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South Africa

Social Justice & Activism Internship

Gain professional experience at a nonprofit organization, study apartheid, and understand the history, ideas, values, and practice of social justice in South Africa.

At a Glance





Courses taught in



Jun 16 – Aug 7

Program Countries

South Africa

Program Base

Cape Town

Critical Global Issue of Study

Peace & Justice


Why intern in South Africa?

Understand the dynamics of human rights advocacy and the history of apartheid from your base in Cape Town, a hub for human rights organizations in a country emerging from legally enforced racial discrimination and economic and political exclusion. Stay with a local family; be welcomed into their lives and share experiences and learn from their views. Visit important sites of oppression and resistance illustrative of the country’s unique history, and gain a better understanding of social justice issues affecting South Africa today. You will also learn the ethics of human rights advocacy and research during a five-week internship that will give you professional experience in an international setting. SIT uses our extensive networks to facilitate the placement process. Organizations we have worked with deal with issues including gender, community mobilization, public health, migration, media and advocacy and environmental sustainability. Attend weekly assessment meetings with your academic director or internship coordinator, and keep a work journal to reflect on your experiences, challenges, and professional achievements.


  • Explore the nuances of human rights movements and how they can change history.
  • Tour the island prison that held President Nelson Mandela and other activists.
  • Study apartheid’s history and social and economic impacts to the present day.
  • Build your résumé and professional experience in an internship that best matches your interests.



program map


Robben Island

Three former inmates of Robben Island’s prison went on to become president of South Africa, including the late Nelson Mandela, who was held there for 18 years. Learn about the lives and legacies of many political prisoners and detainees imprisoned on this island, such as human rights activist Robert Sobukwe. Located just off the coast of Cape Town, Robben Island is both a South African National Heritage Site, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The District Six Museum

Founded in 1994, this museum focuses on the forced removals of thousands from their homes due to their skin color in the District Six area (called “Distrik Ses” in Afrikaans). The museum is at the epicenter of apartheid Cape Town, highlighting the social movements and activism in the struggle against racial segregation through the Group Areas Act of 1955. The museum still offers activists a platform and a safe space to share their views and do their work, and remains involved in debates around restitution.

Other Sites

You will also visit culturally and historically important sites, such as the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum, Trojan Horse Memorial, Gugulethu 7 Monument and the Iziko National Museum’s Slave Lodge, which houses exhibitions about human rights activism of the past and present.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Reflect on South Africa’s political, economic, social, and cultural landscape from both historical and contemporary perspectives.
  • Assess the principles of social justice as applied to the case of South Africa.
  • Illustrate social justice issues and challenges in present-day South Africa.
  • Investigate the critical topic of social justice in the South African context for the purposes of understanding its relationship to reconciliation, justice, equity, development, and nation-building.
  • Apply theoretical principles of social justice with focus on the nature and scope of socioeconomic rights discourses, policies, and rhetoric in South Africa.
  • Reflect on the ethics of internship in the context of South Africa.
  • Synthesize the internship learning experience in the form of an internship paper and oral presentation.
  • Gain practical work experience in the context of social justice in South Africa.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


Access virtual library guide.

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 expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Reconciliation, justice, equity, development, and nation-building
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  • Apartheid, its effects, the anatomy of resistance and its aftermath
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  • South Africa’s political, economic, social, and cultural landscape
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  • Diverse perspectives of South African social justice and social activism
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  • Ethics of internship and learning across cultures

Social Justice and Social Change Seminar

Social Justice and Social Change Seminar – syllabus
(AFRS3000 / 3 credits)

Through lectures, discussions and excursions, you’ll gain a broad understanding of the historical background of South Africa’s Apartheid system, and how Apartheid shaped and continues to impact social policy and the visions for present South Africa. You’ll also examine anti-apartheid resistance and the post-1994 social justice movements, and look at contradictions and tensions between ideas, values and practice.

Internship and Seminar

Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

Internship and seminar in social justice and activism

Sample internships:

  • Supporting youth development through social behavioral change, education, and job creation at gold Youth Development Agency
  • Assisting job creation, media creation, or narrative projects related to human rights issues at the Human Rights Media Centre
  • Supporting the social cohesion, women’s rights, and refugee services offered by the Whole World Women Association
  • Work with youth in an after-school program at Just Grace and support their efforts for comprehensive community development through education and social services.
  • Learn about the challenges and practice of social entrepreneurship using tourism as a leverage for community development at Ikhaya le Langa



Live with isiXhosa-speaking families in Cape Town’s Langa Township, one of the oldest residential areas to emerge after the Urban Areas Act of 1923. Families typically consist of five to six members. The name Langa means “sun” but is derived from Langalibalele, a chief imprisoned at Robben Island for rebelling against the government. A planned town, Langa looks radically different from the informal settlements dotting Cape Town’s landscape. Here, you’ll find a vital community that values education and sports and has a strong Christian identity. You will commute to your internship from Langa each weekday. Weekends will be spent with your host families.

Bo Kaap

Stay with Afrikaans-speaking Coloured families during your second homestay. Some will be descendants of enslaved people brought from Asia and the coastal Islands of East Africa. Most, if not all, families will be practicing Muslims. Your family is likely to be fluent in English. You will commute to your internship from Bo Kaap each weekday. Weekends will be spent with your host families.

Faculty & Staff

South Africa: Social Justice & Activism Internship

Stewart Chirova, MS, MPS bio link
Stewart Chirova, MS, MPS
Academic Director
Tabisa Dyonase bio link
Tabisa Dyonase
Program Assistant

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

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