Explore social justice in urban environments. Examine how four cities around the world work, how they operate within the global economy, and how their citizens live and organize to create more just cities.
Learn through an innovative urban studies curriculum with fieldwork involving key actors and stakeholders—urban citizens, thought leaders and academics, public agencies, planners, elected officials, NGOs, and grassroots organizations.
The program takes a holistic, interdisciplinary view of academic topics, drawing not only on articles and faculty lectures, but also student observations, guest lectures, and homestay interviews to facilitate learning. Assignments typically involve written essays, oral presentations, and more creative projects such as posters and photo stories.
Live and study in four world cities undergoing rapid change and facing unique challenges.
Explore how politics, economics, geography, and culture shape social relations and the built environment.
Learn how to critically “read a city”—honing your ability to observe, question, research, document, and communicate—and gain a better understanding of the interconnected systems that affect urban environments.
Discover how people create a sense of community and urban identity.
Conduct fieldwork and complete an independent comparative research project on a topic of your choosing.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Development | Economy | Inequality
None, but previous college-level coursework and/or other preparation in urban studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, or other related fields is strongly recommended.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- What a just city is
- Who “owns” the city? What the priorities of city governance should be and what the consequences of pursuing some priorities over others are
- How urban citizens create a sense of place, of community, of urban identity
- Historical and sociocultural contexts that frame the opportunities, constraints, and uncertainties of urban life
- What must be done—and by whom—to move toward ecologically sustainable cities
- Opportunities for political action by individuals, community organizations, social movements, and local governments to shape city life
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- Culture and Society of World Cities – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course examines the many ways people make urban life meaningful. What are the historical, political-economic, and sociocultural contexts that frame the opportunities, constraints, and uncertainties of urban life? How do people create a sense of place, of community, or of urban identity? In addressing these questions, we will explore the core concepts and conceptual frameworks that anthropologists and sociologists use to understand lived experience in cities. Our study of social and cultural urban processes emphasizes the relationship of space to identity and power. The course examines aspects of identity, including race and ethnicity, gender, class, family, and citizenship. In each city, we will grapple with conflicts, struggles, and celebrations that are embedded in and emerge from specific historical, socio-economic, and political contexts. We will examine cities as physical and imagined spaces, exploring how spatial and social life are mutually shaped, and how the meanings of cities are multiple and contested by different groups and actors with often incompatible agendas. This course is taught by traveling faculty.
- Urban Politics and Development – syllabus
- (DVST3500 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- Cities are simultaneously centers of individual opportunity and civic engagement and sites of inequality and economic disparity. In this course students explore, question, and critique the intersection of politics and development in cities at multiple scales, from local to global, and examine how related institutions, policies, and processes shape the evolution of cities. This course examines a variety of structural elements and processes, including relationships between municipal and regional institutions, privatization, community development, economic growth, industrial restructuring, informal economy, and poverty and income distribution. We will pay particular attention to these guiding questions: What economic, social, and political factors (local, national, and international) shape the development/organization of cities? Who exercises power in cities and what are their sources of power? Whose voices are considered relevant in the discussion of what the city could be? In the Urban Politics and Development course, we will explore how and why urban development is a tension filled, conflictual process that occurs at multiple scales. This course is taught by traveling faculty.
- Contemporary Urban Issues – syllabus
- (URST3000 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This research and methods seminar is designed to give students the tools to identify and analyze challenges common to cities across continents and cultures, and to distinguish such challenges from others that are rooted in particular histories and human geographies. It is also focused on developing in students the ability to make meaningful comparisons, particularly concerning configurations of political, economic, and social power as they are manifested in urban space. Using these tools, students have an opportunity to pursue individual comparative research on topics of their own choosing. The course will be co-taught by all faculty and country coordinators to emphasize the multi-disciplinary analysis of issues and to integrate the experience-based learning of the semester. This course is taught by traveling and locally based faculty.
- Urban Planning and Sustainable Environments – syllabus
- (URST3500 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- Within cities we find key challenges to long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability; processes of exclusion and deepened inequalities are occurring at such a scale that new geographies of power and injustice arise. In this context, planning and socio-spatial practices have become key instruments to understanding and intervening in complex realities that require both physical and social comprehension. This course introduces key concepts about the history, theory, and practice of urban planning and sustainability. It emphasizes how the physical elements of cities are related to and interact with the social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of cities. This course is taught by locally based faculty.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
United States: New York
The program starts in arguably the most prominent “world” city in the United States. In New York, you will meet classmates and faculty and be introduced to field experiences by exploring neighborhoods, visiting nongovernmental organizations, meeting with actors from the private sector, and hearing from public officials. You will discuss local conditions and issues and discover that, while every city is local, it is also a piece of the global puzzle.
Brazil: São Paulo
Brazil gives you an excellent opportunity to see how participation, democracy, and a mobilized citizenry affect change. In multi-ethnic São Paulo, the largest urban area in South America, public infrastructure takes aggressive steps forward, but never seems to catch up to the expanding city’s growing needs. Land and water are plentiful, but how much is available to the secluded rich, the hard-working middle class, or the tenuous poor remains a question.
South Africa: Cape Town
In Cape Town, you will see how a society that was grossly unequal by design is attempting to transform itself into one that provides equal economic opportunity for all. You will meet with government leaders, social activists, and academics from local universities involved with Cape Town’s post-apartheid transformation.
Contrast the awe-inspiring beauty of Table Mountain and Cape Point, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans’ currents meet, and the charming cobblestone streets of the bustling Green Market Square with apartheid-legacy townships such as Langa, Khayelitsha, Joe Slovo Park, Guguletu, Nyanga, and the Cape Flats. Observe effective community radio stations, food cooperatives, informal traders, taxi companies, and the variety of small businesses, art, crafts, music, and vibrant personalities that make township culture thrive.
Ahmedabad, a city whose metropolitan area is approaching six million, is the largest in Gujarat, and is known for its leading role in industry and commerce. It is also known as the city in which Gandhi began his political work in India, established his ashrams, and built his struggle for freedom from colonial power.
After the city was founded in 1411, both Hindu and Islamic architecture flourished in the city’s mosques, gates, and temples. After independence, the city continued to strengthen its architectural traditions by inviting American architect Louis Kahn, French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, and Indian architects Charles Correa and Bernard Cohen to design several modern institutional and private spaces. In 2009, bus rapid transit was introduced in the city and has become one of the most advanced transportation systems in India.
Today, the city has become a major destination for foreign capital investment, particularly from the Persian Gulf, with which it has traded for centuries, and is frequently held up as an example of India’s successful efforts at globalization. Contemporary Ahmedabad represents a privileged place from which to analyze how global flows of people and capital intersect with cities whose built environments still encompass the early modern and medieval periods, and where social forms are as diverse as architectural styles.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.
Kelly Rosenthal, MSc, Program Director
Kelly trained as a social anthropologist at the University of Cape Town and the University of Oxford. Her work has focused on urban social movements, particularly in a comparative context between apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. She has focused on the struggle for socioeconomic rights and education as well as political culture and masculinities in Africa. Her fieldwork was supported by the Commonwealth Foundation and was conducted in the township of Soweto, Johannesburg, where she worked with a group of community organizers mobilizing against the privatization of water and electricity. Kelly has extensive teaching experience in social anthropology, having developed and taught courses on interdisciplinary research methods and the anthropology of development, politics, and medicine. She has also worked in the development world for many years, in the fields of education reform and advocacy. More recently, Kelly worked for a major private philanthropy foundation, managing a portfolio of grants to organizations working on education and child rights in sub-Saharan Africa. Kelly has a long association with this program, as both traveling faculty and local faculty. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and son.
Anna Gail Caunca, MA, Program Manager
Anna Gail holds a BS in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA in intercultural service, leadership, and management from SIT Graduate Institute. She also received her licensure in secondary education (social studies), incorporating social justice in the classroom. Anna Gail's work experience has focused on youth and young adult leadership development, community building, residential life and student welfare, international education, and human rights education. Building on her graduate studies in social justice and international education, Anna Gail worked with World Learning’s Youth Leadership and Peacebuilding Programs, facilitating workshops on current issues and youth activism with the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont and traveling with and supporting students through the LondonX and Iraqi Youth Leadership Program for two years. In 2013, she was the Trustees’ Fellow for the inaugural year of the IHP: Human Rights program. After four adventurous years living in Wellington, New Zealand, she became the IHP program manager in 2015.
Sonny Singh, MEd, Launch Coordinator, New York
Sonny received his master’s degree in social justice education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he practiced using education as a tool for liberation. Since moving to New York City, he has worked for the union UNITE HERE and was a community organizer at the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project and the Sikh Coalition and a humane education instructor with HEART. Sonny has written essays and articles on race, religion, and social justice for The Huffington Post, India Abroad, The Langar Hall, Colorlines, Sikh Chic, Left Turn, The Asian American Literary Review, and Open City Magazine. He was a 2014-15 Open City Fellow for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, covering stories in Richmond Hill, Queens. Sonny has been designing and facilitating workshops and classes on social justice for more than 15 years. He is a member of the training teams at Border Crossers, which trains educators on racial justice, and Race Forward. He is also a musician and tours with the Brooklyn-based bhangra brass band Red Baraat.
Glenda de la Fuente, MA, Country Coordinator, Brazil
Glenda holds a bachelor’s degree in translation and a postgraduate degree from King’s College, University of London, in applied linguistics and English language teaching. She was a professor for and coordinator of the extracurricular English program at the University of Buenos Aires, where she was in charge of teacher training courses. Since 1987, she has been a member of the Humanist Movement, serving as a lecturer and promoter of grassroots nonviolence and nondiscrimination groups in Argentina, Paraguay, Spain, and Brazil. Born in Argentina, she has lived for the last nine years in São Paulo, where she works as a freelance conference interpreter and translator and promotes humanist education programs with community-based groups. She has been a country coordinator with IHP since 2008.
Sally Frankental, PhD, Country Coordinator, South Africa
Sally is a sociocultural anthropologist who taught for many years at the University of Cape Town, where she directed the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research from 1980 to 1992. She was a founding member of the anti-apartheid organization Jews for Justice. Her current research interests are migration, identity, ethnicity, and citizenship. She has taught development and applied anthropology, supervised graduate students’ research projects, and been a consultant for the city of Cape Town. Her book South Africa’s Diverse Peoples (with Dr. Owen Sichone), commissioned as part of a series specifically for American university and public libraries, was published by ABC-CLIO in 2005. She has been with this program since 1999.
Sonal Mehta, MA, Country Coordinator, India
Sonal has a master’s degree in physics and a postgraduate diploma in space sciences. For the last three decades she has worked as a human rights activist, educator, and social organization builder. She has worked on several large-scale rehabilitation and social housing programs in the wake of major disasters in India and has played a key role in founding cooperatives of indigenous and urban poor women. She is currently director of Eklavya Foundation and is developing sustainable opportunities for an indigenous community of forest dwellers and bamboo workers in Gujarat. She is visiting faculty at Ahmedabad’s CEPT University and Gujarat’s Entrepreneurship Development Institute and has participated in and coordinated the World Social Forum at regional, national, and international levels. She is also actively involved with the International Women’s Movement.
Rutul Joshi, PhD, Lead Faculty
Rutul has taught urban planning at Ahmedabad’s CEPT University since 2006 and is one of the founding members of the university’s Centre for Urban Equity, which focuses on urban poverty, transport equity, and inclusive urban planning. Rutul is keenly interested in debating the issues of equity and sustainability within the in/formal urban planning practices of the Global South. His published research focuses on the politics of sustainable mobility and social in/exclusion. His doctoral research (completed in Bristol, UK) explored poverty and transport linkages for Indian cities that are witnessing contestations over space and resources. Rutul was closely associated with the urban planning process of the city of Surat for more than six years. He regularly writes newspaper columns and is a “sustainable mobility” enthusiast aspiring to build advocacy campaigns around safer streets and better walking/cycling facilities in Indian cities.
Dominique Somda, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Dominique Somda is a sociocultural anthropologist trained in France, where she received a PhD in anthropology from Université Paris Ouest Nanterre and a master’s degree in philosophy from Université Blaise Pascal. She taught anthropology as a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania and at Reed College. As a postdoctoral researcher, she held visiting positions at the Fondation Maisons des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris and at the London School of Economics. Her work focuses on how inequality—or conversely, egalitarianism—emerges through everyday practices. Her regional focus is Africa, specifically Madagascar. Dominique grew up between two cultures and in two countries (France and Benin).
Umud Dalgic, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Umud received his PhD from Northwestern University and lived in Chicago for seven years. After returning to Turkey, Umud worked as a project coordinator responsible for international politics programs in Heinrich Böll Foundation in Turkey. Currently, he teaches sociology at Ozyegin University, Istanbul, and does freelance translations into English. Umud is active in right-to-the-city, ecology, and struggle-for-the-commons movements. Outside of academia, he works in a meeting space for freelance workers, activists, and artists and in a consumer collective that buys produce in solidarity from the gardener families who maintain the historic gardens alongside Istanbul’s ancient city walls.
Sarah Tracy-Wanck, Trustees’ Fellow
Sarah, also known as “TW,” is an IHP alumna from New Haven, CT, where she is involved in food justice and community healing work as well as the fight for racial and economic justice. For five years she worked at New Haven’s Common Ground High School, where she developed and managed the Environmental Leadership Program, work propelled by the principle that all students have the power to be leaders of social and environmental change. TW graduated from Wesleyan University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and African American history. When not at work, TW heads to the ocean to go surfing.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will live with a host family for between two and four weeks at each program site, with the exception of the first location. Homestays are the primary form of accommodation on the program; other accommodations can include guest houses, hostels, dormitories, and/or small hotels.
Family structures vary in every place. For example, the host family may include a single mother of two small children or a large extended family with many people coming and going all the time. Please bear in mind that the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you expect. You will need to be prepared to adapt to a new life with a new diet, a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and expectations.
Country coordinators in each location arrange homestay placements. In most cases, students will be placed in homestays in pairs, with placements made to best accommodate health concerns, including allergies or dietary needs. You will not receive information about homestay families until you arrive in each country.
Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:
- Reporter for American Public Media’s Marketplace, Los Angeles, CA
- Program director at Helmsley Charitable Trust, New York, NY
- Director of cross agency partnerships at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Health Equity, New York, NY
- Executive director of LivableStreets Alliance, Cambridge, MA
- Analyst in the urban investment group at Goldman Sachs
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Content and logistics for field programs in San Francisco, Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Locally taught classes
- Comparative Issues in Food, Water, and Energy
- The Science and Policy of Climate Change
- Classes taught by traveling faculty
- Political Economy and Environmental History
- Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods
- Locally taught classes
- Guest lectures and panel discussions
- Site visit hosts and facilitators
- Transportation to classroom spaces and daily program activities
- All educational excursions to locations such as the Atlas Mountains, including all related travel costs
- Traveler’s health insurance throughout the entire program period
- Instructional materials
- Other direct program costs
Note: Break costs are not covered by program fees; students are responsible for this.
- Group airfare during the program
- Airfare includes a flight back to a city in the US at the conclusion of the program.
Room & Board: $4,500
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in all four countries, urban and rural stays, all excursions, and the final retreat. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays in Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
Domestic Airfare to Program Launch Site
Domestic airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $275
Books & Supplies: $150
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Break: $650 - $1,200
Please note: This is an estimated range based on student surveys from past semesters. Students' individual needs for their breaks will vary. For the entirety of the break period, students will be responsible for all of their expenses, including travel and room and board.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.
Speak With An Admissions Counselor
Contact A Former Student
These letters home are from previous terms. Site locations may vary from term to term.