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South Africa Study Group – University of Cape Town

Director Fall 2019: Peter Klepeis, Department of Geography
Students Diana Dimas ’20, Annie Getz-Eidelhoch ’20, Shamarcus Doty ’20 and Taylor Dumas ’20 pose along the African coast with a Banner that reads Colgate at 200 Years

The South Africa Study Group is in its second year and is open to all Colgate students, regardless of department or program affiliation. Located in one of Africa’s global cities, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is the site of the study group. It is one of the top research and academic universities in the world. Students are able to take two upper-level electives toward their major at UCT as well as two required courses (all classes are in English). At the same time, they become immersed in the city, the Western Cape region, and the country of South Africa. There are multiple field trips, both within and beyond the city, which reinforce the social and environmental justice theme of the study group. They allow students to experience first hand the country’s cultural and natural heritage. The excursions include Cape Point, District Six, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Robben Island, the Solms Delta winery in nearby Stellenbosch, and the Inverdoorn Game Reserve to learn about rhino conversation and cheetah rehabilitation. Also, an overnight trip to the Cederberg region explores the San people, the Boer war, and sustainable development as well as visits to hot springs, rock art, and hiking.​

Study Group Goals

  1. To take courses within a broad range of disciplines at a world class research and teaching university
  2. To ground students in South Africa’s social and environmental context, and challenge them to grapple with historical layers of inclusion and exclusion as well as vulnerability to environmental hazards
  3. To understand democratic transitions, race politics, economic liberalization, and environmental change
  4. To meet people from around the world, ask deep questions about other cultures, and seek answers to those questions

Peter Klepeis is experienced in directing Colgate off-campus study programs (Australia, England, and Uganda) and has conducted research around the world (e.g., Chile, Ethiopia, and Mexico). The South Africa study group’s general theme of social and environmental justice will be explored in an interdisciplinary way, accessible to students whether their interests lie in the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences.

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Courses

University of Cape Town Course Approval Form

In addition to two upper-level electives from UCT’s course catalogue, students are required to enroll in GEOG 328, taught by P. Klepeis, and a Colgate-listed course, ALST 250, taught by Tammy Wilks from UCT’s Centre for African Studies.

GEOG 328 (Sustainability and Natural Resources) assumes no prior knowledge of geography or environmental studies. Key interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives linked to sustainable development and environmental justice are covered at the beginning of the semester. Most of the course is spent applying these perspectives to the unique case studies South Africa presents. For example, Cape Town threatened to shut off all public water supplies in July 2018 due to a combination of drought, the city’s growth, and failure to identify new water sources. How will the water challenge be managed? Will the city’s response ensure equitable access to water? Other case studies include climate change and food security, coal mining, wildlife conservation, vulnerability to toxic pollution, and land rights and the case of the indigenous San people. GEOG 328 meets Colgate’s Global Engagements (GE) requirement.

ALST 250 (Representations of Africa) critiques the ways in which “Africa” has been constructed as an object of Western knowledge. It interrogates how Africa and Africans have been portrayed to outsiders as well as the socio-political ramifications of such portrayals. Drawing on the social sciences, humanities, and creative arts, the course explores images of slavery, travel writing and tourism, visual arts, human rights discourse, media portrayals, international aid and development, and “voluntourism”.

Prerequisites

Students from any area of study are welcome to participate, and all current sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply. The director will interview the applicants. Preference is given to those who have completed the requisite introductory sequences for their major prior to participating, and who have some intermediate or advanced elective experience. No foreign language skills are required. 

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Living Arrangements

Students will reside in the CampusKey Student Living residence near UCT. The modern facility includes a gym, laundry, and shared kitchens to prepare meals. In addition, there are many inexpensive dining options nearby and on campus. Downtown Cape Town is easily reached via UCT’s shuttle known as the Jammie, which is free to you as an enrolled UCT student. 

Safety and Security

Cape Town is considered a medium risk destination. Petty theft is the most common crime. Female students may experience verbal sexual harassment. Director’s rules for your safety will be explained during pre-departure meetings. Some rules, such as drug use, are subject to a zero-tolerance behavior policy. Colgate’s Code of Conduct applies during your semester abroad in Cape Town.

Costs in Cape Town

Costs will not exceed what students pay at Colgate. Students will be billed Colgate tuition and the cost of their Cape Town housing plus accommodations on overnight excursions. Cape Town housing will be less costly than Colgate housing for the semester. Students will be responsible for their airfare, student visa, and food. Living expenses are generally low in South Africa, therefore, students can expect to spend less than what they spend at Colgate for the semester (not including any other personal travel while abroad). For details of student expenses on this exchange program, please see the student cost estimate sheet on the Off-Campus Study website.

Calendar and Deadlines

The fall semester at UCT begins in mid-July and goes until late November. Colgate students will be on-campus in South Africa until their exams are finished. The study group application will open on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and will close on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. All applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study websites and are submitted online at offcampusstudy.colgate.edu. Interviews will be arranged by email, and the faculty director will announce admissions decisions in January 2019. 

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through July 2020. All students participating on the Fall 2019 South Africa Study Group will be required to obtain a student visa. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with South African visa requirements. All students must also be travel to the South African consulate in person to obtain the visa. All US citizens must obtain an FBI report, and must apply for the report soon after the start of the Spring 2019 semester. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study, 101 McGregory, and International Student Services, 103C Lathrop, to learn as much as you can about the visa requirements.  For some students there are significant requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs. 

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Program Dates

South Africa Study Group program approximate dates: 1 September to late December, 2019

Informational Sessions:

Thursday, October 11th at 4:15pm in Ho Science Center 328 and

Tuesday, October 16th at 11:30am in McGregory 101

More Information

For more information, contact Prof. Peter Klepeis, pklepeis@colgate.edu.