COMMUNITY AS CLASSROOM:
Urban Studies and Service Learning in Cape Coast, Ghana
UVA Study Abroad, Summer 2013 // 6 credits
The intention of the University of Virginia’s Community as Classroom Study Abroad Program in Ghana is to immerse students in the West African context while providing a unique opportunity to participate in the economic development of the community of Cape Coast through urban-based interventions. In 2013 students will address three issues ranging from the use of water to improve quality of life for a minority settlement to revising portions of the Cape Coast municipal plan.
Rather than using a top-down strategy, the program will emphasize a human-centered approach. Students will learn how to work directly with local experts and stakeholders to understand their needs, recognize particular challenges, and identify short-term (small-scale design build) and long-term potential solutions. All solutions will be contextualized within a larger cultural, economic, and ecological framework and be accepted by community residents. Acceptance will be garnered through a series of stakeholder workshops and charettes where residents will, in effect, be planning and designed along with students.
The program buildings upon a sixteen-year relationship the University of Virginia has with the community and leaders of Cape Coast.