The University of Oregon’s Journalism and Communication in Ghana program, directed by Prof. Leslie Steeves with on-site assistance from the University of Ghana School of Communication Studies and Dr. Michael Williams of the Aya Centre, can accommodate up to 15 students each summer. The program is six weeks long, usually spanning the last week in June through July. Students take two four-credit courses: Media in Ghana and Journalism Internship. Internships are for five weeks, full-time. Weekend sightseeing fieldtrips to Cape Coast (location of historic castles used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade) and Kumasi (center of the Ashanti Kingdom) are also included.
Over the past two decades, Ghana has been an increasingly popular destination for both study abroad and tourism. Ghana’s relative political stability, emerging economy, growing media presence, faculty resources at the University of Ghana’s School of Communication Studies (SCS), and widespread use of English as the national language makes it an excellent study abroad site for U.S. journalism students. Ghana’s historic role in the slave trade and its prominence in African-American efforts to rebuild links to Africa also add interest.
The program is modeled after one initiated in 1999 by Professor Adrienne Rivers, then at the University of Kansas. In 2001 the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) began contributing students to KU’s Summer Media Institute in Ghana. Two UO students participated in 2001 and six in 2002. In 2004 the University of Oregon began its own program. This is the first UO study abroad program specifically for Journalism students. Since 2004, approximately 130 SOJC students have participated.
The program offers two courses of four term-credits each: J467/567, Media in Ghana (fulfills a breadth requirement), and J404, Journalism Internship (fulfills elective credit). The two courses are integrated, as preparation for the internship experience requires learning about Ghana and its larger media context. The Media in Ghana course requires assignments that may be done in conjunction with the internship.
Media in Ghana begins in the spring term preceding travel to Ghana with weekly meetings, readings and oral reports. Reading topics cover the political-economic and cultural history of Ghana, images of Africa in U.S. media, the impact of colonial and post-colonial influence on African media, and Ghana’s media history, from indigenous forms to the Internet and the changing balance between state- and privately-owned media. Students also go on-line to experience Ghanaian media first-hand. During their first week in the country, the students attend lectures by University of Ghana, School of Communication Studies (SCS) faculty. Assignments due at the end of the program include a daily media log and a research paper.
Student internships are five weeks and full time, following orientation week. Internships usually are matched with students according to their major: journalism, magazine, electronic media, advertising public relations, or Communication Studies. Prior internship placements have included the following:
Internship placements include: newspapers, television, radio, magazines, advertising and public relations agencies, and non-profit organizations with communication and marketing needs.