This site records the collaborative efforts between the University of Illinois and Sao Tome and Prinicipe for the years 2006-2007. For updates regarding our latest projects in Sao Tome, please visit our new website at http://saotomeproject.prairienet.org/.
In Sao Tome the University of Illinois is initiating projects which are strengthening democratic institutions by promoting uncensored access to information. It is assisting in infrastructure development which will enhance the economy and supports social institutions. The university is also projecting a positive image of American citizenship and education through service learning. By examining the work conducted to date and looking toward the future, it becomes clear how the model of interdisciplinary service learning can expose students to the benefits of working with other disciplines on a broad but single project and witness how their activities enhance the growth of a developing country.
History of the Island
Sao Tome & Principe is a small island country off the west coast of Africa along the equator. The country was a former Portuguese colony. It gained its independence in 1975 with the first free democratic elections in 1992. The country represents all the challenges of a developing African nation with limited financial resources and an inadequately trained and educated workforce. Infrastructure, employment and education are national priorities.
The country offers a unique opportunity for the University of Illinois for research and teaching in partnership with government ministries and non governmental organizations (NGOs). The physical size, small population and socio-economic environment are such that even a small project can have major local impact. Numerous disciplines on the University of Illinois campus can be engaged in a meaningful way through service learning and action research. The island offers an exceptional opportunity for students to have a hands-on practical experience to complement their classroom education. Much of the practical experience can have real and lasting effects on the country of Sao Tome and students.
Who We Are
Faculty – Student teams have been organized from the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences, the School of Architecture and the Urban and Regional Planning Department around projects identified by Sao Tome representatives as important starting points: information access and infrastructure capacity. Much of the methods for participation and implementation have been derived from the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP), a twenty year university project in East St. Louis, Illinois where students from campus are implementing class based learning in partnership with community members.