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Undergraduate Field Course

Since 2013, the UW has conducted a 3-credit field course to Ethiopia entitled “Biodiversity, Health, and Food Security in Ethiopia.” The course is open to undergraduate students. The program introduces students to the multidisciplinary issues that impact nutrition and food security, with special emphasis placed on maternal and child health, traditional foods, and ecosystem health/biodiversity. For information on how to apply, please visit the Ethiopia Field Course page on the UW-International Programs website.

Photo: Members and instructors of the 2013 Ethiopia Field course in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Ethiopia Field Course explores the intersections of agriculture and health in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region of Ethiopia. The region is primarily agricultural and inhabited by many tribes with distinct cultural, linguistic, and spiritual beliefs. Most of the rural communities in southern Ethiopia have cultivated the land for generations, producing crops for subsistence consumption. However, the landscape and communities are changing rapidly, largely due to external factors that impact local economic, environmental, and social/household structures. These changes are often guided by market goals which may conflict with the values of local communities and not be ecologically sustainable. The field course takes these historical, political, cultural, economic, and environmental issues into consideration and explores the question of how we can create food systems that integrate the best practices of industrial agricultural with the local values of communities in order to maximize human and environmental health.

Photo: UW students with members of the Fero Farmers Cooperative, a coffee cooperative located in the Sidama zone of southern Ethiopia.

A key component of the course is community service. We work with our Ethiopia partners when planning the course to identify community service projects that provide students with opportunities to learn in collaboration with community members.

The community service learning sites, Project Mercy and Common River, were carefully selected for their commitment to sustainable community development that is participatory in nature and driven by community needs. These NGOs focus on program areas that align with the Field Course topics: health, education, food systems/nutrition, and development. We believe that service learning not only benefits individual students and community members, but they also provide ways we can deepen our collaboration between the UW and collaborators in Ethiopia.

Examples of past service learning projects:

  • Youth First Aid Course
  • Youth Injury Prevention Workshop Copyright © 2016 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System