Study African Arts and Culture in Ghana

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

Happy Ghana Independence Day! (March 6th) [1][2]

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)

Here's a map on which you can find Accra, Cape Coast, Kumasi, and Keta (not far from our village, Dagbamete); Ho is the capital of the Volta Region. Kokrobite is around 80 kilos west of Accra. Elmina and Kakum are short drives from Cape Coast.

We'll be studying primarily in Legon (a suburb of Accra, where the University of Ghana is located) and Dagbamete, and will visit other places on optional fieldtrips.

Here's a testimonial from a 2008 summer student enrolled in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Nursing.

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

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

2009 program and application procedures

Please note that the dates previously posted here were erroneous due to an excel bug - please note correct dates below!

Following your arrival in Ghana by Thursday July 2, the 2009 program will commence on Friday July 3, lasting a total of 32 days until its conclusion on August 4, including 3 days of orientation (July 3-5), 10 days of lectures (July 6-15), 9 days of travel throughout Ghana (July 16-24), 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 (July 25-Aug 3).

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 study abroad 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.

Because the Ghana portion of program is shorter, I will assign some readings for you to complete before your arrival in Ghana. Feel free to do these assignments at any time before the program commences.

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 2009 schedule

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 $1,000 scholarship awards are available to early applicants from Canada, with priority to UofA students. Ready to apply? Complete the application. (Note: the application says these grants are only for UofA students, but in fact you can obtain a scholarship even if you're not a UofA student. It's just that UofA students have priority.)

$2,250 scholarships are available for International students (including students from the USA).

Application deadlines:

  • Scholarship application: March 16th, 2009
  • General application: March 16th, 2009

2007, 2008 programs

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

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

Ghana program costs in 2008

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

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

Sending this page's URL to someone else non-electronically (e.g. over the phone)? You can also use the following short form: