Study international development in Senegal, a fascinating French-speaking country seen as a bridge between Africa and the West. You’ll also contribute through an internship or research project with a nonprofit organization while you are there. Explore the complexities created by issues such as the environment, globalization, public health, and social justice.
|Location||Dakar and Other Locations, Senegal|
|Term||Fall Semester, Spring Semester|
|Credit Type||Resident Credit|
|Sponsor||Learning Abroad Center|
|Student Type||UofM Students, Non UofM Students|
|Student Year||Juniors, Seniors|
|Language||Minimum 4 semesters college-level French|
Learning from experience is the core of Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID). The program puts you in direct contact with the social and economic realities of actual communities and of people working within them to address complex problems. Through classes, field trips and an extended internship or research placement, MSID strives to establish a continual dialogue linking experience with theory and critical analysis. Learn more about the mission and educational philosophy at MSID Philosophy.
Senegal has long been seen as a crossroads where African, Islamic, and European civilizations have met, clashed, and blended. Today, it is still seen as a bridge between Africa and the West. But it is also a place where Senegalese people remain deeply attached to traditional values and cultures. This program is based in Dakar, Senegal's cosmopolitan capital. Heated by the African sun while surrounded on 3 sides by cool Atlantic waters, Dakar has a climate often described as "eternal spring."
You will live with a homestay family throughout your time in Senegal. Students who choose an internship or research placement outside of Dakar will have a second homestay.
Homestay families provide breakfast and dinner daily; you will be responsible for providing your own lunches. Host families can typically accommodate a variety of dietary needs, but students with severe food allergies and/or restrictions should discuss their situation with the program team prior to applying.
Homestays are an integral component of the learning experience and often a highlight for participants. Your family provides not only housing and most meals but is also a vital connection to Senegalese culture. Nearly all families have hosted program participants before and have been chosen for their genuine interest in sharing Senegalese life with an MSID program participant.
Although excursions change from year to year, you can expect to visit a variety of sites that may include local markets, development organizations, and areas of interest around Dakar.
A team of dedicated local staff based in Dakar work to ensure that your MSID experience is safe, academically enriching, and rewarding.
Dr. Sène chaired the Department of English, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, for 10 years. He received his PhD in literature from the École Normale Supérieure de St. Cloud and the Université Paris III-Sorbonne. He has taught and done research on francophone and anglophone literature at several North American and European institutions. Among his special interests is the portrayal of African social, cultural, and development issues through literature. Dr. Sène is currently director of the West African Research Association, the institution housing MSID in Senegal. He has been involved with MSID—Senegal since 1995.
Mr. Faye is the Program Coordinator. He assists with the internship and research placements and other aspects of MSID administration and has an academic background in development studies.
All MSID courses are taught by Senegalese faculty who are experts in their fields.
Learning Abroad Center programs are:
|Program Type||Field Study, Study Abroad Center|
|Program Level||3000–4000 level courses|
You are required to take 16 credits for fall or spring semester. Add 4 credits for optional language pre-session.
Spend 7 weeks engaged in coursework in Dakar followed by 6 weeks in a rural area working as an intern or conducting a research project with a local grassroots organization. MSID students enroll in 4 required courses, in addition to an internship or research project:
The Intensive French in Senegal is offered in August and in January for students who are interested in strengthening their French language skills to enhance their ability to understand the media, newspapers and to converse with the French speaking population. One language course is taught over 3 weeks and awards 3 undergraduate credits. Intermediate and Advanced French levels are offered.
The internship and research experience is the cornerstone of the MSID program and may be where you will learn the most. Your placement will be with an agency engaged in grassroots work related your selected track and will immerse you in the social realities of the poorer strata of the population.
During the classroom phase, the on-site staff will review your interests and attempt to place you with an agency whose goals match your objectives. Most requests within a general field can be accommodated, but adjustments may be made based on availability. Details about the internship and research process are in the Program Handbook.
The internship or research objectives will be agreed to by MSID, the agency supervisor, and you and will involve at least 25 hours per week of work. Twelve contact hours are incorporated into the classroom phase and provide specific training on research methodology to prepare students for their research or internship project.
See a description of past internship and research placements for this MSID country.
The semester courses are outlined below along with sample syllabi translated into English. The updated semester course packet in French is also available. All classes are with program participants and are taught by local faculty. Students select either French language or Wolof as their language course. Through the coursework and the internship or research project, you have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the complex and diverse nature of development as realized in your MSID country. All courses are taught in French (except the Global Identity course).
French majors and minors who need to have their internship or research project conducted in French (not Wolof) should be prepared to remain in Dakar during the internship/research phase and should clarify this on the Internship and Academic Information Form that is completed as part of the acceptance process. These students will also enroll in the French course SNGL 3015 or SNGL 3016 rather than the Wolof course.
In addition to the formal French course listed below, an informal advanced French conversation class is offered weekly and incorporated into the Country Analysis course to enable you to strengthen your grammar and communication skills.
Focus on practical skills while emphasizing conversation and vocabulary building.
Syllabus for Beginning Wolof (PDF)—English translation
Focus on intermediate language skills including conversation, reading, and vocabulary development.
(Syllabus tailored to individual needs)
Focus on more advanced conversation, reading, and vocabulary.
(Syllabus tailored to individual needs)
Focus on advanced practical skills while emphasizing conversation and vocabulary building. This course covers linguistic skill development equivalent to 5th semester French
Syllabus for Advanced French I (PDF)—French translation
Focus on advanced practical skills while emphasizing conversation and vocabulary building. This course covers linguistic skill development equivalent to 6th semester French.
Syllabus for Advanced French II (PDF)—French translation
Focus on advanced practical skills while emphasizing conversation and vocabulary building through discussion of current events.The prerequisite is completion of 6th semester French.
Syllabus for Advanced Language through Current Events (PDF) - French translation
Focus on advanced practical skills while emphasizing reading and writing through the analysis of works by critical Senegalese authors. The prerequisite is completion of 6th semester French.
Syllabus for Reading & Writing through Current Events (PDF)—French translation
Explore a wide variety of perspectives on international development, with the host country as a case study. This course begins with 20 hours of common discussion on international development. The remaining course is divided into sections, and you select from the following sections in order to prepare for your internship or research project. There are also 12 hours dedicated to research protocol for all students.
Research Protocol: Syllabus for Research Protocol (PDF)—English translation
This multi-disciplinary study of the MSID country emphasizes the social sciences and history, especially as they relate to development issues. A complementary language module in the language not taken for credit (see above) allows students to build their language competency in two languages.
Syllabus for MSID Country Analysis (PDF)—English translation
Liberal education requirement fulfilled: Social Science core and Global Perspective theme
An internship or research project with a host-country development agency or project provides an unparalleled opportunity to study community characteristics, development strategies and problems, organizational structure and culture and cross-cultural communication issues. The length of the internship or research project is 6 weeks during the first semester. You typically spend approximately 25 to 30 hours each week at your internship or research site, although this may vary depending on the specific site and project. A list of sample past internships and research projects is available.
Written assignments help link experiences to theories and issues raised in the classroom. A program faculty member or the on-site director visits you at least once at your internship or research site during the internship/research period. At the end of each semester, you gather in the host city or a retreat site for a seminar, which helps integrate your experiences and newly acquired knowledge. Twelve contact hours of this course are incorporated into the classroom phase and provide specific training on research methodology to prepare students for their research or internship project.
Syllabus for Community Engagement in the Global South (PDF)—English translation
Liberal education requirement fulfilled: Social Science core and Civic Life and Ethics theme
This course is offered at no additional cost on programs six weeks or longer. The Learning Abroad Center will email out registration instructions, or you may contact a program team member.
As an MSID student, you have the choice to do either a research project or an internship for six weeks as part of the Community Engagement course. In either option, you will be placed with a local NGO related to the track you have chosen for the International Development course (Arts & Cultural Studies, Education & Literacy, Entrepreneurship & Alternative Economies, Public Health, Sustainability & the Environment, or Social Service). All academic year students engage in a research project during spring semester.
A research project involves a systematic investigation of a specific topic, question, hypothesis, or theory. Research is conducted under the guidance of a project supervisor at the MSID program and at a local NGO. The project culminates in a final paper or project that demonstrates the knowledge gained through the investigation.
The examples below illustrate the differences between the internship and research options:
|Track||Internship example||Research example|
Arts & Cultural Studies
Work with a cultural preservation organization with a youth indigenous dance troupe
Examine the cultural and historical significance of a specific type of indigenous dance
Education & Literacy
Assist in teaching English to primary and secondary students at rural schools
Investigate effective methods of teaching English as a second language and examine curricular practices at the local and national level
Entrepreneurship & Alternative Economies
Meet with micro loan applicants and review loan application materials
Analyze the loan repayment rate at a microfinance organization
Provide support to faculty in a pediatrics department of a hospital that works with children who suffer from malnutrition
Survey the hospital’s education and outreach plan to address pediatric malnutrition in the region
Sustainability & the Environment
Participate in an agroforestry project at a sustainability-focused NGO
Compare and contrast local and national research on the environmental impact of agroforestry programs
Provide support to an NGO that does job skill training for low income women
Analyze the wage gap between men and women in various sectors of the local economy
The governments of the United States and MSID countries have laws protecting human subjects of research. Due to the timeline for gaining the necessary permissions for doing research with human subjects, such research cannot be conducted while abroad on LAC program. However, there are still a wide variety of projects, that include interaction with people, that are available. See more information on options for Undergraduate Research Abroad.
The Learning Abroad Center offers a number of programs(including all MSID programs) that include research opportunities and are eligible for the Learning Abroad Center’s International UROP scholarship of $2,500 (available to UofM students only).
Students are required to select a track as part of the International Development course, which will focus your studies and help prepare you for your internship or research project.
Develop a critical understanding of culture through an analysis of the literature, art, film and music. Discussion focuses on the perspectives, values and lives of people and their relationship to development as revealed through different cultural and literary venues.
Analyze the educational system, government policy and impact on local educational structures, the disparities in access to education, and the relationship between education and development. Discussions may include gender education, financial challenges, and current reforms.
Examine the history, nature and challenges of microbusiness and its role in the economic and social development of the local community. Includes an analysis of informal sector enterprises, the role of social entrepreneurship, and an overview of key aspects of microfinance.
Examine health care systems, the management and prevention of disease, and the philosophical approaches to health care, including the role of traditional medicine. Specific topics for discussion include women’s health, children’s health, HIV education, and rural vs. urban health care facilities. In Senegal, this track may be merged with Social Service.
Understand how government policies and local grassroots efforts serve the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, including the homeless, women, children, indigenous groups, the disabled and the elderly. Topics include the configuration of social services, resource allocation, community development, and welfare reform. In Senegal, this track may be merged with Public Health.
Investigate the relationship between environmental and natural resource challenges and the local community. Critical issues being faced may include sustainable food and water sources, natural resource utilization and management, climate change, wildlife management and sustainable development.
|Program Term||App Open Date||Deadline*|
|Fall 2020||Dec 1||May 15|
|Pre-session+Fall students depart from the US||Aug 1|
|Pre-session+Fall students arrive in Dakar||Aug 2|
|Pre-session last day||Aug 26|
|Fall students depart from the US||Aug 29|
|Fall students arrive in Dakar||Aug 30|
|Classroom phase ends||Oct 23|
|Fall break period||Oct 24 – 30|
|Internship phase||Nov 2 – Dec 11|
|Final seminar week||Dec 14 – 18|
|Depart from Dakar||Dec 19|
|Spring 2021||May 1||Oct 15|
|Pre-session+Spring students depart from the US||Dec 26|
|Pre-session+Spring students arrive in Dakar||Dec 27|
|Pre-session last day||Jan 15|
|Spring students depart from the US||Jan 16|
|Spring students arrive in Dakar||Jan 17|
|Classroom phase ends||Jan 21|
|Spring break period||Mar 13 – 19|
|Internship phase||Mar 22 – Apr 30|
|Final seminar week||May 3 – 7|
|Depart from Dakar||May 8|
Information about a group flight scheduled through Village Travel will be sent out after the application deadline. While students are not required to book through Village Travel they are required to arrive on the coordinated flight arriving into Dakar. If you would like to request a deviation from the coordinated flight, you must get prior approval from the Learning Abroad Center. Early arrivals are not allowed.
See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.
|Fall 2020||Thursday, June 4, 2020, 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.||online|
Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.
To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:
|Center Name||TC Learning Abroad Ctr|
|Education Abroad Term||See Program Dates for track options|
|Program Name||MSID Senegal|
|Track Name||See Program Dates for track options|
After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:
Additional Items Required for non-UofM Students:
If you do not meet the GPA requirement for this program you will be required to submit two additional application items—the Low GPA Essay and Special Circumstances Recommendation. Both items will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when they have been added.
Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.
After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned an acceptance checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.
You will need a passport to enter Senegal. Your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your program. If you have not already obtained your passport, apply for one immediately. Information about applying for a passport can be found on the US Department of State's website.
All US or non-US citizens studying in Senegal for the semester or academic year must obtain a student visa. You should begin the application process 60 days prior to the official program arrival date and your application should be submitted no later than 45 days in advance of the official program arrival date.
You are required to obtain a student visa through Perry International, a passport and visa processing company based in Chicago. The visa processing fee charged by Perry International is included in the MSID program fee. You pay Perry International the cost of the actual visa plus shipping costs and any additional fees. Instructions and application material can be found on Perry International's website. Enter 'MSID' for the program name when selecting your visa country and type on Perry's website, and view the "MSID additional information" page for specific instructions for MSID students.
The Learning Abroad Center will send the required letter of acceptance directly to Perry International. Any photos required by Perry International are in addition to those you may have already submitted to the Learning Abroad Center.
If you have any questions about the visa process, contact Ty Collins, Thomas Heimdal, or Tom Collins either by email or by phone at 312.372.2703.
Check the visa in your passport when you receive it, particularly if it lists the dates of your stay abroad. Embassies have occasionally been known to make errors when entering in duration dates. Contact Perry International if you think that there may been an error in your visa.
For further information or questions about this program, send an email toAshley Metz or call at 612.626.6380.