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.
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.
Argentina: Buenos Aires
The cosmopolitan capital city of Buenos Aires has a history with an enduring legacy: European-influenced architecture, an extraction economy, large landowners, an influential Catholic church, charismatic political leadership and military dictatorships, a tradition of public protest, and a cultural heritage embedded in the tango. Underlying it all are the complex lives of a diverse society where former owners now work to survive and former workers now manage retaken factories.
Rising from poverty and isolation, Hanoi offers examples of rapid human adaptation and resilience. With decades of war all but vanished, a new paradigm of local identity and international connectivity is being tested. Tension grows between the use of public resources for community and environmental benefit or commercial development and private profit. Meanwhile, the basic form of the traditional city—dense, narrow, and vertical—invites examination of the use, purpose, and expectations of public space.
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.
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.
Sara Smith Sell, Launch Coordinator, New York
Sara is a 2012 alumna of this program and graduated with a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2013. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Sara moved to Yonkers, New York, in 2009 and has been engaged in community work in the area ever since. For the past three years, Sara has been working as the director of youth programs at Groundwork Hudson Valley. There, she managed after-school programs, summer employment programs, a farmers market, and 25 high school employees every year. Her work with youth focuses on leadership, community revitalization, job training, and group dynamics. She started a master’s in social work at Hunter College in fall 2017.
Carolina Rovetta, MA, Country Coordinator, Argentina
Carolina holds a five-year degree in arts from the University of Buenos Aires and a postgraduate degree in contemporary cinema and theater. She has been working in the field of international education for many years and designs academic and immersion programs in Argentina for students and institutions from abroad. She has written several pedagogical guides on cultural activities in immersion. She is also very interested in arts and culture and works as a cultural facilitator for the city of Buenos Aires. Carolina serves as an academic advisor for American students studying abroad in Argentina. She first began working with IHP in 2005 and helped establish the Cities in the 21st Century and Health and Community programs in Buenos Aires.
Cuong Kieu Nguyen, PhD, Country Coordinator, Vietnam
Cuong received a PhD in physics from Brown University in 2009 and a postdoctoral fellowship focusing on genomic technologies, research, and applications in the US National Institutes of Health, where he was key in the implementation of the ultra-high-throughput sequencing system utilizing Solexa/Illumina technologies and managed several sequencing projects. Since 2012, he has been a senior staff scie`ntist at the Institute of Population, Health, and Development, where he founded the Hanoi Center of Genome Research and has led innovative eHealth and mHealth projects utilizing electronic and mobile devices in collaboration with IDRC Canada, Grand Challenges Canada, USAID, Dartmouth College, UCLA, and Columbia. Cuong is also the director of VEH – Medical Investment and Communication, JSC, a local start-up with expertise in eHealth solutions and services.
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.
Nancy Odendaal, Lead Faculty
Nancy is associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of Cape Town. Her research areas include urban infrastructure, spatial planning, urban planning education, and technology and cities. In recent years, Nancy’s work on smart cities has led to collaborations in India and the UK. Her work at the African Centre for Cities on planning education involved expanding a network of universities across Africa that teach urban planning degrees and reexamining ways through which the training of planners can better respond to the challenges of African urbanization. She is the incoming chair of the Association of African Planning Schools and the chair of the Global Planning Education Association Network. She has published internationally on smart cities, spatial planning, and planning education and continues to act as a reviewer for leading urban journals.
Carmen Medeiros, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Carmen holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from the City University of New York. She specializes in Latin America with particular emphasis on critical development and postcolonial debates, indigenous movements and struggles for citizenship, and modern discourses on race and mestizaje. Currently, she teaches at the Graduate Institute for Development Research (CIDES–UMSA) in La Paz, Bolivia. As a member of a research collective in La Paz from 2012 to 2016, she conducted research and published three books on urban indigenous economic practices and their struggles over the meanings of citizenship. Before joining IHP, Carmen was the academic director of the SIT Study Abroad program in La Paz. Before settling in Bolivia in 2010, she taught at NYU´s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in New York; the Facultades Latinoamericanas de Ciencias Sociales in Ecuador; the Trent University in Ecuador Program; Wheaton College in Massachusetts; and the City University of New York. She has also been a consultant with Bolivian research centers and international development agencies.
Juan Manuel Arbona, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Juan trained as an urban designer and worked on several architectural projects in the US and Guatemala. His graduate work at Cornell University focused on urban political ecology (MRP) and urban political economy (PhD), with particular emphasis on Caribbean ecological and Andean urban systems. From 2002 to 2013, he was a professor at Bryn Mawr College, where he taught courses on cities of the developing world, urban theory, social movements, the right to the city, urban neoliberalism, and research design/methods. His research and publications have covered a wide range of issues from the informal/popular economy, neighborhood politics, and social mobilization to urban histories and ethnographies. His work has been published in several journals including Le Monde Diplomatique, Nueva Sociedad, Bulletin of Latin American Studies, GeoForum, Cities Journal, Journal of Latin American Studies, and the Harvard International Review. Between 2012 and 2016—as a member of a research collective—he co-authored three books on the economic logic and practices of Bolivia’s urban indigenous actors in the context of a changing national and international political economy.
Sharon Cromwell,Trustees’ Fellow
Sharon has over seven years of experience fighting for worker and immigrant rights and racial justice in Canada and the United States. She’s worked as a campaign lead and policy analyst at SEIU 32BJ, a labor union representing building service workers all along the US East Coast, and as a social worker at a supportive housing program for formerly homeless individuals. She has supported a variety of social justice organizations and movements as an activist, researcher, and organizer. Sharon received her BA in international development studies, economics, and international relations from McGill University in Quebec, Canada. She received a graduate certificate in labor studies from the City University of New York, Murphy Institute. When she's not organizing, Sharon loves traveling with family and friends. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
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.
Tuition: Not yet available.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Content and logistics for field programs in New York, Buenos Aires, Hanoi, and Cape Town
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Urban Planning and Sustainable Environments
- Culture and Society of World Cities
- Urban Politics and Development
- Contemporary Urban Issues
- Guest lectures and panel discussions
- Site visit hosts and facilitators
- Transportation to classroom spaces and daily program activities
- All educational excursions and final program retreat, 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 travel during the program
- This travel includes all flights and a flight back to a city in the US at the conclusion of the program, arranged by our travel agent.
Room & Board: Not yet available.
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, 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 Buenos Aires, Hanoi, and Cape Town
- 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:
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 bring a phone with them to their program.
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.
Contact A Former Student
These letters home are from previous terms. Site locations may vary from term to term.
Letters Home: Cities (Fall2)
- January 27, 2016
- IHP Cities in the 21st Century Track 2 Fall 2015 – Senegal
- Hi! We’ve had such a fun time here in Senegal, we’ve barely had a chance to contact you. We hope you aren’t missing all of us too much! We did so much in Senegal that it’s hard to pack it all into one letter! So, here are some highlights from some of the things we […]
- September 25, 2015
- IHP Fall 2015 Cities in the 21st Century: New York
- Dearest Friends and Family, Greetings from Buenos Aires, Argentina! We have been here an entire week now, and are more than excited to share with you some of our favorite and most memorable moments from our two weeks in New York City. Here we go! After months of planning and excitement, we landed […]
- December 15, 2014
- Letter Home from Hanoi, Viet Nam
- A Letter Home from students on the Fall 2014 Track 1 of IHP Cities in the 21st Century: Written by Dimitri Antoniou, Alina Aksiyote Benardete, Elena Crowe, and Cinneah El-Amin Photos by QiHan Wong and Anselmo Fuentes Xin chào từ Việt Nam! In this final month, we’ve reflected on the beauty and chaos of Hanoi […]
- December 1, 2014
- Letter Home from Dakar, Senegal
- A Letter Home from the Fall 2014 Cities in the 21st Century Track 2 Students: Nanga def from Senegal— hello from Senegal! The past month has been an entirely different experience from our time in Buenos Aires, Argentina. From weather to home stays, we had a month full of sunshine and new experiences. We’re grateful […]
- November 14, 2014
- Letter Home from Buenos Aires
- A letter home from Fall 2014’s IHP Cities in the 21st Century Track 2 Program: Hola from Argentina! These past four weeks have truly been an adventure for the group. Between joining our new homestays and learning about the rich culture through dance and food, we’ve found that Buenos Aires is more than just the “Paris of Latin […]