Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
The SIT Multiculturalism and Human Rights program focuses on South Africa's ethnic diversity. In a typical semester, students complete four homestays in Cape Town - each providing the opportunity to meet and interact with South Africans from different geographic and ethnic backgrounds. The strong emphasis on the homestay as experiential learning complements lectures, discussions, field-based assignments, and excursions to provide a multidisciplinary analysis of the country. Students gain knowledge of the historical background of South Africa's apartheid system, insight into socio-cultural issues and an understanding of the political, economic, and social structure future of South Africa.
South Africa has made great strides in righting the wrongs of the past, but significant challenges remain. The country is striving to implement a progressive national constitution, restructure local governments, have all levels of government working to one cohesive end, deliver basic services to all communities, and confront a high rate of societal violence and a still-uneasy racial divide.
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. Students receive intensive isiXhosa language instruction, focusing on beginning speaking and comprehension skills. In addition to isiXhosa, students receive introductory instruction in Afrikaans, a language that emerged historically from the creolization of the population through slavery and immigration of Dutch settlers. Students spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an independent study project, pursuing original research on a selected topic of interest to them.
You will spend the first four weeks of the program in Langa township, one of the many areas designated for black South Africans and one of the oldest townships in the country. SIT's classrooms and office are in the southern suburb of Rondebosch, also the site of the University of Cape Town. You will experience four homestays with isiXhosa and Afrikaans-speaking families. You will engage deeply with South Africa's history of multiculturalism and apartheid, and also on ethnic identities today and how they are reflected on national, regional, local and individual leves. You'll study how race relations in South Africa shape and are shaped by contested histories, politics, and social welfare programs. You will see Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years in prison. You will travel to the Steve Biko Centre on the Eastern Cape, where you'll learn about the Black Consciousness movement. You will also visit either the Buffelsfontein Game Reserve or the Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve.
You will study isiXhoda and Afrikaans languages. A tonal language with clicks, isiXhosa is spoken widely across South Africa. You will receive intensive isiXhosa language instruction focusing on beginning speaking and comprehension skills. These skills give you the opportunity to meaningfully engage with isiXhosa-speaking communities, and you can practice your new skills during your Langa homestay. You will also learn introductory Afrikaans, a language that emerged through slavery and immigration of Dutch settlers. Afrikaans is spoken as a first language by the Afrikaner community and, to a larger extent, by the colored community.
You will spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a selected topic. The ISP is conducted in Cape Town or another approved location appropriate to your subject. Sample ISP topic areas:
Credits: 4.5 for the fall or spring semester
Program Advisor: Professor Emre Sencer
Learn more about the South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights Program and other SIT programs.
Click here to apply for off-campus study.
Select a program