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Study Abroad in South Africa with Sociology

March 16, 2018

Applications due 4/1

The Global Education Office, the African American Studies Department, the Sociology Department, and the School of World Studies are pleased to offer a unique service-learning opportunity for students to explore the challenges facing rural communities in democratic South Africa. The program begins in Pretoria and Soweto/Johannesburg, the epicenter of Apartheid resistance, followed by extensive travel through rural KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) - Pietermaritzburg, St. Lucia, Eshowe, Ulundi, Maputaland, and Manguzi, culminating in the city of Durban, the economic capital of KZN. The course will conclude in Namibia, a nation-state also ruled by Apartheid, where we will study parallel resistance movements, culture, health and education. Special emphasis is placed on a comparative analysis of life in post-Apartheid South Africa with post-Civil Rights Richmond VA, using a Participatory Action (PAR) framework and service learning through which students will work with and alongside South African youth, health providers, mental health practitioners, community health workers, local and provincial government leaders and community members, to examine the nature of resilience in South Africa and Richmond VA, two communities affected by a historical transition from racial segregation to inclusive democracy.

During this 28 or 14 day study abroad experience students will travel throughout the province of KZN, staying in mainly rural and remote locations not often visited by western travelers. Students will engage in  a variety of service learning projects focused on education and health/well-being.  In Maputaland, students will participate in an organized service activity by working on a project assisting Zulu schoolchildren, many of them orphaned by the AIDS pandemic, students will also have the opportunity to shadow community health workers in Manguzi and assist in the organization and facilitation of a traditional medicine workshop sponsored by VCU and local leaders and health care professionals in St. Lucia. We will also be working with local educators, community members and youth to develop mindfulness and reflection programs in schools in rural KZN (Eshowe, Ulundi, Manguzi, Groutville) and urban areas/townships (Inanda, Umlazi). Through family homestays (optional), seminars with local leaders/organizations, and participation in daily life in Zululand, students will also learn about Zulu traditional customs, religious ceremonies, traditional medicine/healing, and ritual performances. This study-abroad program not only meets locally-identified needs, but also takes participating students on an experiential journey into an exciting field of global responsibility and emerging democracy in South Africa.

Course and credit options

Students can enroll in one to three (depending on enrollment in either 14 day option or 28 day option) of the following courses:

  • AFAM 391 Contemporary Social Challenges in Rural SA , 3 undergraduate credits, Mr. Mthethwa
  • INTL 398 Contemporary Social Challenges in Rural SA , 3 undergraduate credits, Mr. Mthethwa
  • ANTH 391 Contemporary Social Challenges in Rural SA , 3 undergraduate credits, Mr. Mthethwa
  • SOCY 406 Senior Capstone Sociology, 3 undergraduate credits, Dr. Bodnar-Deren
  • SOCY 391 Comparative Rural Global Health, 3 undergraduate credits, Dr. Bodnar-Deren
  • SOCY 691 Comparative Rural Global Health, 3 graduate credits, Dr. Bodnar-Deren
  • SOCY 445 Medical Sociology, 3 undergraduate credits, Dr. Bodnar-Deren

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