Africa, Multi-country: Social Policy in Africa
The Social Policy in Africa program enables you to better understand the status of Africa in the global arena. The countries selected provide historic, cultural, religious and present day information to help program participants better assess the structure and position of government, how social and economic policies and programs are formulated and implemented, and how these policies and programs impact the health, welfare, and rights of the poor and vulnerable. The emphasis of the program is on research, publication, and advocacy. Rural areas provide the case studies for research, publication, and advocacy. The Summer 2019 program is expected to travel to Ghana, Togo, and Benin. Locations visited in the past included South Africa and Swaziland.
This program counts as a 1-credit course, in partial fulfillment of an MSW Advanced Policy requirement. This course will be graded using the A-E scale.
The Social Policy in Africa course, and associated summer program, offers ‘hands on’ opportunities for you to learn how culture and history shapes policy and social service provision. It also presents the opportunity to think about your position as an American in an African context. You have the chance to examine up close and personal how your citizenship affects how you think about a range of topics both in a personal and professional setting. Visits to villages, cultural markets, and meetings with local state and federal officials are used to provide you with experiential learning. In addition, visits to public and private agencies enable you to examine delivery of services, as well as exchange and share ideas with community based practitioners.
Past on-site experiences have included: A virtual or actual focus group meeting – which enables the participants and their African colleagues to examine issues such as community building, poverty, education, health, women in development, globalization, and debt relief. Where possible, focus group meetings are televised to the United States.
Collaborative Partnerships with African individuals, groups, and organizations are encouraged. These partnerships are sustained via email, social media, and personal visits. They often result in joint opportunities for research, publication, and advocacy.
*Program is subject to minimum enrollment.
• Describing both (1) the evolution of democracy in Ghana, Togo, and Benin and (2) the relevance of political histories on polices that undergird social service provision in the respective countries.
• Demonstrating an understanding of the role of history in current policies that govern social service provision in the areas of HIV disease, gender rights and child welfare in the identified countries.
• Articulating the dimensions of policies that govern the provision of HIV disease, gender rights and child welfare policies for each country.
• Demonstrating an understanding of the challenges of full policy implementation in the three identified areas specific to the countries studied.
• Describing the policy making process related to HIV disease, gender rights and child welfare and opportunities for social workers to apply professional values and ethics influencing the process.
• Assessing the role of research and economics in informing policy debates and analyzing program effectiveness.
• Articulating an understanding of the structural inequalities and identify policies that potentially result in health disparities in the identified countries.
• Conducting a policy analysis of a relevant topic in the areas of social welfare policy related to the issues of gender rights, child welfare and/or HIV disease.
• Demonstrating competencies in completing a policy brief.
• Describing the role of marginalization, oppression, social justice and social change in the context of policy analysis.
• Demonstrating cultural humility and competency in the analysis of social policy in the context of the NASW Code of Ethics.
The 2019 syllabus is forthcoming.
If you are an MSW student, to fulfill an MSW Advanced Policy requirement, you must register for both the 2-credit spring course AND the 1-credit study abroad summer course.
The spring course is conducted on the UAlbany campus. Regular registration processes apply. The summer course is an education abroad course taught on-site in Africa. There will be some preliminary meetings to help craft a cohesive group and thoughtful consideration prior to our summer travel.
The spring and summer courses examine the policies that govern social service provision in HIV disease, gender rights, and child welfare in various African nations. This analysis is conducted in culturally relevant and congruent ways recognizing the histories of the various countries, their current cultural and political contexts, and the various demographics of the country(ies). A byproduct of these analyses is exposure to the role, function, and purpose of social welfare service providers in the countries of focus. An additional product is an analysis of structural inequalities of health related to the countries being studied. By the end of the course, you will have advanced policy analysis skills in the service of African policy dynamics and service provision. For those students who have other academic and professional interests, the professor is open to helping shape a program which is vital to your learning objectives.
General Education Information for UAlbany Students
Credits earned on this program will automatically satisfy the International Perspectives requirement. No additional approval is required for you to earn these general elective credits.
Major/Minor Information for UAlbany Students
Courses may also satisfy major and minor requirements, upon approval by the department.
All courses taken abroad count towards UAlbany General Elective credits. Credits and grades will appear on your UAlbany transcript. You may file a request to have additional courses approved for equivalency as necessary.
This course is taught by Professor Robert Miller. Dr. Miller teaches social work practice courses, Cultural Diversity in Social Work, Spirituality and Social Work; as well as the African Policy and Social Work in the MSW program. He is also the Director of The U.S. Africa Partnership to Build Stronger Communities. Dr. Miller’s work also includes consultancies with state and federal agencies in the areas of mental health, spirituality, and HIV disease. Most recently, he participated in the White House Office on National AIDS Policy Summit. Dr. Miller has held visiting professor appointments at Addis Ababa University and Barhir Dar University (Ethiopia) and in the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Franscisco Medial School.
You will be housed in shared, economy-style hotels in each city.
Some group meals are included as part of the program.
Estimate of Costs
For reference, review the Summer 2019 Estimate of Costs.
Click for more information on Program Costs and Financial Aid.
Remember to speak with the Office of Financial Aid at your home campus to determine how your aid package could apply towards your program abroad.
Graduate students, and exceptional undergraduate students, in disciplines related to Social Policy, Public Health, Africana Studies, Economics, International Education, Business, and Criminal Justice, among other disciplines are eligible to apply.
To fulfill an MSW Advanced Policy requirement, you must register for both the 2 credit spring course AND the 1 credit summer course abroad. Please note, if you plan to graduate following the Social Policy in Africa course, you will need to wait until the conclusion of summer to graduate, as all three credits are required to fulfill an advanced policy requirement for the MSW degree.
Experiential learning plays a critical role in your program experience. Both the overall program and individual courses include a number of cultural and historical excursions* to important and influential sites, so you will have the opportunity to experience several countries and cultures of Africa to its fullest.
Past Excursions and Activities
• Visits to the Apartheid Museum and the Hector Pieterson Museum
• Excursion to Voortrekker Mounument and Freedom Park
• Stone Town and Spice Tours
• Visit to the Zanzibar Aids Control Program
• And more!
*Excursions are a mandatory part of the program and specific destinations vary by program and availability.
**Schedule is tentative and subject to change
External scholarships, listed on our website, are a good way to partially fund your study abroad experience. In addition, the Center for International Education and Global Strategy offers two scholarship programs for UAlbany students studying abroad on UAlbany or 4-year SUNY programs.
More information on applying to these scholarships is located on the Scholarships web page.
A limited number of scholarships are available for this program. Please contact Dr. Miller for more details and a scholarship application.
In Their Own Words
“When we, as students, go out into the working world, most of us will not be dealing with people in a laboratory-like vacuum. We will not be dealing with people having control over their situation. We will not be dealing with objects of study, but real people. There is very little room for error, which is why such experiences as our tour of Africa prepare us for such real life situations.”
“If, as a social worker, I want to empower people to, as Gandhi phrases it, ‘be the change [they] wish to see in the world,’ I must step away from my biases and ask what they see in the world,” said Lacey Cukier. “My out-of-class experience did not start and end with Africa. Our field placements are other important components to real life experience. Not all students must go as far as Africa to realize this truth.
“My field placement was a place where I could choose to carry my biases or not,” she added. “I was still the person in control of my environment, in my own office, in my own country. In this way, it was simply dipping my toes in the ocean while reading a book about how to swim. My trip to Africa was more about diving in, head first, to learn how to see the bigger picture.”
“As people and as students we are all different and we learn differently. These sort of out-of-class experiences cater to the needs of all kinds of learners. The combination of visual, auditory and kinesthetic stimuli with the push for critical thinking skills makes us scholar change agents instead of merely workers! We are indeed very grateful to the School of Social Welfare, Dr. Miller, and the US-Africa Partnership Summer Study Tour Fundraising Committee in Rhinebeck and all of the donors that made this possible for us.”
About the City
Locations for this program vary each year. The Summer 2019 program is expected to travel to Ghana, Togo, and Benin.
A valid passport is required to participate in this program. Depending upon your country of citizenship, visas for each country may also be required. More information regarding the visa application process is available upon acceptance to the program.
Applications become available online one semester before the program start date, based on the following timeline:
- Summer programs: December
07/21/2019 to 08/06/2019
Please refer to the Summer 2019 Program Schedule.
*Schedule is tentative and subject to change
More information regarding flights is available upon acceptance.
Upon acceptance to the program, you will be required to attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation. During this time, you will have the opportunity to meet other program participants, discuss in-depth the details of your program, and prepare of the overall education abroad experience. The summer pre-departure orientation is typically conducted the Saturday before the end of Spring UAlbany classes.
You will also have an on-site orientation upon arrival to your host country.
Your Faculty Leader is responsible for guiding all aspects of the program and will be available throughout the on-site portion of the course to manage any concerns or questions you may have while abroad. The Faculty Leader will accompany you on all program activities and outings.
UAlbany’s Office of Education Abroad staff assists you during the application process, in your preparation to travel abroad, and on-site if necessary.