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Study Abroad Programs at City College

CCNY Winter ISL Program Senegal

yoff  senegal-yoff


January 4-24, 2014 (Tentative)



Program Description

CCNY and SNN’s three-week program will engage students in working with villagers to reapply appropriate aspects of traditional culture in the goal of defining and enhancing sustainable development in Africa, where ancient heritage and community values are still intact to a degree rarely found elsewhere.  The 2014 course focuses on the possibility of restoring either original or adapted versions of practices that previously protected the environment and its people. Accordingly it will share with the urban ecovillage - or transition town - movement a serious focus on re-greening the seven traditional fishing neighborhoods of Yoff.

The three-week course will engage students in understanding an ancient cultural heritage of ecologically protective beliefs and practices, in which both men and women leaders have played key roles in resolving community conflict, and in protecting mental, social and ecological health of the Lebou people, since the founding of the 600 year old fishing village of Yoff, now part of the city of Dakar. Understanding will be expressed in service learning to enhance the ways in which this wisdom tradition continues to support sustainable community development.

The program takes place in Yoff itself, where students live in homestay families and study with English speaking Senegalese student partners. It will include academic theory courses and facilitation provided by CCNY, SNN faculty, Universite Cheikh Anta Diop faculty, staff and guardians of Yoff’s ancient traditions.  Equal numbers of American and Senegalese students will form cross-cultural service learning project teams in small groups with villagers and mentors, working with the aspects of past tradition and current practices that correspond to their personal interests.  During the second week, each student village team will carry out a small project, which may be a simulated trial of a change in social norms. The projects are based on the findings of the qualitative research of the community conducted by the  previous group in January 2013.
In view of the importance of trees and other plants, both to indigenous culture and to reversing climate change our main service learning activity will be tree planting, permaculture home gardens and plants providing green ground cover. We will follow the successful guidelines of the Global Cooling Project, which is very active in Foundioune, a town in the Sin Saloum region to the southeast of Dakar. Yoff regularly seeks to learn and apply the latest reforestation strategies, and we expect most students to work with them in this global initiative. 

Other projects may include a return to eating more foods made from home grown Senegalese millet, instead of imported Asian rice or American wheat; visits to the national archives or to IFAN to document earlier cultural practices; work with local musicians to revive and adapt beautiful abandoned traditional work songs to current popular styles; or to test a neighborhood agreement to return to communal safeguarding and correcting the behavior of the community’s children, 

The 3rd week will be devoted to group reporting of the conclusions of participating decision-makers, assisted by students, as appropriate, in writing up their conclusions or expressing their recommendations in PowerPoint presentations. This course will be co-sponsored by Senegal’s Ministry of Culture. Instruction is in English, with French and Wolof translations provided by Senegalese students and faculty during service learning.

The course follows the UNESCO four dimensional framework for Education in Sustainable Development (ESD), as reflected in: Culture, Ecology, Economy and Society.
1.    Traditional culture embodies important aspects of the social, economic and ecological dimensions of sustainability, since its beliefs and values guide human activities in these dimensions. African culture as a rule is a compassionate culture dedicated to maintaining equitable resource distribution through well-defined extended family roles and values reminiscent of Confucianism, assuring peace and conflict resolution, and providing for nature and humans together in an interconnected web of in life.
2.    Traditional Society has a long history designing well-functioning committee structures and work groups that manage a full range of social and economic functions with grace and in a celebratory style.
3.    Traditional Ecological practices accord to nature, in the form of trees, other plants, animals, other life forms and geographic formations the same respect accorded to human beings. This respect, present in almost all indigenous belief systems, successfully protected the earth and its ecosystems up until the industrial era.
4.    Traditional Economics operates through reciprocity and redistribution systems that still guarantee the food security of Yoff’s growing population’s, threatened as it is by global consumer values.

Important Dates (mandatory meetings):

- Interview with Study Abroad: TBA
- Pre-Departure Orientation: TBA

- Deadline for payment of Program costs: TBA
- Deadline for all Application Materials: TBA


  • CUNY Tuition for 4 credits
  • Program Fee: $1769
  • Airfare not included