Explore the socioeconomic, political, and cultural dynamics of South Africa—a diverse country in transition—and enjoy unparalleled engagement with renowned activists, intellectuals, and political leaders in South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique.
Examine the history and dismantling of South Africa’s apartheid system and visions for the country’s future.
Engage with the local community as you focus on issues of memory, reconciliation, development, nation building, and South Africa’s social and political transformations in the more than 20 years after apartheid.
Choose between three different program tracks: journalism, internship, or independent research.
Learn from award-winning Round Earth Media journalists and partner with young South African journalists with Times Media Group to produce a feature for possible publication on the journalism track. OR Gain work experience and develop professional skills during an internship with a local South African organization. OR Conduct field research and write a substantial academic paper for the independent research track.
Receive isiZulu instruction.
As a language with many clicks, isiZulu is a fascinating and challenging language for English speakers to study. Develop speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction, with additional practice during the homestay. You will also learn about Zulu history and culture.
Explore the bustling and historic city of Durban, South Africa’s third-largest city.
Learn about Durban’s rich history of political activity, which includes contributions from leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi, John Dube, and Chief Albert Luthuli. Discover Durban’s great diversity, including the Zulu people, South Africa’s largest ethnic group; English-speaking whites; the largest population of South Asians outside of India and Pakistan; tens of thousands of African refugees; and African and Asian migrants from a range of countries.
Visit neighboring Swaziland and Mozambique.
Go on an eight-day excursion to neighboring Mozambique, focusing on its role in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle. On your way back, spend a few hours in Swaziland, which has pursued a different path in its own recent history of independence.
Experience three very different homestays in urban and rural settings.
See the Apartheid Museum, the Constitutional Court, and the Mandela House in Johannesburg.
Go on a safari in Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Development | Economy | Inequality
None. For the journalism track, strong writing skills and an interest in journalism are essential. A writing sample may be required as part of the admissions process.
Published Student Work
Published Student Work
- U.S. News, "South Africa's TV Drama"
Sealy McMurrey, University of Colorado, Boulder (text)
- USA Today, "South African 'slam' poet: She tells it like it is, and some don't want to hear it"
Alexa Cole, Davidson College (text)
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- The historical background of South Africa's apartheid system, the dismantling of that system, and emerging visions for post-apartheid South Africa
- Re-membering the past through individual and popular memory and the role of memory in healing the trauma of the past
- Reconciliation through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
- The evolution from the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) to a developmental state
- The role of civil society, education, and media in the goal of nation building
- The challenges of transition
- Gender and social change
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.
Memory and Reconciliation in South Africa – syllabus
(POLI3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
An interdisciplinary seminar conducted in English focusing on 1) the challenges of transition; 2) re-membering the past through individual and popular memory; and 3) the challenges and processes of reconciliation and the current state of the nation, through an exploration of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), among other approaches, in a fledgling democracy. The course aims 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 visions for post-apartheid South Africa; the political, economic, and social structure of the future South Africa; and the role of memory in healing the trauma of the past.
Development, Transformation, and Nation Building – syllabus
(SDIS3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
An interdisciplinary seminar conducted in English focusing on 1) development in South Africa; 2) nation building explored through education and the media in South Africa; and 3) gender and social change. A central premise of this course is the interconnected nature of issues of development and nation building in South Africa; as such, when focusing in the first instance upon issues of development, students will also consider how the issue impacts and is shaped by specific patterns of nation building. Core themes addressed in this course include the evolution from the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) to a developmental state, and the role of civil society, education, and media in the goal of nation building.
isiZulu – syllabus
(ZULU1003 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Emphasis is on beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. The course aims to develop conversational abilities in isiZulu and provide greater insight into various aspects of Zulu culture through discussions and excursions.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will choose one of the following three tracks:
Field Ethics of Journalism in South Africa – syllabus
(JOUR3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course provides students with the necessary background in the highest standards of journalism ethics, both conceptual and experiential, to prepare them to produce a major feature story in South Africa. In addition to two introductory modules on the context of fieldwork in South Africa, the course includes a module on a) journalism ethics, b) an overview of laws affecting the practice of journalism in South Africa and the legal milieu in which journalists in South Africa operate, c) ongoing reporting assignments, and d) pitching a professional story on an important issue in the South Africa. This becomes the subject of the student's Independent Study Project in Journalism (ISPJ).
Independent Study Project in Journalism (ISPJ) – syllabus
(ISPJ3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
The Independent Study Project in Journalism is conducted in an approved location in South Africa appropriate to the story being covered. Students execute a full-length feature (in the media format in which they have the most experience), which will be considered for publication or broadcast in the US and South Africa. Students have the rare opportunity to work in partnership with early-career journalists at The Times Media Group in Cape Town and Johannesburg and alongside journalists affiliated with Round Earth Media. In this way, professional journalists provide students with hands-on advice and mentoring at every stage of story development.
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
Internship – syllabus
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
A course in the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. The seminar provides an introduction to an Independent Study Project or internship and related material, including cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a field journal.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Durban or in another approved location appropriate to the project. Students may choose to complete either a research-based or practicum-based Independent Study Project, the former being a traditional research paper and the latter emerging from a practicum with an affiliated organization working in social and/or political transformation. Sample topic areas: HIV/AIDS in South Africa; peace efforts in KwaZulu-Natal; democracy as defined by South Africans; education policy reform and implementation; the prison system in South Africa; independent churches and religion; the role of online media content in South Africa; trade unions and their alliance with the African National Congress; township jazz and political resistance; Islam and Durban's Indian community in contemporary South Africa; land reform; Zulu traditional healing and Western medicine; Afrikaner identity.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
The program moves around extensively. All students get to spend time in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Swaziland, and Mozambique. Journalism track students get to spend additional time in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
In and around Durban
The program is based in Durban, the site of one of Africa’s busiest working harbors and among the most cosmopolitan of South African cities with its rich fusion of African, Western, and Asian influences. Parts of the city have transformed into distinct Ethiopian, Congolese, Malawian, Pakistani, Chinese, and other enclaves with a variety of shops and restaurants. From this base, you will experience multiple short excursions.
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.
During the Johannesburg excursion, you will spend time at the following sites:
- The Apartheid Museum
- The Constitutional Court, Soweto — where you will visit the Hector Pieterson Museum
- The Mandela House — the former home of Nelson and Winnie Mandela
An excursion to Mozambique will give you 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, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, and the Frelimo Party School, including a discussion with the head of the school, Dr. Arlindo Chilundo, 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 week six of the program, you will live with families in the Amacambini Reserve for 10 to 12 days. During this excursion, you will engage in a special educational program with the graduating class at Amatikulu High School.
Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve
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.
Program in a minute-ish
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Imraan Buccus, PhD Fellow, Academic Director
Imraan 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). He is currently a PhD fellow at UKZN’s School of Politics, where he has also been a lecturer. He is widely published in academic journals and book chapters and is the former editor of the journal Critical Dialogue and the current editor of Democracy Dialogue. 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.
During apartheid, Imraan was active in student politics. 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. Imraan worked as academic coordinator at Workers’ College, a progressive college for trade union members. He was involved in multiple 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 led a project to assess participatory democracy in Namibia.
Bryan Stone, BA, isiZulu Language Instructor
Bryan joined SIT as a language instructor in 2013. He completed his BA in isiZulu and psychology in 2010 and received a diploma in jazz in 2013 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he has also taught isiZulu. Bryan has lived in Durban since 2009. 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 Haricharan, Office Manager and Homestay Coordinator
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, PhD, Academic Coordinator
Scott has lived and worked in South Africa for fifteen years as an ordained Congregationalist pastor and academic. He received a BA in international relations from The American University’s School for International Service in Washington, DC; an MA in divinity from the University of Chicago; and a PhD in history from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has studied and worked in Chile, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Ghana, the United States, and South Africa. Scott 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. He wrote the first substantive biography on Albert Luthuli (2010) and is completing his second book on the history of Inanda Seminary. He is married to Susan Valiquette, chaplain of the historic Inanda Seminary, and has two teenage children.
The program also draws on a number of guest lecturers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the NGO sector. Lecturers include:
Kiru Naidoo, Lecturer, ISP Advisor
Kiru 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.
Michael Sutcliffe, PhD, Lecturer, ISP Advisor
Michael 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 for nine years. He 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, LLB, Lecturer, ISP Advisor
Janine 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. As an ISP advisor, she has mentored several SIT students to research awards and publication of their ISPs.
Nthabiseng Motsemme, PhD, Lecturer, ISP Advisor
Nthabiseng is the director of Postgraduate and Research Capacity Development at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She has also been a researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research and a lecturer at the University of the Western Cape. She was 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 sits on a number of editorial boards for academic journals, including African Identities, Africa Education Review, and Feminist Legal Studies.
Geoff Waters, MA, Lecturer
Geoff has a master’s degree in economics from Manchester University in the UK and has been a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has expertise in qualitative social research methodology, 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.
Additional lecturers include:
- Professor Chris Ballantyne on music and resistance in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa
- David Ntseng on the issue of public housing, service delivery, and the empowerment of the poor in South Africa
- Professor Percy Mabogo, South Africa’s foremost Bikoist, on the role of Steve Biko in South Africa’s transformation
- Aziz Pahad, former minister of foreign affairs, on South Africa’s foreign policy
- Judge Chris Nicholson, the judge who presided over President Jacob Zuma’s trial, on the state of South Africa’s constitution
- Dr. Cathy Oelofse on the environment and development in South Africa
- Dr. Brendon Boyce on land reform and restitution in South Africa
- Richard Dobson and Charles Mncube on the informal trade sector in South Africa
- Dr. Ben Roberts on the South African economy
I can’t begin to express how much I learned during my time on this program.
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.
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 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 homestay, 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 10- to 12-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.
You will live in Newlands, approximately 20 kilometers from Durban’s city center, with an Indian or Coloured family for approximately two weeks.
During the last four weeks of the program, many students remaining in Durban choose to stay in beachfront apartments. Other accommodations during the program may include hostels, private homes, or small hotels.
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
The Independent Study Project (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.
Sample ISP topic areas:
- Peace efforts in KwaZulu-Natal
- Democracy as defined by South Africans
- Education policy reform and implementation
- HIV/AIDS in South Africa
- The prison system in South Africa
- Independent churches and religion
- Trade unions and their alliance with the African National Congress
- African refugee communities in Durban
- Township jazz and political resistance
- The role of online media content in South Africa
- Zulu traditional healing and Western medicine
- Afrikaner identity
- Islam and Durban’s Indian community in contemporary South Africa
- Political violence in KwaZulu-Natal
ISP in Journalism
ISP in Journalism
The program’s journalism track gives you the opportunity to identify, research, and execute a full-length feature on a topic of your choosing. Under the expert guidance of journalists from Round Earth Media and Times Media Group, you will learn how to:
- identify original stories, determining newsworthiness and interest to a global audience;
- research your stories, questioning deeply and staying alert to bias;
- find sources, gain their trust, and conduct interviews in an unfamiliar country and culture;
- organize a story, striving for balance and clarity and avoiding clichés;
- craft accessible, flowing prose along with images and, in some cases, sound;
- respond to an editor’s feedback, check facts, and rework and rewrite; and
- report in a manner that adheres to the highest standards of journalism.
In partnership with journalists at Round Earth Media and Times Media Group, you will engage in ongoing reporting assignments in the media format in which you have the most experience—print, video, audio, photography, and/or multimedia. In addition, you will collaborate with early-career South African journalists working at Cape Town’s Daily Dispatch and Johannesburg’s Sunday Times to report a major feature story.
Sample story topics:
- Student leadership and the “fees must fall” protests
- How racism persists—and does not persist—in South Africa
- How indigenous South African music is resisting Western influences
- Exploring “deracialization” and “re-racialization” in a free South Africa
- Mandela-inspired leadership in civil society
- Challenges of providing housing to 12 million people living in extreme poverty
- Protecting native plants in a unique South African ecosystem
Your feature may ultimately be considered for publication in South Africa via Times Media Group outlets and in US news outlets with which Round Earth Media works. These outlets include The New York Times, Al Jazeera, USA Today, Newsweek, National Public Radio, and many more.
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.
Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:
- Researcher for the Special Rapporteur for Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Memphis, TN
- Researcher at ACCORD (Africa Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes), Durban, South Africa
- Policy Specialist at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability, Washington, DC
- Researcher at National Geographic, Washington, DC
- Manager at Open Society Foundation, London, UK
The four-week internship provides you with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with an organization in Durban. You will have the option of choosing an SIT-arranged internship or seeking out your own opportunity (with approval from the academic director). The scope of the internship will depend greatly on the nature of the organization and may deal with local, national, or international issues, on topics as diverse as civil society, conflict resolution, urban planning, gender equity, racial discrimination, education, and public policy.
In addition to completing the internship, you will submit a paper that describes, assesses, and analyzes your learning. The paper will also outline the tasks you completed throughout the internship, knowledge you acquired, professional relationships you developed, and challenges you encountered and how you overcame them.
- Assisting creative solutions to challenges posed by conflict at ACCORD (African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes), Africa’s largest conflict resolution NGO, specializing in conflict management, analysis, and prevention through mediation, negotiation, training, and research
- Promoting and developing inclusive urban planning and design at Asiye eTafuleni
- Supporting research, public education, and legislative initiatives at the South African Commission on Gender Equality
Speak With An Admissions Counselor
Contact A Former Student
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:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Memory and reconciliation
- Development and nation building
- Research Methods and Ethics training in preparation for the Independent Study Project or internship or Field Ethics of Journalism in South Africa in preparation for the Independent Study Project in Journalism
- Intensive language instruction in isiZulu
- All educational excursions to locations such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, rural KwaZulu-Natal, and a game reserve, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project, internship, or Independent Study Project in Journalism (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $2,800
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Durban), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays (five weeks with isiZulu-speaking families in Cato Manor, two weeks with Coloured or Indian families in Newlands, and a 10- to 12-day rural homestay with isiZulu-speaking families in Amacambini)
- 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.
Visa Expenses: $348
Books & Supplies: $250
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.