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  • Locations: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Axum, Ethiopia; Bahir-Dar, Ethiopia; Gondar, Ethiopia; Lalibela, Ethiopia; Langano, Ethiopia; Shala National Park, Ethiopia; Yirga-Chefe, Ethiopia
  • Program Terms: Winter Break
  • Restrictions: Union applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 2.5
Program Description:
Ethiopia has been the cradle to Homo sapiens for 195,000 years and its ancient and modern history became intertwined 3000 years ago with the rise of an empire, Axum. Axum (400BC – 900AD) rose to power because of trade routes between African traders and Arab merchants. During its climax, the empire spread across the Red Sea and its emperors enjoyed tributes from as far as what is now Saudi Arabia.  Axum is supposedly home to Queen Sheba. Her son Menelik I was supposedly fathered by King Solomon during one of her journeys. After visiting his father, Menelik returned to Axum with the Arc of  the Covenant. The empire accepted Christianity as the official religion in the 4th century under emperor Ezana. Interestingly, however, the Arc seems to be the most sacred entity in the Orthodox church until this day. After the decline and fall of Axum, power shifted from the northern highlanders to the Agew people. However, the claim to the lineage of King Solomon never ceased to persist in one form or another until 1974 when King Haile-Selassie was deposed by a military coup.
The winter mini-term traces the history of Ethiopia and the role of coffee in the life of Ethiopians. It is appropriate for students interested in studying the history and culture of Ethiopia. It is also appropriate for students who are interested in coffee in general and students interested in understanding the art and science involved during roasting.

Coffee holds a sacred place in their country -just the growing and picking process of coffee involves over 12 million Ethiopians and produces over two-thirds of the country's earnings. The best Ethiopian coffee may be compared with the finest coffee in the world, and premium washed Arabica beans fetch some of the highest prices on the world market. In a world where time has long become a commodity, the Ethiopian coffee ceremony takes us back to a time when value was given to conversation and human relations. Perhaps an ancient proverb best describes the place of coffee in Ethiopian life, "Buna dabo naw", which when translated means "Coffee is our bread!"

Course of Study

The winter mini-term to Ethiopia has two major components. The first focuses on production and processing of coffee while the second exposes students to the rich (3000 year) history of Ethiopia. These two are bridged by the unique but rich culture of coffee ceremonies.
Over the course of the mini-term, the students will travel to the southern part of the country to visit coffee farms and processing facilities. The students will visit a coffee research center and attend two lectures: (1) on reducing pathogens to the coffee plant and (2) on the agronomy of coffee.  A third lecture on roasting coffee beans will give the students a means to understand what happens during roasting. On the way to the coffee farm, the students will visit a National Park and natural hot springs in the Ethiopian Rift Valley.  These are complemented by three lectures on the Anthropology, History, and Geography of Ethiopia and the rift valley.  The students will visit four main places (Axum, Lalibela, Gondar, and Addis Ababa) that were powerhouses at different times and shaped the three thousand year history of Ethiopia.
Students are expected to keep a daily logbook or diary and write two papers: one on coffee and the other on Ethiopia's heritage.


There is no pre-requisite.


Because the production and processing of coffee is concentered in southern Ethiopia while most historical sites are in the northern part of Ethiopia, the group has to move from place to place and students will stay in local hotels (or lodges) with double occupancy.


(For specific dates, contact the International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor.)
  • April: Application deadline is the third Friday of spring term.
  • May: Accepted students must select "commit" or "decline" at the International Programs online application site to confirm participation 
  • Fall term: Orientation meetings
  • Late November: Mini-term begins
  • Mid-December: Program ends
  • Mid-January: Deadline to submit a topic for presentation
  • Mid-February: on campus presentation

For More Information

Students may contact Professor Samuel Amanuel, S&E N332 or by phone at 518-388-8020.

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.