Understanding Development Partnerships Freetown, Sierra Leone

Aerial of buildings in Freetown Sierra Leone near a coast line on a cloudy day.


Full Title- Sierra Leone: Understanding development partnerships from the United Nations (UN) to International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) to NGOs to Community Based Organizations

Sierra Leone is one of the world's poorest countries, still recovering from a decade long civil war and more recently from an outbreak of Ebola. Students will travel to Sierra Leone for two weeks to investigate how actors across levels - from the UN to International NGOs to Local NGOs to Community Based Organizations -- partner to achieve shared development goals.

Program Dates

Mid/Late-June & Early August- Pre & post program meetings in Washington, D.C.

Travel to Sierra Leone- July 7-22, 2018*

*Dates are subject to change

Program Fees and Deposit

Application Fee: All students are required to submit a non-refundable $50 application fee at the time of completing their online application.

Deposit: All students accepted to the program must confirm their spot by paying a non-refundable $300 deposit, to be applied towards tuition for the program.

Program Fee: $1,000.The program fee covers in-country transportation, most meals, housing and excursions. 

All students are responsible for 3 credits AU tuition, international airfare and immunizations. 


In this 3-credit graduate level course students discuss the inherent difficulties created by the obvious power differentials between the levels and explore practical methods for bridging that gap and promoting local voices in agenda setting as well as the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of projects.

The program will start with lectures from local scholars on history and context and move on to meetings with development practitioners at multiple levels. A key partner will be the Sierra Leone Association of NGOs -- the umbrella group for all NGOs in Sierra Leone -- and a final product for the class will be a report on partnership guidelines that will contribute to a new national NGO policy. Conditions on the ground may be challenging (there are frequent power blackouts, for example), but students will gain first-hand experience of some of the difficulties of working in resource-poor environments.

The program will mainly be based in Freetown, the nation's capital, but we students will travel outside the capital for a few days to meet with provincial partners. This is a vitally important issue, as the recent Ebola outbreak demonstrated. Many of the problems with the Ebola response were due to gaps between international institutions like the WHO and UNMEER and grassroots organizations best placed to leverage the community trust often excluded from the official response.

Internship Opportunity

For students who wish to stay on beyond the two-week program, local internships can be arranged through the Faculty Director.

Faculty Director

Application Deadlines

Summer 2018: Priority application deadline is 11:59 PM EST February 22, 2018. If more space is available, applications will move to a rolling basis after this deadline until early March.

You will be notified by email with a decision regarding your nomination for study abroad. At that time, students will be required to submit a non-refundable deposit of $300.

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Suggested Program Match

This seminar is open to all SIS graduate students. It may be of particular interest to students studying International Development, Comparative and Regional Studies, Social Enterprise, International and Intercultural Communication and International Peace and Conflict Resolution.