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M.A. Culture and Environment in Africa

About the CEA Master’s programme

The master programme Culture and Environment in Africa (CEA) focuses on pre-historical, historical, and contemporary political ecology of the African continent at the intersection of global, national, regional and local sub-systems. Africa has had a longstanding history of sustainable community-based management of natural resources and of local cultural vitality. However, at the same time, pre-historical and historical case studies have provided evidence of rapid human induced and/or natural environmental collapses. Local forms of resource management were incorporated into larger commoditized economies by colonial administrations and, later, by national regimes. This often led to local interests becoming pitted against national interests.

Rich Cultural Hertiage in a Vulnerable Human-Environment System

In recent years, transnational and international agreements and organizations have considerably influenced the administration of natural resources. Consequently, the multiplicity and hybridization of institutions, world views, perceptions, and strategies impacting upon African environments is growing rapidly. Nowadays African savannas, deserts and rainforests are valued as part of a global natural heritage and as repositories of biodiversity. Furthermore, Africa is endowed with a rich cultural heritage, with approximately 2000 languages currently spoken on the continent attesting to the diversity and extent of local adaptations. However, current poverty and demographic shocks (e.g. rapid population growth or demographic catastrophes such as HIV/AIDS), lack of education, weak institutions, declining state functions, violent conflict, globalization, and major environmental changes have led to an increase in the vulnerability of the coupled human-environment system.

Interdisciplinary Approach

These developments will be examined in detail in this master programme. The course is offered as a one-subject master course. It will provide an interdisciplinary approach to human-environment relations, which entails diverse methodological skills and capacities to operate and assess methodologies and theories of various disciplines. The master’s programme will enable graduates to participate in advanced research within interdisciplinary programmes, and prepare students for work in national and international organizations operating in the field.

Why study the CEA Master’s programme?

A Master’s of Culture and Environment in Africa (CEA) degree opens a world of opportunities for graduates as it is intended to provide thorough knowledge of, and insights into:

  • key issues of human-environment research in Africa;
  • core concepts, methodologies, theories and applications of human-environment research;
  • political and administrative implications of interdisciplinary research.

Skill-orientation is an outstanding characteristic of this Master course. In this context skills are defined as capacities to handle scientific research tools adequately, along with the ability to transfer them quickly from one context to another.

Skills you will learn:

  • the ability to manage and evaluate large data files, e.g. in GIS format software, and to handle other specialized software packages;
  • the ability to dissect a research question into meaningful subquestions, to create indicators, and to develop research strategies;
  • the capacity to conduct research under expert supervision, to collect, analyze and interpret data, and to transfer results into written and spoken presentations.

Career Opportunities

  • Research and Academic Teaching
  • International Organizations
  • Government Administrations
  • Museums
  • Assessment and Management of Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites
  • Tourism Planning

The German Excellence Initiative

Furthermore, the University of Cologne is one of the eleven German Excellence universities and it offers excellent research conditions for young academics in terms of resources and networks. For international students wishing to come to Cologne, the University offers German language courses and preparatory programmes.