Ubuntu & The Sustainable Development Goals: Learning from Uganda

Learn about sustainable community development in Uganda.

UCalgary Sustainability Studies is excited to invite you on the first interdisciplinary group study program designed by our office. This program will use the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a guide to
help students explore many of the daily issues faced by Ugandans as their communities face new and ongoing challenges from the local to the global. Through the lens of Ubuntu: the Bantu work and life philosophy that is relationship-oriented and strives for communal solidarity, students will study, and explore with local community leaders and groups as they work towards the common goal of sustainable community development.


Throughout the course of the program, you will have the opportunity to experience, first hand, agricultural cooperatives, women’s collectives, the creation of eco-tourism sites, a village cultural immersion experience, several social and environmental innovation programs, historical tours, cooking classes and boats tours of the Nile and Lake Victoria.

Key information




Spring 2020

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status


Application deadline

This program is full for 2020.

Applications are now closed.


Eligibility requirements

This program is open to students from all majors. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

All sessions located in the

The Sustainability Resource Centre (SB 101)

November 7, 12:30PM, SB 101
November 19, 11 AM, SB 101  

Student experience

image of students walking in nature reserve with animals

This infographic depicts the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Click the image to visit the UN's website and learn more!

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Dr. Sarah Skett at sscskett@ucalgary.ca

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at group.study@ucalgary.ca

Other useful links:

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in two courses:

    UNIV 501.XX: Experiential Learning: Understanding UBUNTU and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Uganda (3 units)

    UNIV 501.XX: Topics in Sustainability: Sustainability and our Positionality in the World (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    The prerequisite for both courses is consent of the program instructor.

  1. Pre-departure

    May 4 & 5, Calgary: Mandatory pre-departure prep days

    Date TBD, Calgary: Mandatory first aid

    Date TBD, Calgary: Mandatory travel medical clinic

    Date TBD, Calgary: Mandatory pre-departure orientation

  2. In-field

    May 7, Calgary: Depart Calgary for Entebbe

    May 8, Entebbe: Arrival in Entebbe

    May 9, Entebbe to Mukono: Shopping for supplies and SIM cards; transfer to Mukono

    May 10-11, Mukono: Foundational lectures and group projects

    May 12, Kayunga: Pineapple farm visit

    May 13, Mukono: Walking tour of Mukono Town

    May 14, Mabira Forest: Ziplining or light hike, and visit to Football Training Academy

    May 15, Mukono: Group work day

    May 16-18, Jinja: Nile River lunch Cruise, Mvule boat tour on Lake Victoria, visit the source of the Nile River, walking tour of Jinja Town, and craft market visit

    May 19, Mukono: Lecture

    May 20, Biyengi, Kiteza and Kauku villages: Communal women’s group visits

    May 21, Kabembe: Energy efficient clay stove workshop and lunch in the village

    May 22-23, Mukono: Reflect, write, and rest

    May 24-25, Kampala: Cultural heritage tour (mode of transportation TBD), and walking tour of the central business district with visits to a youth run SMEs.

    May 26, Mayindo: Cultural immersion experience including: a day-in-the-life of an African Woman with a traditional cooking class and village walk

    May 27, Mpigi: Visit to the Social Innovation Academy exploring the process of reusing and up-scaling waste materials in an innovative way to generate income where no recycling options exist

    May 28, Equator and Entebbe: A tour of the equator and then return to Entebbe

    May 29, Entebbe: Depart for Calgary or independent travel

  3. Post-field

    June 5, Calgary: Final Reflection Journal due

    June 4, Calgary: Final Group Assignment Due

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Ubuntu & The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Learning from Uganda Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. The program cost is $5,327.

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.

    2020/21 Tuition Fees:

    The following proposed rate increases are being shared in advance of their approval to help students plan their finances for the upcoming school year.

    The Government of Alberta recently lifted the tuition freeze that has been in place since 2014-15. As a result, tuition rates for Canadian (domestic) students will be permitted to increase by 7% annually in each the next three years . Tuition rates for international students will no longer be regulated. In response to this change, the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors will be reviewing proposals to increase tuition rates in January 2020. If approved, the following rate increases will apply for the 2020-21 academic year:

    • New domestic students: 7% increase to all tuition fees, except for undergraduate programs in engineering course-based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 10% increase is being proposed.
    • New International students: 10% increase to tuition fees with the exception of course based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 15% increase is being proposed.
    • Graduate thesis students: A new tuition structure that will even out program costs over the length of the program versus having higher costs in years one (Masters) or pre-candidacy (PhD)
    • All continuing students:  5% increase to tuition fees

    If approved, these rate increases will be in effect for the Spring 2020 term.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    New! Faculty of Arts Group Study Program (GSP) Scholarships (for GSP participants) and Faculty of Arts Student Study Abroad Scholarships (for other international programs) - up to 10 awards of $1000 each! Deadline to apply is March 31st.  Any queries about these scholarships should be directed to Faculty of Arts Associate Dean Gavin Cameron: gcameron@ucalgary.ca 

    IDEAS Funding: Students in the Faculty of Science are encouraged to apply for IDEAS funding. For more information, please click here.

    Schulich Student Activity Fund: All Schulich students are also encouraged to take advantage of the Schulich Student Activity Fund (SSAF). For more information, please click here.

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email group.study@ucalgary.ca to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

All accommodations are are student appropriate shared accommodations. Students will share accommodations with 2-3 other other students. All rooms include bed nets and running water facilities.


At many of the accommodation sites half or full-board is included which will greatly reduce food costs. Most meals are buffet style and will accommodate a variety of dietary needs and preferences. On some of the days spent with communities in the village the meals will be sourced and prepared locally, at a much lower cost than restaurants, as well as offering a much lower ‘footprint’ which is in line with the sustainability goals of the program. 

This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from all faculties.

Applications will be considered after your application and unofficial transcript have been received by Study Abroad.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected.

    The Statement of Purpose is submitted within your online application (max 500 words).

    Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.

  2. Unofficial Transcript

    Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre and submit it by email to  group.study@ucalgary.ca.

    Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.

    Sign the program specific students agreement and submit to group.study@ucalgary.ca

  3. Interview with the Instructor

    After your complete application has been received and reviewed by the instructors, you will be contacted by Dr. Sarah Skett to schedule an interview. Please watch your UCalgary email account and expect to be contacted within several business days of submitting all your documents to the Group Study Team.

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying. 

Please note that the laws of Uganda prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex and do not protect LGBTQIA2S+ persons. While the University of Calgary upholds the values of diversity and inclusivity and does not condone such laws, it is our responsibility to ensure that all students travelling to Uganda are aware of these laws and have the necessary information to protect their safety. Even though there are few convictions that result from such prosecutions, local LGBTQIA2S+ persons are routinely harassed by the police, and social discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread.  We recommend that students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community exercise caution when considering international study to Uganda, as the safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority.

If you would like to discuss any questions or concerns that you may have regarding travelling to this country, please feel free to reach out to your study abroad advisor at group.study@ucalgary.ca or the program professor at sscskett@ucalgary.ca

For more information on the Government of Canada’s travel advice for LGBTQIA2S+ people, please feel free to visit the following site: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/lgbt-travel

Students will be immersed in daily Ugandan life, from the village, to the natural wonders, to the city. They will begin to understand their role and impacts as global citizens and how they can become changemakers from those who are living it in Uganda.

Dr. Sarah Skett

Program instructor

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

Please scroll up to the top of this page to view the info sessions for this program.

We also recommend watching Study Abroad 101 for general information.

Watch Study Abroad 101

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Group Study Advisors by emailing group.study@ucalgary.ca or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select #2, "Study Abroad Advising", to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.