South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights
- How to Choose a Program
- View SIT Study Abroad Undergraduate Research / ISP Collection
- View the 2013 Overview Brochure (PDF, 1MB)
- View the 2013 Semester Catalog (PDF, 4MB)
- View the 2013 Summer Catalog (PDF, 1MB)
- View Our Photo Galleries on Flickr
- Academic Resources/Library
- Track Your Application Online
- US State Department "Students Abroad"
- SIT Study Abroad Gear
Share in an important time in South Africa’s history
On April 27, 2010 South Africa celebrated its 16th Freedom Day, commemorating the transition to democracy. South Africa has made great strides in righting the wrongs of an unjust system, but significant challenges remain. South Africa is striving to implement a very progressive national constitution, restructure local governments, have all levels of government working to one cohesive end, deliver basic services to all communities, and come to terms with a high rate of societal violence and a still uneasy racial divide. Students on this program explore these issues, meet inspiring individuals and organizations making a difference across South Africa, and contemplate the country’s future path.
Live and study in Cape Town (program base)
Students spend the first four weeks of the program in Cape Town living in a township called Langa. Primarily Xhosa-speaking, Langa was one of many areas designated for black South Africans and is one of the oldest townships in the country. Settlements in apartheid South Africa where populated not only according to race but also ethnicity. This was a deliberate policy by the state to control South Africans using the ‘divide and rule’ tactic.
The SIT classrooms and office are located in the southern suburb of Rondebosch, also the site of the University of Cape Town. Students spend an additional 14 days in Cape Town during the ISP preparation period and the Bo Kaap homestay period. Depending on where a student conducts his or her ISP, the total time spent in the Cape Town area could be 10 weeks.
Multiculturalism has long been a defining characteristic of Cape Town, and the program takes advantage of the multiple resources the city offers. During the mid 20th century, the population of Cape Town had reached approximately half a million, of which whites were less than half. Economic hardship and racial discrimination encouraged policies that favored whites; this created economic and cultural differences that steadily split the population along racial lines. Immigrants, colored and black groups struggled to define their identity and respond to this discrimination. Meanwhile Afrikaner nationalism grew stronger in Cape Town and beyond, leading to a growing right-wing movement.
Through monuments and new institutions, Cape Town has asserted itself as a cultural center of South Africa and is commonly known as 'Mother City' of the nation.
Explore South Africa’s multiple identities through firsthand experiences
The program engages deeply with South Africa’s history of multiculturalism and Apartheid, but also focuses on ethnic identities today and how those are reflected on national, regional, local, and individual levels. The program includes four different homestays so that students can immerse themselves in South Africa’s different cultures.
Students receive intensive language instruction in Xhosa, focusing on beginning speaking and comprehension skills. This allows students to more meaningfully engage with Xhosa-speaking communities. A tonal language with click consonants, Xhosa is spoken widely across South Africa, and students can practice their new skills during their first (and longest) homestay in Langa.
In addition to Xhosa, students receive introductory instruction in Afrikaans.
Independent Study Project
Students spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursing original research on a selected topic of interest to them. The ISP is conducted in Cape Town or in another approved location appropriate to the project.
Sample topic areas include:
- Equity in education
- Affirmative action issues
- The role of Afrikaans in a multilingual society
- Xhosa women in contemporary South African society
- Socioeconomic realities of HIV/AIDS
- Student politics and university life
- Hate speech, racism, and freedom of expression
- The role of religion in social change
- The police, law, and social justice
- Microenterprise and the new South Africa
- Individual verses group identity
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: South Africa, Cape Town
Language Study: Afrikaans, Xhosa
View Student Evaluations for this program: