Madagascar: Urbanization and Rural Development
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Through immersion in the country's dynamic capital city, Antananarivo, and the west coast town of Mahajanga, as well as on excursions in the country's eastern and northwestern regions, students develop an in-depth understanding of the domestic and external influences that continue to shape this island nation today.
Students spend the semester uncovering the many layers of Madagascar's rich cultural heritage to discover why Madagascar prides itself on unity amidst diversity.
The program's core academic components include a thematic seminar, a field study seminar, language instruction in both French and Malagasy, and an Independent Study Project (ISP). Field-based activities throughout the semester as well as urban and rural homestays complement the academic program. These components are designed to reveal the complexity of contemporary Malagasy culture and society while opening doors that allow students to participate in the daily life of host communities.
The program's lecturers include faculty from local universities, including the University of Antananarivo and the University of Mahajanga, as well as experts from other in-country professional and community-based organizations. Program partners include local NGOs such as Malagasy Mahomby (Mahajanga) and SAF-FJKM (Tsiroanomandidy).
Topics for exploration on this program generally include:
- Cultural and sociological perspectives including: linguistic and cultural history; ethnic identity; gender roles; family and kinship; religious beliefs and practices (e.g. veneration of ancestors/razana, tombs, taboo/fady, spirit possession/tromba, Christianity, Islam, syncretism/anti-syncretism); astrology and divination; music and dance; verbal arts (e.g. folklore, storytelling, poetry, proverbs and speech-making); architecture; tradition and modernity as misplaced polarities
- History, government, and political processes including: key historical periods (Malagasy origins; kingdoms, French colonial rule, independence, republics); constitution; democracy and elections; political parties; civic administration; civil society; capacity building; good governance; political crises; foreign relations; national identity
- Economic and social development including: gender in development; education; public health; infrastructures; print and electronic media; agriculture (e.g. subsistence farming, cash crops, cattle); microfinance; industry (e.g. fishing, textiles, free trade zone); formal and informal sectors of the economy; foreign aid and investment; tourism; roles of NGOs and INGOs
- Population, geography, and the environment including: physical and social geography; demographics; tanin-dranzana (ancestral homelands); migration (e.g. rural exodus); rural and urban development; natural resource management; ecosystems; biodiversity.
|Appreciating Madagascar's heterogeneous communities and natural environment
Madagascar’s ethnic, linguistic, and ecological diversity are defining elements of the country’s present-day identity. The country has been shaped by its role as a critical trading nexus and migratory destination of people from extremely diverse locations, including Asia, the African mainland, Europe, and the Middle East.
While distinctions between various groups are frequently a subject of debate, ethnic and linguistic diversity remain key characteristics of the population of Madagascar. Although each ethnic group identifies with a specific region as its ancestral homeland, the country has more recently seen an increase in mixing and migration between regions. Additionally, Madagascar’s endemic flora and fauna have led scientists to classify the island as a biodiversity hotspot.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Madagascar, Antananarivo
Language Study: French, Malagasy
Prerequisites: 2 semesters French Read more...
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