SIT South Africa: Social and Political Transformation is a field study program designed to investigate issues of inequality, poverty, and racial, ethnic, and gender-based discrimination in South Africa. When Nelson Mandela cast his vote in Durban in 1994, South Africa's system of legislated apartheid receded into history. However, the country continues to struggle with discrimination and poverty. Students explore reconciliation and development through lectures, discussion, field-based activities, and excursions to rural KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town. Though the coursework will be in English, students have the opportunity to learn Zulu.
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Students will be enrolled in four courses during the semester: Social and Political Transformation Seminar, Introductory Language Study: Zulu, Field Study Seminar and the Independent Study Project (ISP). Students take most of their courses either at the SIT office site or occasionally at the Howard Campus of the Unviersity of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The ISP gives students the unique opportunity to apply their learning from the previous semester to an independent field based research project supervised by a local advisor.
The program base of Durban is a fusion of African, Western, and Eastern influences. It is home to, among others, the Zulu nation, as well as descendants of British settlers, indentured Indian laborers, and traders. Students complete at least one week of service learning in Durban with affiliate grassroots nongovernmental organizations. Some students opt to extend this practical experience by completing an internship as part of their Independent Study Projects. Please carefully consdier, that a relationship with an internship organization during the ISP can both help and hinder the production of the ISP.
SIT programs emphasize learning by experiencing, and therefore students will participate in several educational excursions to places such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, southern and northern KwaZulu-Natal among others.
Because of the highly mobile nature of the program, students will stay in a variety of different places. Students spend the first portion of the program living in the township of Cato Manor. Students are able to practice Zulu in the homestay family environment. Thereafter students do a short rural homestay. The third homestay involves living with a middle class Indian family in Durban. During the ISP period, students generally opt to stay in Durban renting short term apartments together.
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All students should consult the OGP eligibility page to ensure that they meet all specific academic requirements for each school (CC, GS, SEAS) to study abroad.
There is a two-part application process for this program: an internal Columbia approval process called 'clearance' and an external admission application submitted directly to this program. Click "Start an Application" above for instructions and to begin.