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Through coursework and community engagement, you will focus on issues of memory, reconciliation, development, and nation building as they relate to South Africa’s social and political transformations in the 20 years after apartheid. The program includes multiple excursions, including a comparative visit to neighboring Mozambique, which played a significant role in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and has pursued a different path in its own recent history of independence.
I can't begin to express how much I learned — both academically and personally — during my time on this program. I applied many of the concepts that I learned to my senior thesis — recently awarded the Johns Hopkins' Arthur Kouguell Memorial Prize — and my experiences on the Durban docks continued to serve as a major asset during all of my job interviews. My time spent interacting with members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union truly changed my life, and there is no doubt in my mind that my stories from within the Port of Durban will continue to help me as I work in America's labor movement.
Benjamin Mays, Johns Hopkins University
The program's complementary components — thematic lectures, hands-on experiential learning, isiZulu language instruction, field excursions, and homestays — illuminate South Africa's complexity and diversity, its poverty and richness, in both historical and contemporary contexts.
The program is based in South Africa's third-largest city, the bustling and historic city of Durban. Durban is the site of one of Africa's busiest working harbors and is among the most cosmopolitan of South African cities with its rich fusion of African, Western, and Asian influences. Durban and the province of KwaZulu-Natal are home to the Zulu people, South Africa's largest ethnic group; English-speaking whites, many the descendants of British settlers; the largest population of South Asians outside of India and Pakistan, including Hindu, Muslim, and Christian communities; tens of thousands of African refugees; and African and Asian migrants from a range of countries. Parts of the city have transformed into distinct Ethiopian, Congolese, Malawian, Pakistani, Chinese, and other enclaves with a diversity of shops and restaurants.
You will learn about Durban and KwaZulu-Natal's rich history of political activity, which includes contributions from leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi, John Dube, and Chief Albert Luthuli. Durban was the foundation of organizations such as the African National Congress and the Natal Indian Congress.
A significant highlight of the program is the isiZulu language instruction, complemented by discussions of Zulu history and culture. As a language with many clicks, isiZulu is a fascinating and challenging language for English speakers to study. The course emphasizes beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction, with additional practice available during the homestay.
In the final month of the program, you will complete an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides you with an opportunity to pursue a research-based project of original research on a situation or topic of particular interest to you or a practicum-based project developed with an affiliate organization working in social and/or political transformation. Projects are conducted in Durban or, with program approval, in another location appropriate to your topic.
Topics from recent programs have included:
In this interdisciplinary program, lectures and discussions in the Social and Political Transformation seminar aim to provide students with a solid grasp of the historical background of South Africa's apartheid system; contemporary developments leading to the dismantling of that system; the role of memory in reconciliation; the visions for post-apartheid South Africa; the political, economic, and social structure of the future South Africa; and both anthropological and cultural approaches to understanding South African society. A central premise of the program’s two thematic seminars is the interconnected nature of issues of reconciliation and development in South Africa. The Research Methods and Ethics seminar addresses culturally appropriate, ethical field methodologies, in preparation for the Independent Study Project (ISP), while isiZulu language study opens windows into the cultural base and theme of the program.
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.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Educational excursions are an integral part of the program. Designed to directly complement learning conducted in the classroom, excursions give you the opportunity to explore South Africa's socioeconomic complexity, diversity, and natural beauty in greater depth.
In the greater Durban area, you will visit and interact with the residents of an informal shack dwellers settlement. You will also visit an informal African traders market (including a traditional bead market), an ecotourism project, a center for jazz and popular music, the University of KwaZulu-Natal campus, and several local high schools. You will also visit the Luthuli Museum, the former home of the first African Nobel Peace Prize winner, Chief Albert Luthuli, and the Phoenix Settlement, the former Durban home of Mohandas Gandhi, now a museum.
During the Johannesburg excursion, you will spend time at the following sites:
An excursion to Mozambique will give you with a firsthand opportunity to learn of the shared histories of South Africa and Mozambique, with a focus on the key collaborative role played by Mozambique’s ruling party — Frelimo — in the liberation struggle against apartheid following its own hard-fought independence movement from Portugal in the 1970s.
You will learn of the African National Congress’s military wing — Umkhonto we Sizwe — and its bases of operations throughout Mozambique, witness the physical effects of the South African apartheid government’s attacks in the capital, Maputo, and meet key individuals and institutions, with a view toward the shared, but divergent, project of political transformation in both countries.
Excursions in and around Maputo typically include visits to museums, sites of ANC armed struggle, and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, and a discussion at the Frelimo Party School with Dr. Arlindo Chilundo, the head of the school, a fighter on the frontlines during Mozambique’s liberation war, and currently Mozambique’s minister of education. Read more about the relationship between South Africa and Mozambique in a column in Durban’s Independent Online by Imraan Buccus, academic director of this program.
In week six of the program, you will undertake a ten- to twelve-day rural homestay during which you will live with families in the Amacambini Reserve, about a 90-minute drive north of Durban. During this excursion, you will engage in a special educational program with the graduating class at Amatikulu High School.
You will visit the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, one of the largest and oldest game reserves in South Africa, where, with luck, you may spot the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and black and white rhinoceros) as well as giraffes and zebras.
During the evaluation period, the program visits Cape Town, where you will typically visit Robben Island and Table Mountain. You may also have some time to explore the city on your own.
Mr. Buccus has an undergraduate degree in education and a master’s degree in social policy from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa. During the period of apartheid, he was active in student politics, having served on forums linked to the Student Representative Council (SRC). He began his PhD as a Ford Fellow in development studies at Radboud Nijmegen University in the Netherlands and is currently a PhD fellow at UKZN. He has been a lecturer in political science at UKZN and is currently a research fellow in the university’s School of Politics. He is widely published in academic journals and book chapters in the areas of participatory democracy, poverty, and civil society. Mr. Buccus is the former editor of Critical Dialogue, a journal of public participation in review, and the current editor of Democracy Dialogue.
Mr. Buccus has experience in the civil society sector, having served in research and policy NGOs for many years. He was involved in a number of international research projects and co-authored the National Framework on Public Participation for the South African government. During his time at the Centre for Public Participation, he led an initiative to bring policymaking spaces closer to ordinary people and also led a project to assess the state of participatory democracy in Namibia. He has wide-ranging experience working with various donor agencies including the Ford Foundation, NiZA, EU, Kellogg Foundation, and the Open Society Foundation.
Mr. Buccus has worked as academic coordinator of the Workers College, a progressive experiential education college for workers from the trade union movement, where he developed a passion for experiential education and its personal and academic developmental potential. In 2008, he was an Open Society Foundation Media Fellow, and in 2009 he appeared on the prestigious Mail & Guardian list of South Africa’s 200 Leading Young South Africans. He is currently a columnist for Durban’s popular paper Mail & Guardian and is often called upon by television and radio stations to offer political analysis. In 2011, he was part of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s team of election analysts.
Mr. Buccus has traveled extensively in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. He has also served as academic director of various SIT Study Abroad summer programs since 2010, having run both SIT’s World Cup program in 2010 and, since 2011, SIT’s summer Education and Social Change program.
Bryan joined SIT as a language instructor in 2013 and brings a wealth of experience to the Social and Political Transformation program. He completed his BA in isiZulu and psychology in 2010 and received a diploma in jazz in 2013 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has also taught isiZulu for the past three years at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College, Westville, and medical school campuses.
Bryan has lived in Durban since 2009 and loves Durban for its “laidback” lifestyle. He is trying to learn how to surf, and is called Zamani (which means “try”) by his Zulu friends. Growing up, he moved around a lot and experienced the many corners of South Africa during several family vacations. He also plays the drums for The Sir Walrus Band.
Shola currently serves as the program's office manager and homestay coordinator. She has been vital to the program in various capacities since its inception in 1992. Prior to that, Shola worked in administrative capacities with a number of nongovernmental groups, some of them active in the anti-apartheid struggle.
Scott Couper has lived and worked in South Africa for fifteen years as an ordained Congregationalist pastor and academic. He is married to Susan Valiquette, chaplain of the historic Inanda Seminary, and has two teenage children.
Couper is currently a senior honorary lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics), an adjunct lecturer at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (faculty of systematic theology and history), and the resident historian at Inanda Seminary. Couper attended undergraduate school at The American University’s School for International Service in Washington, DC (BA in international relations), the University of Chicago (MA in divinity), and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (PhD in history). Couper has studied and worked in Chile, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the Kingdom of Lesotho, Ghana, the United States, and South Africa. Couper’s studies in Nigeria and Zimbabwe were with SIT Study Abroad. Couper wrote the first, and still the only, substantive biography on Albert Luthuli (2010) and is completing his second book on the history of Inanda Seminary. Couper’s intellectual passion is the fusion of history (biographical), political science (current events), and issues of faith and spirituality (ecumenical and interfaith).
Couper enjoys travel, long-distance running (five, going on six, Comrades ultramarathons), reading, watching rugby, and hosting friends for a braai.
Kiru Naidoo studied political science and development at the universities of Durban-Westville and Cambridge. He also has expertise in marketing and communications. He has been the director of public affairs at UDW and senior manager for communications in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government. He has also held positions at the universities of Natal and Durban-Westville, Durban University of Technology, National Research Foundation, and the South Africa-Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development. Kiru is a valued member of the SIT family, as lecturer and ISP advisor.
Michael Sutcliffe has an MSc from the University of Natal and a PhD in city planning from Ohio State University. He was appointed chairperson of South Africa’s Demarcation Board in the post-apartheid order by President Mandela and was Durban’s city manager, or mayor, for nine years. Dr. Sutcliffe played a significant role in the country’s anti-apartheid struggle and is widely recognized as an influential member of the African National Congress, the ruling party in South Africa.
Janine Hicks is a senior commissioner with South Africa’s Commission on Gender Equality. She holds a master’s in development studies from the University of Sussex and an LLB from the former University of Natal, Durban. She has more than two decades of experience working with South African civil society and educational institutions, and is widely published in the areas of participatory democracy, gender issues, and access to education for women in South Africa. She is a dedicated member of the SIT family and, as ISP advisor, has mentored several SIT students to research awards, and publication of their ISPs.
Nthabiseng is the director of Postgraduate and Research Capacity Development at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She has also held positions at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) as a researcher and at the University of the Western Cape as a lecturer. She was also the manager of the university-wide funding and research capacity program for young, black, and female researchers and the Women-in-Research Initiative at the University of South Africa Research Directorate. She currently sits on a number of editorial boards for academic journals, including African Identities, Africa Education Review, and Feminist Legal Studies. Her research interests include African feminist and womanist theories, township women’s identities, and women’s experiences in higher education.
Geoff has a master’s degree in economics from Manchester University (UK) and has been a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Natal (now UKZN). He has expertise in social research methodology (qualitative), urban life and culture, and rural community life. His research interests include homeless people of the inner city, street children in central Durban, and retirement communities.
You will experience three different homestays on the program, each of which opens a larger window into South Africa's extraordinary diversity and complexity. Homestays are in urban, suburban, and rural areas. In each of the homestays, you will be either in neighborhood clusters or placed with families in pairs.
The program's first homestay is with isiZulu-speaking families in Cato Manor, an urban township about five kilometers from the SIT facility in Durban. You will spend approximately five weeks with your own family, within a quarter of a mile of other students, and within a mile of the whole group. The homestay in Cato Manor gives you the opportunity to practice isiZulu and gain an appreciation for the richness and challenges of township life. All houses have cell phone reception, flush toilets, and electricity and are constructed of cinder brick.
In the ten- to twelve-day rural homestay in Amacambini, about 100 kilometers north of Durban, conditions are basic, with some marked differentiation between households. Some households may not have electricity, indoor plumbing, or piped water.
During the program's third homestay, you will live in Newlands with an Indian or Coloured family for approximately two weeks. Newlands is approximately 20 kilometers from Durban’s city center.
During the ISP period, many students remaining in Durban choose to stay in apartments at the beachfront, which underwent a stunning renovation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Other accommodations during the program may include hostels, private homes, or small hotels.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.
The dates listed above are tentative. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.
Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.
Application Deadline: Nov 1, 2015
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International 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.
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
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.