From encountering wildlife at Lilongwe Wildlife Center to taking in the splendor of Likhubula Falls to spending the day with locals, the 2024 Empowering Change: Research Strategies for Politics and Development in Malawi program promises an unforgettable and life-changing summer experience. The program is open to undergraduates of all ranks and majors and gives students a deep dive into research methodology that they’ll be able to apply to future careers in government, international development and NGOs. With an on-the-ground primer on the Chichewa language, Malawian cultural practices and guest lectures by preeminent Malawian scholars and researchers, students will leave the program with a whole new perspective on Africa and be equipped with a toolkit of new skills they can use for the rest of their college career and beyond.
“For students who want to do work in the developing world, it’s virtually impossible to get your foot in the door,” explained resident director and associate professor of political science Amanda Robinson. “If you’re a graduate applying for an internship or research position, to be able to say that you lived in Malawi for a month and that you learned research methods that are culturally appropriate – it can be incredible for your CV.”
Robinson co-leads the program with Mary Rodriguez, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership. The two have extensive experience leading programs and conducting research in Africa in countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi. Their expertise helps them guide students through a rigorous yet fun month in Africa, complete with unique excursions to archives, a tea plantation, development sites and areas of natural splendor.
Robinson shared how a former student from the 2019 program who had never been out of Ohio before the program has now gone on to graduate school to pursue an international career. He said his interest all started when he studied abroad in Malawi. “These kinds of transformative experiences are what’s exciting about the program for me,” said Robinson.