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Introduces students experientially to complex social issues in a poor developing country and a diverse array of emerging models for addressing them.  Class sessions will be dedicated to the complex social issues and emerging solutions found in the nascent field of social enterprise and development to alleviate poverty.  Students will also have the chance to put their knowledge and compassion to use through service (similar to an intense, 3-day internship) while working indirectly and directly for the benefit of Rwandan development.


Experience first-hand the needs and solutions of developing markets

Social Enterprise
Learn directly from the development experts on entrepreneurial solutions of alleviating poverty

Put knowledge and compassion to use through on-site service learning


Rwanda represents an ideal location for development experts to engage. Because it is a poor country but one of the safest and most stable parts of the African continent, it represents an attractive place to test development impact. The last two decades have shown remarkable progress in Rwanda, and many of the most promising efforts are already being replicated in other developing countries. There is perhaps no more accessible and hopeful location to study the effects of a variety of development initiatives all in one place.


This seminar in developing enterprises will:

  • Introduce students to the people, organizations and pressing issues of one of the most hopeful and promising countries on the development frontier: Rwanda
  • Immerse students in the concepts and movement categorized by the term ‘social enterprise’, to include non-profit, business and hybrid models for social change or impact
  • Allow students the chance to engage and compare over a dozen different contexts and organizations for possible vocation and service in an accessible, safe and relatively small African country 
  • Develop a solid grasp of what the emerging field of social entrepreneurship is all about, and illustrate the power of entrepreneurial thinking in across all segments of development
  • Critically consider, and learn how to reasonably respond to, real-world challenges in context
  • Foster the empathy and the capacity to listen in a way that is required in order to take in, evaluate and articulately engage in individual and group discussions and projects
  • Sensitively navigate the emotional, moral and social concerns involved when working in emerging markets and with marginalized people

Course Registration
The GEO will notify seminar participants when they are able to register. The course associated with the seminar is ISE291

In order to receive the full four credits for this seminar, students must:

  • Meet twice for on-campus portion of the program, pre-departure
  • Meet primarily in morning seminars during a three-week period in Rwanda
  • Complete seminar assignments listed in the syllabus


Total program cost including non-refundable deposit is approximately $5,000. This covers:

  • Tuition for 4 credits
  • Program costs including:
    • Room
    • Board
    • Entrance fees
    • Course reader
    • In-country transportation
    • International medical & emergency insurance
  • Roundtrip airfare 

A $30 non-refundable application fee must accompany the application. The remainder will be billed to student accounts. Full details available from Student Financial Services.

Students are responsible for obtaining their passports well in advance of the seminar. Passport numbers required for travel reservations in mid-February.

Students are also responsible for securing any needed immunizations. Go to the CDC website for Rwanda.


Please note, applications will be considered for acceptance in the order received. Applicants should:

  • Have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA
  • Complete online application
  • Submit a Student Affairs Reference (if applying as a Freshman or rising Sophomore)
  • Submit a non-refundable $30 application fee
  • Submit a $450 program deposit within 10 days of acceptance

Non-Gordon students interested in applying to ISE291:

Applications will not be considered complete until all materials have been received. Send application fee and all printed forms to:

Gordon College
Global Education Office
255 Grapevine Road
Wenham, MA 01984 


For further information contact:
The Global Education Office
P 978 867 4399

“The Rwanda Seminar is one of the greatest opportunities offered to students at Gordon. Nowhere else have I learned so intensely; developed my professional and personal understanding of the world; met so many inspiring and challenging people; or seen such beautiful places! This seminar is an exceptional program. I was so impressed with the thought-provoking and far-reaching program structure. I loved the interactive nature of this learning experience because we expanded our understanding exponentially by going to the businesses, government offices, NGOs, and community spaces founded by people committed to Rwanda’s development. I know the lessons I learned will positively influence my opinions, goals, and career path; they already have begun to.”

—Gabrielle Perkins, Senior, Economics & French Major

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