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Semester Programs: Ghana

Find yourself standing in a crowd full of surprising contrasts: a young woman wearing traditional clothing is text-messaging a friend while a suited businessman can be seen carrying a traditional offering to a tribal chief. This is Ghana, where the country's diverse peoples and cultures are finding ways to coexist in a rapidly modernizing country.

Studying in Accra, Ghana for a semester will introduce you to this country with opportunities to learn a local language, learn some African drumming techniques and much more. You'll spend part of your time in classroom, but much of your learning will happen visiting the main geographical and cultural regions of the country. And don't forget the beach—the city of Accra lies along the Atlantic coast.

This video is from the 2012 Fall Semester:

Wope Laif--You Like Life from Caitlin Saupe .


You must have achieved sophomore status with a grade point average of at least 2.5. to study in Ghana. Preference is given to juniors and seniors when there are more applicants than spots in the program.


This program occurs during interim and Spring Semester. The 2016 program cost for interim and the spring semester is expected to be within $3000 of Calvin tuition and room and board on campus. More specific cost information will be sent with your acceptance letter. The final program cost is based on many factors and is not known exactly until the number of students in the group has been identified. The financial information page covers the details that go into the cost of the program and rough estimates for each. The cost includes:

  • Tuition
  • Roundtrip air transportation Grand Rapids/Accra
  • Full room and board
  • Administrative fee
  • Program-related excursions

Additional expenses not included in the program fee: passport, visa, medical insurance and immunizations (required), books and spending money.


international dorm at University of GhanaYou will live on the campus of University of Ghana at Legon (about 7 miles north of the center of Accra) in an international dormitory. You can stay with a Calvin roommate, but you may also choose to live with an international or Ghanaian roommate.


The following interim course must be taken during January:

STGH 211 Christianity in West Africa: A Ghanaian Perspective

This multidisciplinary interim class will be taught in partnership with Akrofi Christaller Institute located in Akropong, Ghana. The course will expose students to the richness of Ghanaian history, culture (ancient kingdoms, early independence, vibrant ethnic tapestry), and, in particular, religion. A majority of Ghanaians profess to be Christians, but Christianity is expressed differently depending on whether it is mainline, charismatic or traditional. Additionally, Ghana remains one of the poorest countries in Africa. How have faith-based organizations responded to the reality of poverty amidst vibrant faith traditions? During this interim, students will travel to the Cape Coast, Kumasi and Tamale in order to experience first-hand Ghanaian history, culture, and faith-based experiences. Evaluation will be based on participation in the program, journals, and papers.

3 semester hours, fulfills one interim requirement


During February to May, students will take 4-5 courses. All will take the following 2 courses with the Calvin Director:

STGH 2XX: The Politics of Contemporary Africa: Through the Country Lens of Ghana

Africa is often portrayed in the United States as a contingent of crisis rooted in tribalism, political violence, and economic mismanagement. This course goes beyond these images and stereotypes to place the peoples and states of Africa within the shared history of the modern world

At the end of this course, students will have:

  1. Grasped the influence of Africa’s pre-colonial and colonial past on contemporary African politics.
  2. Developed an understanding of the social, economic and political challenges facing African countries.
  3. Developed an understanding of Ghana’s political strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Written journals/papers exploring issues in depth within African politics.


3 semester hours, fulfills Global/Historical Studies core

Can fulfill International Development Studies and African and African Diaspora Studies requirements.

STGH 310: Ghana Semester Practicum: NGOs and Development

This course will explore the cultural dynamics of Ghana and its development organizations via the Ghana Semester program’s service-learning experience.

At the end of this course, students will have:

  1. Engaged in direct service for about 10 full-time days at a Ghanaian organization.
  2. Learned some of the basic history and terminology connected to the areas of civil society and NGOs.
  3. Engaged in a preliminary analysis of the structure and function of a Ghanaian organization in the context of Ghanaian society.
  4.  Developed a preliminary assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of this organization based in part on a Christian vision and Christian values.
  5. Written and presented to the class a report of this Ghanaian organization.
3 semester hours, fulfills Cross-Cultural Engagement (CCE) and Global Historical Studies core


All students will take the following course at the University of Ghana:

UGRC 220: Introduction to African Studies

This course introduces students to the field of African Studies including Africa’s history, peoples and cultures. It begins with a three week introduction to the discipline, its history and values. The next two weeks continue with an introduction to Gender Studies in Africa, and thereafter students select from an extensive and diverse menu of ‘electives’. The elective portion of the course will last 6 weeks and include: Appropriate Technology for Development in Africa, African Art, Its Philosophy and Criticism, Africa in the Contemporary World, Africa and the Diaspora, African Popular Culture – Traditional Festivals and Funeral Ceremonies, African Dance, African Drama, African Music, Chieftancy and Development, Culture and Development, Gender and Culture in Africa, Gender and Development, Issues in Africa’s Population, Our African Heritage through Literature, Philosophy in African Cultures, Dagbani, Ewe, Ga, Asante-Twi.

3 semester hours, Global/ Historical studies core

Students will also choose one or two direct enroll elective courses, taught by instructors at the University of Ghana at Legon (3-6 semester hours) Some of the available courses can be found on this page.

All courses may be applied to the Africa track of the African and African diaspora studies minor. Some courses may be used to fulfill elective requirements for the international development studies (IDS) major and minor. The program qualifies to satisfy the study-abroad requirement for the IDS major and minor.


To apply for the program, please follow the directions to apply through our Horizons online system at this link.


Program Director, Spring 2016:
Spring 2016 - Tracy Kuperus, International Development Studies

Past and Future Program Directors
Fall 2009 - Beryl Hugen, Social Work, Emeritus
Fall 2010 - David Hoekema, Philosophy
Fall 2011 - Stephanie Sandberg, CAS
Fall 2012 - Roland Hoksbergen, Economics
Fall 2013 - Stephanie Sandberg, CAS
Fall 2014 - David Hoekema, Philosophy
Spring 2016 - Tracy Kuperus, International Development Studies
Spring 2017 - Stephanie Sandberg, CAS
Spring 2018 - Joseph Kuilema, Social Work




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Location: In southeast Ghana in western Africa; on the Atlantic Ocean

History: Founded in the 1600s by the Ga people and called Accra because of the many ant-hills (ants="nkran") in the area. Became the capital of the British Gold Coast in 1877 and then capital of Ghana after Ghana established independence from Great Britain in 1957.

Population: 1.6 million

Languages: English, Twi (che-wee), Ga and Hausa

Climate:Tropical, with temperatures averaging between 82 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and moderate (2.5 inches/mo.) rainfall in September and October.

University of Ghana

The university was founded as an affiliate school of the University of London in 1948 and gained full university status in 1961. It now has nearly 24,000 students and is located about 7 miles north of the center of Accra. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was appointed the University of Ghana's chancellor in July, 2008.


Visit Adenkrebi, Grand Rapid's sister city, near the city of Akropong, and travel to the northern region of Ghana to study the influence of Islam on Ghanaian culture. You will also go to the Volta region to observe tourism and development projects focused on environmental issues.

Read more about Ghana semester at the 2006 program Weblog.