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Program Description:

ACES in Sierra Leone: Sustainability - Agriculture, Environment, and Governance

Winter Break

Sierra Leone, West Africa



Broaden your understanding of relationship between agriculture and the environment and the roles of governance, management, and policy in development through participation in a two-week day study abroad course in Sierra Leone. We will observe agricultural and forestry businesses and projects, speak with policy makers and development leaders, visit ecotourim sites like community-managed beaches and jungle reserves, and learn from our local colleagues at Njala and other NGOs.

Watch the YouTube video to learn more! 

Study Tour and Service Project
Prior to the short-course at Njala University, students will spend approximately one week traveling overland in Sierra Leone to gain a first-hand experience in the challenges of policy and management at the agriculture and environment interface. We will conduct a service project in conjunction with a local development project and we will work with our colleagues from Njala University (several students and one professor) on this project.

sierra leone
Short Course
We will participate in a 5-day short-course held jointly with the University of Illinois and Njala University campus. The short course will focus on agriculture, environment, and governance in the context of development in Sierra Leone. Students will be required to actively participate in the short course presenting research or assisting with other activities.

This program is organized and led by Prof. Paul E. McNamara (Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and Division of Nutritional Sciences) and designed for both undergraduate and graduate students.
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Group Flight
As part of the Program Fee, the ACES Abroad will organize a group flight for this course.  All group flights will be departing from and arriving at O'Hare Airport. Very few exceptions are made for opting out of the group flight.

Faculty Advisor

 Paul E. McNamara
 Dr. McNamara is an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

  • Must have a passport valid for 6 months after program dates with at least two blank visa pages
  • Visa may be required 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Students who wish to participate in this program must show a strong commitment to academic achievement and be in good academic standing.
  • Applicants should be at least in the second semester of their sophomore year by the time the program begins.

Academics/Student Life

ACE 499- 3 Credits
Date/place/time of on campus meetings is TBA.

This course will be taught in English

 Housing: Hostels; Njala dormintory

For an Unofficial Budget of this program, please scroll to the top of this page and find the box labeled “Budget Sheets” and click on the semester during
which you want to participate. Please read through the Unofficial Budget information which also includes information on Financial Aid and Scholarships.
*Fees are subject to change due to exchange rate fluctuations and the number of participants.
Total cost is ESTIMATED and is BEFORE scholarships.

Financial Aid 
Financial aid can be applied to the cost of the program. The amount of financial aid that is applicable to study abroad will depend on your financial aid package. Since there are many variables that determine how your financial aid package applies to study abroad, it is best that you consult with the study abroad financial aid advisor in the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss your individual financial aid package.  Their email and more information on Financial aid can be found at
Eligible students may receive additional scholarships toward the program cost.  The amount varies depending on the program destination.  Scholarship amounts are announced when program fees for each program are announced.  Non-ACES students should contact their college about scholarship opportunities.  All participants should also apply for the Illinois for Illinois (I4I) Study Abroad Undergraduate Scholarship. For more information, go to
ACES Students are eligible for additional funding through their college. More information about ACES scholarships including the application can be found at 
 Application Information 

First Steps Info 
For more information on the first steps to going abroad, visit our website: or attend a First Steps Info Session in person.  These resources will get you thinking about important themes to consider before selecting a program including: academics, housing, duration, location, and cost.  You will learn how to research a program, understand cost (with a segment on scholarships and financial aid too), and even how to apply!  

Application Process
Click the "Apply Now" button on this web page to apply. Note that you will be charged a non-refundable application fee by clicking "Apply Now".
You may only apply to one program per term. Please consider your program options carefully before beginning a new program application.  Each time you click "Apply Now" you will be charged a non-refundable application fee.
Application Components 
The Study Abroad Office Application may include:
  • Letter of Recommendation - done electronically (must be an academic advisor, TA or professor)
  • Personal essay questions
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Signature verification form
  • Online questionnaires Upon acceptance to this program you may be required to complete the host institution's application. 
All requirements must be completed by the Study Abroad Office deadlines: online materials are due by 11:59 PM on the deadline date; paper materials are due by 4:45 PM the following business day.  The Study Abroad Office reviews program applications as a batch after the deadline has passed. The decision dates listed below indicate the earliest possible date that a student's application may be reviewed. Most decisions will be released two to three weeks after each deadline.

See Dates and Deadlines at the bottom of this page.

Health, Safety, and Pre-Departure
The health and safety of students abroad is something that the University of Illinois takes very seriously, which is why the Study Abroad Office provides services that range from international insurance coverage to a 24-hour phone line to speak to an Advisor on Duty. These services can be found at:
Vaccinations and Health
Once you have been accepted into the program you need to get a health consultation at McKinley Health travel and immunization unit ( to discuss what immunization you need, get a travel kit, etc. See also
Travel to the West Africa deserves some special care and precautions (for more information, see the Centers for Disease Control travel web page, , please look carefully at the Sierra Leone section

Students will be expected to obtain an anti-malarial drug, ensure their other required immunizations are up to date, and take safe travel precautions regarding water and mosquitoes while on the trip. Once you have been accepted into the program, you must complete a travel health consultation from your personal physician .

The Champaign County Health Department can also administer all needed vaccinations:

 The US Department of State has information on Sierra Leone at

Note: Health and Safety of our students while in Sierra Leone is an important concern to us. Students with serious medical conditions should review the following statement from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) before applying to the program.

Medical facilities in Sierra Leone fall critically short of U.S. standards.  People with serious medical conditions that require medications or frequent treatment are discouraged from traveling to Sierra Leone.  Most medications are in short supply, of inferior quality, or are fraudulent.  The cleanliness of medical facilities and quality of treatment is dismal.  Misdiagnosis, unavailable treatment, and improper use of drugs are commonly reported.
All travelers to Sierra Leone are advised to purchase insurance to cover medical evacuation in case of a serious accident, injury, or illness.*  Medical evacuation can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the situation, so all travelers should ensure their policies provide sufficient coverage.  Travelers are advised to see a physician prior to travelling to ensure that appropriate immunizations and precautions are taken, including medications for malaria prophylaxis and yellow fever vaccination (which is required for entry into the country).  Please refer to the Center for Disease Control’s website ( for recommendations specific to Sierra Leone.

The Consular Section maintains a more complete list of medical contacts at

Before You Go
The UIUC Study Abroad website ( and the ACES Study Abroad website ( both provide a variety of pre-departure information. Explore both sites for information such as travel plans, what to pack, money abroad, transportation, communicating with family members while abroad, and even what to do the day of your departure.

Passports and Visas
Please consult the host country’s consulate website or a visa agency to determine whether or not a visa is required to travel to your destination country or countries.

Withdrawal, Change, and Cancellation

To change to a different program during the application process, please e-mail
To withdraw or cancel your participation in a study abroad program, please visit this link to view the Withdrawal and Refund Policy (  y:georgia,serif;">
Contact Information

Faculty Leader
Paul E. McNamara
341 Mumford Hall, MC-710
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: 217-333-3769

ACES Study Abroad
123 Mumford Hall
1301 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: 217-333-3380
Walk-in hours:
2-4pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9:30-11:30am Wednesdays.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter Short-Term 2018-2019 09/15/2018 09/16/2018 TBA TBA