“We offer a wide range of courses, working with subject specialists as course instructors and TAs”
We offer a wide range of courses, working with subject specialists as course instructors and TAs. In our course design and teaching delivery we aim to reproduce the student-centered pedagogy of elite Liberal Arts institutions in the US. Students will have access to a “course convener”, course instructors (“lecturers”) and one of more “tutors” (the rough equivalent of a TA). Instruction takes place via a variety of formats: lectures, small informal seminars, tutorials, workshops, residencies and studios, and includes a mix of classroom and on-site learning.
Most courses include a practical and experiential learning component, and many of them offer opportunities for students to submit work in non-standard formats: a photographic essay, a research diary, a piece of creative non-fiction writing, or an online resource.
Listed below are some sample courses, picking up on key local issues and topics of interest. We also offer customized courses and topics on request, and will work with faculty from sending schools and third party service providers to make sure that our courses meet your students’ needs.
All courses carry the same weight and are the equivalent of 3 credit hours. We recommend a load of five courses per semester.
"We also offer customized courses and topics on request"
SOCIAL JUSTICE AND TRANSFORMATION
Social Justice and Transformation in South Africa
In the more than twenty years since the democratic elections of 1994, South Africa has passed from rainbow nation to troubled postcolony, and we have exchanged the saintly figure of Nelson Mandela for the compromised figure of Jacob Zuma. Of course, beneath the surface of this neat narrative, and far more complex and layered story waits to be told. In this course we will examine questions of social justice and transformation in South Africa, reading the work of local and global scholars and commentators as we attempt to make sense of South Africa’s social and political transition. Experiential learning component: In the social laboratory that constitutes contemporary South Africa, every moment of your stay counts as a learning opportunity.
The Making and Un-making of Race in South Africa
What are the differences between multi-racism, non-racism, anti-racism and post-racism? Why does the work of Biko and Fanon continued to have such lasting relevance for anti-racist scholars and activists? How was the so-called “scientific racism” of the early part of the twentieth century inscribed in institutional and disciplinary practices? What are the legacies of apartheid? What has #BlackLivesMatter been such a powerful source of inspiration for #FeesMustFall activists and intellectuals? This course examines the long history of race making in South Africa, from the nineteenth century to the present, picking up on key theorists and debates. A central concern is with placing local debates and topics in global perspective. Experiential learning component: (see above).
Social Movements and Social Change in Africa
Social movements have played a key role in South Africa’s social and political transition, and a wide range of movements and NGO’s currently organize around issues ranging from anti-fracking to the rights of immigrants, and from educational reform to questions of climate change. This course examines social movements in Africa in comparative perspective, drawing on local and global theory around emergent forms of political organization, the role of new media, and struggles around rights and citizenship. Experiential learning component: Intern with a local NGO or social movement.
Food Heritage and Slavery in Cape Town
Through an investigation of food paths in Cape Town, we are able to look at the connections between slavery, colonialism, ways of life and the local. This course will respond to scholar Anthony Bogues’s idea of an ‘archive of the ordinary’ and will consider food and cooking as entry points to thinking about history. Students will consider recipes and food practices particular to Cape Town, as a basis through which to understand larger questions of history, heritage, dispossession and networks of trade and influences. Experiential learning component: Weekly cooking sessions in the homes of our community partners, and a semester-end banquet prepared by students.
Own Goals: Sport and Politics in South Africa
Politics and sport were intertwined in apartheid South Africa. The legacies of this situation continue to resonate, with racial and socio-economic divides playing out on our soccer, rugby and cricket pitches. As well as engaging the history and theory of sport and politics in South Africa, students will work with sports clubs in Cape Town, thinking about with larger questions of history, belonging and the realties of life in post-apartheid South Africa. Experiential learning component: Intern on the youth development program of a local sports club.
After the #Fall: Challenges of Higher Education Transformation in South Africa
The #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements focused sharp attention on outstanding issues of higher education transformation in South Africa. Through rolling protests and the savvy use of social media, students closed university campuses nationally as they called for “free, decolonized, quality” higher education. Such events take place in a complex landscape that includes the social and epistemological legacies of colonialism and apartheid, and contemporary forces of globalization and the neo-liberalization of higher education. In this course we will engage with the challenges of higher education transformation in South Africa in comparative perspective, opening questions of knowledge, curriculum, and the role and meaning of the university. Experiential learning component: Students will engage with South African students and faculty from the four regional universities, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University, and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology as a way of understanding the legacies of apartheid Higher Education.
ARTS AND CULTURE
An Introduction to South African Art History
This course will consider the period between 1880 and 2016 and consider works of art from South Africa from this period in an attempt to re-frame the art historical canon as well as to contribute to an understanding as to how the aethetic and the creative are crucial in the politics of history and the human. Students will work with galleries as well as museums in Cape Town. Experiential learning component: Work with Cape Town-based galleries and museums on an aspect of their collections management and public programs.
Njabulo Ndebele writes about twentieth-century South Africa:
“Everything [in South Africa] has been mind-bogglingly spectacular: the monstrous war machine developed over the years; . . . mass shootings and killings; . . . the mass removals of people; . . . the luxurious life-style of whites. . . . It could be said, therefore, that the most outstanding feature of South African oppression is its brazen, exhibitionist openness.”
Offering a coutnerpoint to this narrative are moments of ordinary life, whereby South Africans craft moments of freedom and liberty in racially oppressive times. In this course, students will direct and produce short documentary films that look at these moments, relying on archival footage and photographs in tandem with interviews those whose lives have been shaped by apartheid. Experiential learning component: Direct and produce short documentary films, screened in a semester-end mini-festival.
Locked Up: Documentary Photography in South African Prisons
Since the first democratic elections in South Africa, there has been unprecedented interest in prison photography. This course will consider this genre as an entry point into larger ideas of incarceration, inequality, recidivism, and the ways in which the South African prison mirrors the contemporary South African landscape. Through literature, photography as well as working with NGOs, students will think about the interface between prisons and society. Experiential learning component: Students have the option of working on a portfolio of documentary photographs, under the mentorship of Siona O’Connell.
Visual / Digital / Oral: New Media in Africa
This course considers the intersections between the visual, the digital and the oral in Africa. Through a thematic reading of photographs and videos posted on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp, students will theoretically and practically consider questions of identity, belonging and representation in an attempt to understand how these platforms contribute to critical re-framing of ways of being on the continent. Experiential learning component: Students will be part-graded on an online resource that they produce as part of the course.
Creative Writing Seminar*
Led by some of Cape Town’s many published authors and poets, this creative writing seminar will challenge you to hone your craft across multiple genres: fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and the like. As well as weekly writing workshops in which students share their work, this course includes a four-day writing residency in the Cederberg Mountains, an opportunity to generate new work and to respond creatively to an inspirational natural and social setting. Experiential learning component: This course is an exercise in experiential learning.
ARCHAEOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
Rock Art of the Western Cape*
The Cederberg Mountains, three hours north of Cape Town, are a treasure trove of rock art, with thousands of painted sites. South African scholars have been instrumental in advancing theories around the meaning of the art, so that many sites and paintings speak to us of the richness of hunter/ gather life and complex, non-modern cosmologies. This course introduces students to the rock art of the Western Cape, picking up on the substantial global literature on rock art studies, shamanism, and the origins of cognitive modernity in Africa. Students will spend one week in the Cederberg Mountains, learning rock art recording techniques and contributing to a digital database of rock art sites. Experiential learning component: This course is an exercise in experiential learning.
Gender Studies and Feminism in Africa
What is the difference between gender and sexuality? What particular challenges face feminists in Africa? How have local scholars worked with queer theory? What are the intersections between patriarchy and coloniality? This course introduces students to local scholarship on gender studies and feminism, picking up on the ways in which African and South African scholars have intervened in global debates. A central concern is with notions of “traveling theory”. How do feminist theories and practices from the global north “land” in local contexts? And how are they transformed in the process?
Dresses of Dreams: Pageants in Cape Town
The South African Clothing Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) TU Spring Queen fashion pageant is an annual event in which local clothing and textile workers take to the ramp. It has been running for some 40 years. With the labor particularities of the Western Cape, workers in this sector are overwhelmingly black and almost all are women. They hail from townships across Cape Town. Many are single mothers and support extended households. Through working with the pageant organizers and in workshops, students will use this pageant as a springboard into interdisciplinary scholarship on questions of labor, performance, gender and archive. Experiential learning component: Students will work with pageant participants to prepare garments for the pageant, and on aspects of the styling and choreography of the event.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY
Walking Seminar on Table Mountain: Archaeology, Apartheid and the Anthropocene*
Led by Nick Shepherd, this course takes the form of a walking seminar in which we traverse parts of the Table Mountain chain, staying in tented camps on top of the mountain. Using the performativity of walking as a form of pedagogy, and working with ideas around affective and embodied research, we open questions around social justice, the long human career, and anthropogenic climate change, to produce a decolonial perspective on sustainable human futures. Half of the grade for this course will be given for a non-standard format submission: a portfolio of poems, piece if creative writing, short documentary film, or photographic essay. Experiential learning component: This course is an exercise in experiential learning.
BUSINESS AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Women and Entrepreneurship in Africa
Women have often been identified as key agents of social change, and the economic empowerment of women has been a means of addressing indicators of development from childhood nutrition to teenage pregnancy and access to education. This course examines the intersection between women and entrepreneurship in Africa, with an emphasis on local projects and initiatives aimed at making a difference. Experiential learning component: Students will intern with a Cape Town-based project aimed at entrepreneurial skills development and the economic empowerment of women.
MUSEUM STUDIES AND CRITICAL CURATION
Thinking about the Human in the Postcolonial Museum
Beginning with the writings of Frantz Fanon, Sylvia Wynter and Anthony Bogues, this course explores the mutiple meanings of the body as both the subject and site of representation in colonial and postcolonial museums. The course will examine some of the many ways the human body in the museum space has has been ordered to produce, express and represent significant cultural ideas and social forces. It includes a consideration of the emergency of racial slavery, collection of human remains in the museum, the legacies of colonial imagery, and contemplates the political in how we re-imagine what it means to be human in the postcolonial. Experiential learning component: Students will intern in a Cape Town-based museum, working on aspects of their collections and public programming.
This course will introduce students to the history and practice of curatorship with a focus on colonial and postcolonial museums. Students will develop skills necessary for the practicalities of mounting exhibitions and displays. The course will examine the responsibilities of the curator to the public, with a strong focus on South African issues and communities. Students will be expected to curate a reponse to a broad theme which may include ideas around gender, land, home, belonging, nationhood, migrancy, sexuality, and the like. Experiential learning component: Students will curate a modest semester-end exhibition, under the mentorship of Siona O’Connell.
WE HAVE TWO GENERAL MODELS OF OPERATING.
In the first, we partner with established third party study abroad service providers in Cape Town, to take care of their in-house teaching needs. We offer semester-long courses that reproduce the best of UCT’s courses, under the direct control of our partners. Our partners enjoy the best of both worlds: total control every step of the way without the cost of setting up a parallel operation AND the knowledge that their students are encountering the very best of local scholarship and cultural production.
In the second model, we partner directly with sending institutions to offer short courses and customized programs. We work with faculty at sending schools to offer a one-stop academic service: curriculum design and delivery, fieldwork opportunities, service learning, guest lectures, and internships. We also offer a research facilitation service and local introductions for accompanying faculty. If required, we reproduce the functions of accompanying faculty using local faculty. Why pay for services in dollars, when we offer the equivalent services costed in rands?