Study African Arts and Culture in Ghana

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Please note: this page will be continually updated with the latest information about this program.

General information

This 9 credit summer program, entitled "West African Music, Dance, Society, and Culture", comprises social science, humanities, and performing arts components, and is formally equivalent to three semester-long University of Alberta courses, available at undergraduate and graduate levels:

  • West African Music Ensemble (Music 144/244, 544). A practicum developing basic skills required for performance and understanding of traditional Ghanaian music, song, and dance, including music of the Ga, Asanti, and other groups, but with a special focus upon Ewe music traditions of the Volta Region. Includes study on the University of Ghana campus, and in a traditional Ewe village. Note: if you require non-junior credit you can substitute 244 for 144.
  • Introduction to Ethnomusicology: The ethnomusicology of Ghanaian music and dance (Music 365, 565) Scholarly study of traditional and popular performance of Ghana, treating the form and meaning of traditional music and dance in cultural contexts, linking music and social identity, and reading Ghanaian culture, politics, history, and religion through music. The music, culture, society, and history of the Ewes will be included, so as to harmonize with the other two courses. The course culminates with the practical experience of doing ethnomusicology in Dagbamete.
  • West African culture, language, and society (Middle Eastern and African Studies 300, 500). This course comprises a multidisciplinary investigation of West African culture (possibly including study of literature, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, history, political science, religious studies, or other disciplines), plus a practical introduction to the Ewe language, in conversation and through its oral literary tradition.

For a multimedia introduction to this program, please download this descriptive powerpoint presentation (along with this audio file)


Our 2008 group carried out original field research in a Ghanaian village. Read the results of our study here: Ghana 2008 research project: Music and change in Dagbamete


Browse photos from previous programs here:

Experiencing Ghana, summer 2007

Experiencing Ghana, summer 2008


To communicate with past or prospective participants, join our Facebook group

2009 program and application procedures

While program details for 2009 have not yet been established, a few changes are expected: the program is projected to start on July 3, for about 32 days, including roughly 3 days of orientation, 10 days of lectures, 9 days of travel throughout Ghana, and 10 days' residence in a small Ewe-speaking Ghanaian village (Dagbamete), located in Ghana's Volta Region, for field study and musical/linguistic/cultural immersion. Music and dance performance is central, but no musical experience or talent is required to succeed. There are no prerequisites for any of the three courses. In past years, Optional long-weekend field trips provided additional musical-cultural perspectives; this year we'll try to roll these trips into a single contiguous week of travel.

The program will be shorter in 2009, but will provide the same number of credits. You are welcome to plan your trip as you like, arriving before the program begins, or remaining in Ghana afterward, in order to extend your stay. Certain costs will be lower this year, for instance due to the shorter stay on campus. The final budget has not yet been completed.

Another new development: For the first time, the program is now available for graduate credit: Music 544 (West African Music Ensemble), Music 565 (Area Studies in Ethnomusicology), MEAS 500 (Topic in Middle Eastern and African Studies). The latter two courses emphasize advanced, critical reading, independent field research, and ethnomusicological analysis and writing. Students pursuing an MA in ethnomusicology could use these courses to develop a corpus of research and knowledge sufficient for the preparation of an MA thesis, or simply to develop a secondary area of ethnomusicological expertise.

Click here for tentative 2009 schedule


For more information, please contact Caroline Lawson in the Education Abroad office, HUB (contacts below). Non-University of Alberta students are responsible for ensuring that credit transfers to their home institution and program, and must enroll in University of Alberta open studies prior to enrollment in the program.

Ghana program costs in 2009


Scholarships are available!

Fifteen $1000 scholarship awards are available to early applicants from Canada. Ready to apply? Complete the application.

$2500 scholarships should be available for International students (including all students from the USA).


Application deadlines:

  • Award application: March 2nd, 2009
  • General application: TBA

2007, 2008 programs

Those considering attending in 2009 might like to examine the detailed 2008 program, including course hours and schedule.

Ghana program costs in 2008 (note that 2009 costs may differ)

Need more information?

Regarding application procedures please contact Caroline Lawson, Study Abroad Student Advisor, University of Alberta International, Education Abroad Program, 8920 HUB Mall, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2E1 Tel: 780 492 6215 Fax: 780 492 6213 www.international.ualberta.ca

You may also contact Professor Michael Frishkopf for further information about the program itself.


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