In 2007, Tufts launched a unique experiential learning program focused on gold mining in the country of Ghana. Supported in part by a grant from Tisch College and sponsored by the Africa in the New World interdisciplinary minor, the program seeks to introduce undergraduates to issues confronting the West African nation by examining political, socio-economic, historical, cultural, and environmental issues surrounding Ghana’s gold mining industry. Issues are framed within the larger context of corporate social responsibility and the ways in which such policies have been constructed, deconstructed, contested and renegotiated over time.
Currently in its third year, the Ghana Gold program consists of a study tour and a subsequent undergraduate colloquium. The study tour, which has been led for the past two years by professors Pearl Robinson of the Political Science department and Edward Kutsoati of the Economics department, provides an opportunity for Tufts undergraduates to meet with government officials, business leaders, educators, artists, miners and Ghanaian citizens in order to gain a first-hand understanding of the impact of gold mining on the country. Weekly colloquium meetings during the winter term then provide an academic and theoretical framework to the students’ experience in Africa.
For the past two years, Ghana Gold students have worked with instructional design specialists in UIT Academic Technology (AT) to articulate and preserve aspects of their learning experience. Using an open source electronic portfolio program developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, students are asked to reflect upon their experiential learning in the study tour, connect the study tour to theory and literature covered in the colloquium, select artifacts that demonstrate accomplishment of their learning objectives, and discuss how their experience relates to their own definitions of active citizenship. Samples of last year’s student portfolios are available online, here.
Professor Robinson hopes students will continue to use their Ghana Gold portfolios to capture and build upon their understanding of Africa as they proceed through their undergraduate studies and move into their professional careers.
In addition to creating individual electronic portfolios to capture their work, students in the program work together to create a documentary movie on their experience. This year’s Ghana Gold cohort will be using Final Cut Express, a video-editing software, under the guidance of Zachary Camara, Program Technical Assistant, to produce Ghana Gold: The Movie III which will be made available to the Tufts community and the public, upon its completion at the end of April. To learn more about the study tour and view a portion of last year’s documentary, see the Inside Tuftsarticle written about the program last March.
Hannah Reeves, Instructional Design and Technology Specialist, UIT Academic Technology