigate and discuss real-life threats to biodiversity and conservation challenges in Kenya including over-exploitation of natural resources, desertification, poaching, coral bleaching and conflict between humans and wildlife.  This is an online course for students in Kenya which is taught concurrently with students who take it in person from Professor Van Doorn at American University.  For an additional program fee, students will have the option to take an additional one credit ten day academic excursion to multiple locations at the end of the semester with Professor Van Doorn as she explores the themes of the course.

A course at a local university (3 credits; optional)

 

Academic Year Students

Independent Research Project (3-6 credit hours offered to full-year students in the second semester)
Students who choose to stay in Kenya for a full year will do an independent study during their second semester. Through consultations with the country director and professors at AU (or for non-AU students, professors at their home universities), students will be given an independent study advisor and spend the semester exploring a specific topic. This will culminate in a final project or paper that may be combined with a capstone project or senior thesis.

Scholarships

AU Abroad offers several merit based Mobility Awards every semester ranging from $250 to $2500.  Students need who are interested in applying for the Mobility Award need to do so separately from the AU Nairobi application.

Student Lifestudents with kenyans

More detailed information on student life is provided through www.american.edu/aunairobi.

Kenya is a fascinating place, and you will get to know just a taste during your semester. Now with a population of around 30 million and over 40 tribes, Kenya’s multiplicity is easily felt in this capital city.  Currently Nairobi is home to about 2.5 million inhabitants and the numbers are growing.  As a result, Nairobi has become a very metropolitan city, with the complexities of any globalizing culture.  The city provides a place to converge for intellectuals, politicians and political activists, artists and entertainers, successful business owners, and laborers.  Residents include large communities of refugees from across the continent, expatriates, and descendants from the Indian subcontinent, not to mention the Kenyans who have a historical legacy with the area or who come to the city looking for work.

Nairobi is very representative of a global phenomenon – urbanization of the rural poor and the issues that come with it.  Nairobi is also a major international hub of Africa with a myriad of organizations ranging from the headquarters of the UN Environmental Program to an assortment of NGOs and businesses.  If city life becomes overwhelming Nairobi provides a base in which rural areas and national parks are easily accessed in as little as one hour drive away.  The AU Nairobi program recognizes the assets Nairobi offers and the need to educate in an urban environment to better prepare students for the challenges faced by international workers in this ever growing, interdependent, global society.

Weather

Although the equator bisects the country – leading to assumptions that it must be hot! - be prepared for Nairobi to be colder than you expect since it is over a mile high by altitude.  Instead of the traditional four seasons that many people in America are used to there are the ‘long rains’ and ‘short rains’ in Kenya.  In Nairobi the ‘long rains’ are usually from March to the beginning of June and the ‘short rains’ are from October to the end of November.  In its coldest nights Nairobi can be around 45 F and on the hottest days it can get up to 90 F.

Accommodation

Students will live in three very different ways during the semester in Nairobi.  During part of orientation and then during "rural week" students will live in a rural setting.  Students will then live with homestay families in Nairobi for three to four weeks. Then students will live in their own private and secure apartments.  These apartments are fully furnished and offer a TV, kitchen, a laundry room, and maid services. Each apartment can house at four to five students. Electricity is paid by the students, and meals are not included in the program fee.  Students will only share these apartments with all AU Nairobi students.

Excursionsturkana

There will be many day trips incorporated into the program during you semester.  Students are not permitted to leave Kenya during their time with AU Nairobi and will be alerted to any place they are not allowed to travel within the country.

The programs core overnight excursions included in the program fee are:
  • Orientation – part of the intensive orientation period takes place in a smaller town outside of Nairobi. Here students will be introduced to survival Swahili, go through a cultural orientation process and have their first immersion into Kenyan life.
  • Rural Excursion – Each semester, students will be taken to a rural village site where they will engage in various rural development projects. These trips also include visits to local landmarks and a homestay experience.
  • End of Semester Excursion – Students will be treated to a retreat during their final week in Kenya. This an opportunity to hike and explore conservation issues, as well as debrief on everything learned during the semester.

Immunizations and Visas

There are no immunizations required for international travelers entering Kenya, but the Center for Disease Control strongly recommends a list of immunizations that are available through a specialized medical practitioner.  Visas for American citizens can be acquired through an online process for a fee, and AU Nairobi will help students gain a student residence permit.  If you are not an American citizen please consult with the study abroad advisor and the Kenya embassy before you leave for Kenya.
 

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2015 03/11/2015
**
Varies by program 09/01/2015 12/19/2015
Academic Year 2015-2016 03/11/2015
**
Varies by program TBA TBA
Spring 2016 10/07/2015 ** Varies by program TBA TBA
NOTE: Students will learn of acceptance approximately 2 weeks upon completion of application.

** The time it takes to receive an admissions decision varies greatly by program; it can take as little as two weeks or as long as several months. Contact AU Abroad for further details on your program's admissions timeline.

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