Dr. Ronnenberg has devoted the better part of his professional life introducing American students to geographical corners of history with which they are largely unfamiliar. His greatest passion is teaching African history, drawing upon his experience living, working, and researching in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Dr. Ronnenberg’s teaching is informed by his scholarship concerning late colonial and early independent East African history. His current project is an effort to document the history of Burundian refugees in Western Tanzania who fled their homeland in the early 1970s. Recent policy changes have forced this population of several hundred thousand to either return home or become Tanzanian citizens, agreeing to a resettlement program in another region. This project has occasioned a scholarly relationship with the Psychiatric Department of Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, and has taken up an additional humanitarian concern, the provision of mental health and social work services to those suffering from the historical trauma of genocide. As such, it depends upon professional relationships with, and cooperation between the UNHCR, the UNDP, and the Refugee Department within the Tanzanian Ministry of the Interior.
Relationships cultivated in East Africa have made Dr. Ronnenberg’s annual study abroad program to Tanzania, in which focuses on environmental and development history, a richly rewarding experience for student participants.