The UCU East Africa programme aims to introduce students to a host of theories and issues relevant to global political economy studies, critical development studies and African studies (including postcolonialism).

The programme also adopts a ‘transformative learning’ approach, seeking to challenge popular stereotypes, assumptions and biases about ‘Africa’ and ‘development’ and hoping to foster new perspectives, lateral thinking and critical self-reflection. In doing so, the programme seeks to inspire tomorrow’s global leaders and citizens, whether those working directly in fields associated with international development or those in other fields implicated by globalisation.  

The UCU East Africa programme was established in 2006 and has been running in its present form since 2008. It was developed by a group of University College Utrecht lecturers in response to the students’ wish for experiential learning and the dream of contributing to making the world a better place.

In a general sense, the programme intends to expose students to global diversity, connections and challenges, inspiring principles of global citizenship. More specifically, it aims at preparing students for work in the area of international development.

The programme is interdisciplinary in nature:  students admitted into the programme come from different academic backgrounds. For example, they can be students in the medical track with an ambition to work in public health, or students of performing arts, interested in community theater as a medium of facilitating social change. They can be economics students interested in micro-finance, or students dedicated to sustainable development and safe-guarding environment. The programme is intended for any student who wants to apply their chosen discipline to understanding global issues.

The UCU East Africa programme is open for 2nd and 3rd year students who have fulfilled their breadth requirement. Participants are selected based on their genuine interest in development issues, interdisciplinary and cross-cultural interests, and intellectual and emotional maturity.

The programme consists of:

  •  A level 2 preparatory course at University College Utrecht during the Spring semester, The Theory and Practice of Development (UCINTDEV21)
  •  A level 3 field course on site in East Africa, East Africa Field Course (UCINTDEV31)
  •  A level 2 internship at a host organisation in East Africa, (UCACCINT21)

The three courses may count towards the 180 credits required for a bachelor diploma. The UCINTDEV31 may be used to count as a third level 3 course for a Social Science or Humanities major, but it does not complete a track. Otherwise, these courses do not fulfil any particular graduation requirement. All courses can count as Curriculum Enrichment towards the Honours certificate.

Students who have participated in the programme say: 

“The internship greatly complemented my education at University College Utrecht by providing a practical understanding of the various theoretical concepts concerning development I had studied. I learned a lot from what I saw, heard, and experienced. I am grateful for the opportunity as it was truly an unforgettable experience.”

“I learned valuable lessons from my experience in the field. The UCU East Africa programme allowed me to meet fascinating and extraordinary people. I also learned the value of nature and became committed to conservation. I learned  a number of things about myself, which I could only have discovered in difficult moments that put one to the test. This has been one of the most precious experiences I have ever had.”

Comments from host organisations on the work that the students carried out include the following:

“Our University College Utrecht interns delivered an in-depth research report. The document will be immensely useful in informing our advocacy and lobbying for durable solutions to the problems of internal displacement.”

“University College Utrecht produced a detailed report on food security at the household level. Their scientific approach towards food production and agricultural practices will help us identify workable solutions that will enable the community to be food secure.”

“The students managed to undertake an impressive amount of work during the relative short duration and produce a report that was clear, well organized and that provides a nuanced and well substantiated description of the key components of the programme.”

For more information please email to:

The programme director is Dr V. Corey Wright, email:

Esmee Mulder contributes to the programme coordination and is the programme administrator, email:

Students considering this programme should discuss the timing of it in their curriculum with their tutor.

You can learn more about the UCU East Africa programme during the info session on Tuesday 27 October 2020 at 16.30 to 18.00. Also make sure to read the information booklet or check out last year's presentation. Additionally, updates will be posted in the 'UCU East Africa 2021' Facebook group.


You can apply to the programme through this online application form. The application deadline is 8 November 2020.