Sustainable Change Program Offers Students Service-Learning and Development Experience in Ghana, West Africa

June 23, 2014
 
During May Session 2014 School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) Research Associate and Lecturer Joe Campbell, Kim Burton, a professor in City and Regional Planning (CRP) and 10 OSU students traveled to Ghana to participate in the interdisciplinary, Study Abroad program, “Ghana Sustainable Change” (CRPLAN 5798).
 
The program, started in 2010, is a collaborative partnership between Ohio State University’s City and Regional Planning section in the Knowlton School of Architecture, the School of Environment and Natural Resources, the College of Public Health, the Columbus Ghanaian community, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the Offinso North District in rural Ghana. Ghana Sustainable Change (GSC) is intended to provide culturally sensitive localized district planning to assist the Offinso North District in meeting the challenges of population growth.  
 
OSU students participating in this year’s program represented numerous academic units from across campus, including CRP, SENR, Engineering, Public Health, and African American Studies and worked directly with District staff and the community to address District needs such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, renewable energy and affordable housing, as well as mapping out key community resources such as schools, water wells, and soccer fields.  Many of the projects the students work on are on-going and  tracked in a database Campbell and Brittany Baker , a recent SENR graduate majoring in Natural Resource Management, created to measure the progress and impact of the Ghana Sustainable Change program over time.
 
On the experience, Chloe Greene, a graduate student in CRP reflected, “Ghana is a country with rich history and culture. The landscape is astonishing and the generosity of the people is unparalleled. Ghana Sustainable Change stands apart from many study abroad programs. Not only were we provided with the opportunity to work closely with government officials and employees, but the projects we participated in have real implications for residents in the Offinso North District. GSC was truly life changing and is a worthwhile experience for anyone.”
 
Students enroll in a pre-departure course offered through City and Regional Planning co-taught by Burton and Campbell to help orient students to Ghana’s history and culture, as well as the politics of the country generally and the Offinso North District specifically.  
 
Campbell noted what is distinctive about this study abroad opportunity is its long-term service component. “We have been working with the same community and district staff now for 4 years and are beginning to see some outcomes associated with this partnership and the work we are doing.”  In fact, Campbell participated as a graduate student in the first offering of the program and helped to identify where commodities flow throughout the district in an effort to reduce post-harvest loss of tomatoes. 
 
The program was recently awarded a 2014 OSU Office of Outreach and Engagement Impact Grant which supports the application of innovative and creative scholarship to address important societal challenges and fulfills Ohio State’s land-grant university commitment to public service by partnering with communities to address challenges of local, national and global significance.
 
 
To learn more about this year’s program, visit Ghana - Sustainable Change on The Ohio State University’s Office of International Affairs Study Abroad website.
 

OSU students Danny Berghoff, Chloe Greene, and Kobby Agyekum work to survey property for the “Shared Shelter” affordable housing project in Akomadan, Ghana.

 

OSU SENR Research Associate Joe Campbell discusses the process of small-scale gold extraction and refinement with local miners near the village of Nkwankwa, Ghana.

OSU Students Lauren Michlitsch and Nathan Cotton work to distribute health goods alongside Offinso North District Assembly Information Services staff Rahmat Ndego and Ghana National Service Personnel member Hussein Suleman in Akomdan, Ghana.

OSU student Kobby Agyekum discusses the floor plans he designed in collaboration with the Offinso North District Assembly, Ghana to the potential homebuyers in the community.

OSU students Lauren Michlitsch, Karmyn Schnieder and Chloe Green (left to right) take a tour of the Techiman Market, Ghana with team partner Rahmat Ndgeo.

The 2014 OSU Ghana Sustainable Change program team poses for a photograph at the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary with partners from the Offinso North District Assembly, Ghana.

Members of the 2014 OSU Ghana Sustainable Change program team pose in front of the Kintampo Waterfall with partners from the Offinso North District Assembly, Ghana.

The 2014 OSU Ghana Sustainable Change program team in Kofiasua, Ghana after co-instructors Kim Burton (Nana Akua Agyeiwaa) and Joe Campbell (Nana Tabiri Agyei) were enstooled as Chiefs of Development for the community.

Photos courtesy of Joe Campbell. 

Published July 2014