A highlight of Rutgers’ involvement with Ghana is the International Service Learning (ISL) Program, which since 2007 gives students the opportunity for immersion into Ghanaian society through internships with women’s organizations in the country. Through this program, students take at least one preparatory course related to Africa before spending 4-6 weeks in Ghana during the summer. The intense independent study seminar introduces interns to the history and culture of Ghana with a focus on women’s concerns in order to give them an understanding of the social, political, and cultural context in which they will work. Organized by Rutgers’ Center for African Studies and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the program involves a number of women’s organizations in Ghana, specifically those that engage women’s grassroots organizations such as the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE), the Women’s Assistance and Business Association (WABA), the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA), and others.
A newly established exchange program between Rutgers and the Abdou Moumouni University in the Republic of Niger, provides an opportunity for students and scholars to develop a better understanding of old and new Diasporic communities in West Africa. Abdou Moumouni University in the Republic of Niger has ties with Ghana going back to the middle age trans-Saharan trade.
Rutgers students also benefit from wide-ranging research on Ghana by faculty and graduate students. Ongoing fields of research include: African literary traditions; history; sociology of education; Diaspora studies; politics; women’s studies; forestry and African medicinal plants and agro-business; corporate social responsibility efforts of international chocolate and cocoa manufacturers; and child labor in West Africa’s cocoa farms. In the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, students and scholars may also participate in international activities in West Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia).
The increasing ties between Rutgers and Ghana resulted in the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages adding a Ghanaian language, Twi, to its curriculum. This new language offering will give students the linguistic tools necessary for field research or to engage in community service in Ghana.