PEACE Program  Academic Overview

Indenpendence Day festival: a Gambian man dancing

Information about the academic aspect of the Service-Learning and Signature Semster in The Gambia

The Gambia


A brief introduction to the geography, climate, language and history of the Gambia

Semester Guide

Gambian woman taking the lead to dance in a crowd of smiling faces

Everything you need and want to know about studying abroad in The Gambia

The Signature Semester in The Gambia

The PEACE program was designated a “Signature Program” in 2006 by SMCM President Margaret Jane O’Brien, in recognition of the program’s unique relationships in The Gambia and its excellence in promoting educational and cultural exchange.

The precise dates for the signature semester vary slightly each year, but generally run from the beginning of the fourth week in August through the middle of December.  In other words, participants spend approximately 16 weeks in Senegambia.

Every signature semester is led by a faculty member who constructs a seminar-style course that all PEACE program participants are required to take.  The four-credit seminar has been reviewed and approved fro credit by St. Mary’s College.  The course is open to UTG students. The faculty member also teaches another course in their area of expertise for the University of The Gambia, which students may register for.

Since the signature program began in the fall 2006, the following faculty members have taught seminar courses from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, as illustrated by the list below:

 Professor Ho Nguyen (economics), Fall 2006, Globalization and Africa;

 Professor Femi Ojo Ade (French language, literature and culture), Fall 2007 & 2008, African Leaders of the Modern Era: Struggles for Independence and Democracy;

 Professor Christy Wolovich (biology), Fall 2009, Ecology and Conservation;

 Professor Bill Roberts (anthropology), Fall 2010, Peoples and Cultures of Senegambia;

 Lecturer Susannah Chapman (anthropology), Fall 2011, Farmers, Food, and Globalization: Transformations in Local Environments, Social Relations, Cultures and Foodways.

 The four-credit seminar and four-credit language and culture courses are required for all signature semester students and comprise eight SMCM credit hours.  The academic options available to students to complete their signature semester schedule include registering for other courses that carry pre-approved SMCM credit or taking University of The Gambia courses for credits that will transfer to their home institution through SMCM.

 One course that is offered every semester in The Gambia is ANTH 397, Service-Learning/Directed Research, which includes students to write reflection papers.  This course enables a student to earn four SMCM credits while working with an organization or institution in The Gambia engaged in activities that match the student’s academic, personal or professional interests.

To view previous student Service-Learning/Directed Research papers, click here!

 St. Mary’s College’s PEACE program also works with a number of the University of The Gambia faculty each signature semester to teach courses reviewed and approved for credit by SMCM.  The courses are generally heavily enrolled by University of The Gambia students.  Examples of courses taught in previous semesters include: Ecology and Environment in The Gambia (biology credit); History of Africa (history credit); Seminar in Human Rights in Africa (political science); African Traditional Religions (religious studies); Environmental Management in The Gambia (chemistry); Introduction to African Literature (English); Sociolinguistics (anthropology), Sociology of Religion (sociology).

 Students may elect to take any of the University of The Gambia courses offered by any of their seven schools.  UTG course offerings may change from semester to semester. Generally, students make their selections after reviewing the final course offerings and discussing their choices with the UTG academic liaison to the PEACE program, the PEACE program director and coordinator.  

 Classroom learning is enhanced and augmented by a variety of field trips over the course of the semester.  Every semester students have overnight visits to the Mandinka/Jola village of Tumani Tenda and the Mandinka village of Brefet.  Students spend a day in the coastal village of Sanyang at the nature camp of Gambian artist Edu Ndow.  Other possible destinations include Barra, Juffure, Albreda, James Island, Njau, and Janjangbureh.

 The signature semester concludes with an excursion to view the wildlife and natural beauty of Niokolo Koba national park in eastern Senegal.  Afterwards, the group travels to Dakar and spends a night or two at the World Heritage site of Gorée Island.