• Boats along coast

    Capstone in Ghana

  • Small elephant walking through forest

    Capstone in Ghana

  • Drumming ensemble

    Capstone in Ghana

  • Dr. Frost on forest canopy rope bridge

    Capstone in Ghana


Spots still available on the summer 2019 program! Application deadline February 15th, 2019. 

Learn first-hand about the impact of colonialism and the dissemination of African influence via the trans-Atlantic slave trade with an immersive experience in the West African country of Ghana. Visit the Elmina Castle, the oldest European structure in Sub-Saharan Africa, built by the Portuguese in 1482 and first point of European contact to West Africa. Elmina was a major center in the exportation of gold, ivory, and the African slave.

Embark on a tour of Kakum National Park, one of West Africa’s surviving tropical rain forests and home to over 40 large mammals (elephants, monkeys, and antelope, to name a few) and hundreds of bird species, butterflies, and lush vegetation. Experience Kakum’s infamous canopy walkway tour and gain a bird’s eye view of the tropical foliage. Enjoy a drive through the forest zone to Kumasi, the capital city of the Ashanti Kingdom to visit the Slave River and test your bartering skills with local artisans at the open-air market.

Interact with skilled craftsmen, artisans and master musicians in the communal village of Medie, home of the Dagara Music Center, and experience traditional African music at its source. Instruments such as djembes, kpanlogo drums, and gyils (African xylophone) will be available for purchase along with souvenirs unique to Ghana. Learn basket weaving and batik making to create your own personalized souvenir. The final few days will be a service-learning opportunity with a visit to a school for the blind. Engage with the youth of Ghana who experience life around them from a different perspective. The trip will conclude in Ghana’s bustling capital city of Accra, to take in a few final attractions or simply relax before departure to the U.S. Be sure to bring your inner sense of adventure and expect the unexpected on this once-in-a-lifetime trip!


Course Leaders

Ryan Frost, Instructor

Department: School of Music
Phone: 319-273-2228
Email: ryan.frost@uni.edu
Campus Address: GBPAC 18

Feel free to visit with Ryan during office hours to learn more about the program: 

Tuesdays, 1 - 3 pm 
Fridays, 9 - 10 am & 11 - 12 pm
(Email him beforehand to ensure availability)

Ryan Frost, Instructor of Percussion in the UNI School of Music, has a special interest in world percussion and conducted field research in Ghana during two prior trips. His passion for the Ghanaian culture extends beyond music and into its history, people, ethnic groups and the dissemination of the culture around the world. Ryan directs the UNI West African Drum Ensemble, an experiential ensemble that focuses its repertoire on the music of Ghana. His contagious enthusiasm for all things “Ghana” will inspire during visits to cultural sites, historic landmarks, and natural sites and landscapes. He is excited to share this cultural immersion opportunity with UNI students through this study abroad experience, and for students to witness the vitality of the West African spirit first hand.


CAP 3550: Constructing Cross-Cultural Bridges (3 credit hours)

The educational and cross-cultural goals and objectives for this course are to learn about and investigate music as culture. Participants will experience immersion in distinct Ghanaian cultural groups and explore the range of ways that humans create and use music. Some of the learning outcomes include: 

  1. Identify and discuss a wide range of ways that people use music to transform and add meaning to their lives.
  2. Recognize, identify, and perform musical selections and dances from each of the cultural groups represented.
  3. Recognize and discuss the significance of various musical traditions to people who make and listen to them.
  4. Compare and contrast musical traditions and practices between Ghanaian sub-cultures and Western music.
  5. Evaluate the impact of the African Diaspora on music today.

To view the course syllabus, click HERE. Participation in this program requires several class meetings throughout the spring semester. Contact the course leader for more information on academic requirements. 


  • In order to receive Capstone credit, program participants must have completed 60 credits hours prior to the program's course start date (i.e. be of Junior standing). Students who participate in capstone programs without meeting the credit hour prerequisite will receive elective credit. In this instance, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) regarding how the elective credit fits into their specific plans of study.
  • Students planning to participate in the spring commencement ceremony in May can enroll in this summer term program, however, their degree will not be conferred until the end of the summer term and is contingent on the successful completion of the program and all required coursework.
  • Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
  • Capstone courses cannot be repeated. If you have previously taken this capstone course, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.


Tentative Program Dates: Thursday, May 16, 2019 to Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sample itinerary is subject to change.

Proof of Yellow Fever vaccination is required for entry into Ghana. Due to a shortage of the vaccine, program participants will need to travel to select clinics in the Midwest in order to be vaccinated. As of September, 2018, clinics offering the vaccine were located in Ames, Des Moines, and Bettendorf, Iowa. For more information on Yellow Fever, visit https://www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/index.html

Day 1: Arrive in Accra, the bustling capital city of Ghana; experience African city life; exchange currency.

Day 2: After breakfast, depart for a sightseeing tour of Accra. Drive through the administrative and economic districts of this 137-year-old city. Visit the W. E. B. Dubois Centre for Pan African Culture, Independence/ Black Star Square, and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. End your tour at the Arts Centre where you’ll have an opportunity to use your bargaining skills to shop from an open-air market for artifacts from Ghana and West Africa.

Day 3: This morning, check out of your hotel in Accra and depart for Cape Coast. Upon arrival, drive through the historic Denkyira Kingdom to Kakum National Park, one of West Africa’s surviving tropical rain forests. Kakum is the home of over 40 large mammals (such as forest elephants, bongo antelopes and monkeys), 400 bird species as well as many species of butterflies, flora and fauna. The most popular attraction is the canopy walkway which is made up of seven bridges extending 1000 ft., hanging 100 ft. above the forest floor. Choose between a nature walk through the forest to discover the wide variety of exotic floral species and their medicinal value or enjoy a canopy walk. Afterward, embark on a tour of the infamous forts, castles and slave dungeons of Ghana. History will unfold as you see key locations of the slave trade. Visit the Cape Coast Castle, built by the Swedes in 1653 and later taken over by the British. This castle also houses the West African Historical Museum, established by the Smithsonian Institute in collaboration with the Ghanaian Government in 1994.

Day 4: Start your day with a visit to the Elmina Castle, built by the Portuguese in 1482 and also known as St. George's Castle. This was the first European structure built in Sub-Saharan Africa. The colorful harbor nestled below the Elmina Castle, full of boats preparing to go to sea, offers one of West Africa’s greatest photo opportunities. Embark on a guided walking tour of Elmina, the first point of European contact in Sub-Saharan Africa. Climb Jago Hill to Fort Saint Jago, which was used by the Dutch as a post to snatch the Elmina Castle from the Portuguese.

Day 5: Check out of your hotel and drive through the forest zone to Kumasi, the seat of the Ashanti Empire. En route, stop at Assin Manso. Visit the site of “Donkor Nsuo”, the former Slave River and market and the final transit point for a large number of enslaved Africans. This is the final resting place for two ancestors whose mortal remains were returned from the USA and Jamaica and re-interred there.

Day 6: Travel to Medie, in the Greater Accra region.

Days 7 -10: Immersive experience at the Dagara Music Center (DMC) to learn musical traditions of the Dagara and Ga people.  Founded by famed musician, Bernard Woma, the DMC welcomes groups of university students from around the world.  Daily individualized and group instruction is set in this vibrant cultural center, which aims to preserve the historical traditions of the region. Featured instruments of this musical tradition include djembe, kpanlogo and gyil (African xylophone). Activities include a tour of Medie, visit to a master gyil craftsman, souvenir shopping, and musical and dance performances.

Day 11: This morning, meet your driver and guide at the music center and transfer to your first day of volunteering in a local community, activities TBD.

Day 12: Full day of community service

Day 13: Enjoy some time before your flight to pack and do some last-minute shopping. Later on, transfer to the airport for your return flight home.

Day 14: Departure for USA; arrive the next day

Housing & Meals

Students will stay in housing arranged by the Study Abroad Center through our partner organization and paid for before departure. Expect simple, dorm-style to rustic housing with limited access to Wi-Fi. Most meals while abroad are built into the cost of the program. Students are encouraged to be flexible, to live in the moment, and to be willing to try the local foods.

Program Costs

Capstone in Ghana

Estimated Program Cost:


* estimated total cost of participation, actual amount depends on type of housing accommodation selected, actual airfare purchase price, personal spending habits, and other factors

Click Below to View Detailed Budget Sheet:

Cost of studying on-campus*

*per semester, estimated, will vary per person

Tuition & Fees:


Room & Board:




Personal Expenses:






Source: https://admissions.uni.edu/costs

Dates & Deadlines


App Deadline: 
Friday, February 15, 2019
Program Dates: 
Thursday, May 16, 2019 to Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:

  • Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
    • If your cumulative GPA is between 2.40 to 2.49, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (28 Gilchrist):
      • A letter of reference from your academic advisor supporting your pursuit of study abroad
      • An essay, which should explain why your cumulative GPA is below a 2.50, include how your cumulative GPA is stable or improving, a detailed plan for improving your academic performance a strong academic and/or personal interest in your study abroad location and/or course, and a compelling academic rationale for studying abroad.
  • Must be over the age of 18 years old
  • Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
  • Must be in good standing with the University
  • UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements if applicable.
  • Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
  • All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
  • Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.