Study Abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Study Abroad in Stellenbosch: Courses

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Learn about the Stellenbosch Service Learning program.

Stellenbosch University expands its course offerings and programs each year. The following courses were offered on the 2016 program. Each year the course content and program is adjusted slightly with new courses added.

Academic Field Trips: Many of the courses on the summer program include academic field trips which give students practical, real-life examples of the subject they are studying. These field trips will be identified in the final course information prior to arrival and may take place outside of regular scheduled class times.

All courses are taught in English.

General Elective Program

Students take 3 courses in total on this program. Course 1 is mandatory for all students. The two remaining courses are selected from Courses 2 to 11. Each course is worth 2 credits, giving a total of 6 credits. A minimum of 5 students must register for a particular course in order for it to be presented.

Select one course from each week.

Week 1 (Mandatory)

Course 1 - SSA 202/302 (2) | Introduction to South Africa’s Political History

During this course, you will be introduced to South Africa’s unique 20th century history, and the interplay between the country’s political, social and economic issues. In particular, the focus is on South African identities, and how these were and continue to be shaped by the country’s past. At the root of the apartheid project was a sustained attempt to manipulate social identities. Almost 50 years of social engineering cannot be dismissed easily, and continues to influence the future of our democracy. Understanding how the past impacts on the present allows us to better understand the issues and challenges currently facing the country. We therefore commence by exploring South Africa’s political history, focusing on the apartheid era and the transition to democracy. A field trip to Robben Island will contribute to making this history come alive. An assessment of the process of reconciliation following the 1994 elections provides the bridge to a discussion of the project of nation-building, including the debates around national identity construction.

Week 2

Course 2 - SSA 203/303 (2) | Biodiversity: Plants for the People in the Western Cape

During this course, you will be introduced to South Africa’s incredible biological diversity, with special focus on the plants of the Cape Floristic Region. After a solid theoretical and practical introduction to the diversity and richness of this flora, the focus will shift to the role and responsibility of people in conserving and benefiting from these botanical riches. This leads to a full day of exploration of the benefits currently being reaped from commercialization of indigenous plants especially for the cut flower industry. Indigenous plant use by local people, especially traditional healers, constitutes the final topic of discussion, and will be followed by a visit to traditional medicinal markets. The course will close with verbal presentations by students on topics researched during the course.

Course 3 - SSA 204/304 (2) | Visual Controversies in South Africa, Past and Present

In this course we will track major developments and changes in South African art and media from the Union years (1910-1948), through the Apartheid era (1948-1994) and after (1994-present). The point of this broad historical perspective is not so much to provide a condensed history of South African art and media, as it is to explore the relationship between South Africa’s turbulent socio-political landscape and its visual culture. In particular, we aim to explore the notion of national identity as it manifested and still manifests in art and visual culture. The first part of the course deals with the concurrent rise of Afrikaner and African nationalism in the early 20th century, and the role of visual culture in the construction of these competing national identities. The second part of the lecture series deals with the years of the ‘struggle’, when the dominant white construct of nation came into conflict with the rising tide of militant African nationalist aspiration. The final part of the series looks at ‘new’ South African nationalism, and the often conflicted art and media it produces.

Course 4 - SSA 210/310 (2) | Challenges for Democratic Consolidation

This was in the catalogue in summer 2015 so the course description may be somewhere hidden but the old version is attached I think we just need up to "the role of tradition in South Africa today"

Course 5 - SSA 206/306 (2) | Growth, Unemployment and Inequality in South Africa: Past and Future Challenges

South Africa is a developing country marked by severe inequalities. While in many aspects its economy reflects that of a developed nation, the exorbitant unemployment rate and the large number of people living in absolute poverty are characteristic of low-income countries. This course first attempts to shed light on South Africa’s unique path of economic development: what were the causes of such an unequally divided society? The post- Apartheid government has made multiple attempts to eradicate poverty and redress inequality. We discuss the successes and failures of these policies. Finally, we look to the future, and discuss the scenarios that could either lift South Africa to highincome status or allow it to become another ‘African failure’.

Course 6 - SSA 205/305 (2) | Multilingualism and Intercultural Communication

Three main themes will be covered during the course. 1. Intercultural Communication as a field of academic reflection: This theme will cover the historical background, and the reasons for scholarly and popular interest in the phenomenon of intercultural communication. It will also give definitions and general features as well as the main research themes currently covered in Intercultural Communication. In the course of introducing this theme, key concepts in the field, such as ‘language’, ‘multilingualism’, ‘culture’, ‘communication’, ‘miscommunication’, ‘misunderstanding’, etc. will be introduced. 2. Theoretical approaches to the study of Intercultural Communication phenomena and methods of research in Intercultural Communication: This theme will introduce a number of theoretical approaches and the associated methodologies within the field. These will include the contrastive approach, the interlanguage approach; the interactive-intercultural approach; pragmatic approaches; sociolinguistic approaches; ethnographic approaches, (critical) discourse analysis; linguistic analysis (e.g. structural features of code-switching; pragmatic features such as irony and truism). 3. Intercultural Communication in social interaction: Here two broad themes will be covered, namely (i) Intercultural Communication which involves minority language groups, and (ii) Intercultural Communication in the workplace. This theme will be introduced by means of specific case studies which illustrate communicative features that mark multilingual contexts, as well as the linguistic effects of migration related to, for example, global economic mobility, war and other forms of violence, provision of public health care in multilingual facilities, provision of educational opportunities to minority language groups.

Week 3/4

Course 7 - SSA 209/309 (2) | Marketing

The module provides the student with an introduction to marketing and will focus on marketing dynamics in a rapidly changing environment. The aim will be to assist students in understanding the discipline of marketing and to focus on the variables that are important when making modern marketing decisions. Some of the aspects that will be addressed in the module are: an overview of marketing, the marketing environment, the competitive situation, understanding the consumer, segmenting and targeting markets, positioning the firm and its products, developing and managing products, marketing channels and intermediaries, pricing concepts, marketing communication, marketing in specialized markets.

Course 8 - SSA 208/308 (2) | Present Imperfect: Negotiating Identities in Film and Literature

This course focuses on the way in which literature and film in South Africa registered and reflected the social and political conflicts and tensions of the Apartheid years, and how, since the first democratic elections in 1994, these cultural products have served—and continue to serve—as a means of questioning and negotiating identity, not only nationally, but also at the level of the community and the individual. Over the course of the week we will engage with two novels, a range of classic and contemporary South African poetry (also in the form of lyrics), as well as three films: one from the Apartheid era and two more recent South African productions.

Course 9 - SSA 207/307 (2) | HIV and AIDS: A South African Perspective

This course aims to nurture and develop the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in students as leaders and future professionals to manage HIV prevention and care in the workplace, both locally and abroad. This course will aim to develop a global understanding of HIV and AIDS through a South African experience of the HIV epidemic.

Course 10 - SSA 211/311 (2) | Ethics, Science and Culture in Philosophical Perspective

This course examines a number of key problems in contemporary ethics, politics and culture. Students are introduced to important questions and debates relating to our understanding of science, evolution, complexity, biomedicine, happiness and social justice. Beginning with an exploration of the implications of our evolutionary origins on our understanding of ethics, the focus then shifts to the nature of modern science and its impact on our culture. In light of the insights developed here, we then look at some of the specific moral problems that are called up by recent developments in biomedical technology. Moving away from ethics as applied to particular questions, we then consider the disruptive implications of the acknowledgement that we live in a complex world for how we conceive of ethics on all levels of our human existence. This is followed by an inquiry into the problem of happiness in philosophy and in contemporary psychology and economics. Against the background of this inquiry, we then reflect on the moral principles for distributing benefits and burdens, rights and obligations within society: happiness, need, merit or fairness?

Course 11 - SSA 201/301 (2) | China in Africa

Focuses on China’s growing role on the African continent. While China engaged with African liberation movements during the Cold War, it was only from the 1990s onward, following its shift to a market economy, that the Chinese presence in Africa became a topic of widespread public debate. Understanding how China engages with Africa is crucial to grasping a much larger phenomenon, namely the rise of East Asia and the geopolitical realignment of global power which is currently taking place. By the end of this course you will have a comprehensive understanding of the drivers of Chinese engagements and why the Chinese presence is so attractive to African leaders. You will also familiarize yourself with the controversy surrounding the relationship, including issues of labor, trade imbalance and environmental degradation. The course commences with an historical overview of the relationship and its importance in the cementing of contemporary relations, followed by China’s unique modes of economic engagement on the continent. We then examine the various kinds of political influence which China wields and discuss some of the controversies surrounding the engagement and mechanisms which African countries draw on to command more cooperative interaction. The course will be conducted through interactive lectures, discussions, video material, and a field trip.

Doing Business in Southern Africa Program

Course 1 - SSA 202/302 (2) (Mandatory) | Introduction to South Africa’s Political History

During this course, you will be introduced to South Africa’s unique 20th century history, and the interplay between the country’s political, social and economic issues. In particular, the focus is on South African identities, and how these were and continue to be shaped by the country’s past. At the root of the apartheid project was a sustained attempt to manipulate social identities. Almost 50 years of social engineering cannot be dismissed easily, and continues to influence the future of our democracy. Understanding how the past impacts on the present allows us to better understand the issues and challenges currently facing the country. We therefore commence by exploring South Africa’s political history, focusing on the apartheid era and the transition to democracy. A field trip to Robben Island will contribute to making this history come alive. An assessment of the process of reconciliation following the 1994 elections provides the bridge to a discussion of the project of nation-building, including the debates around national identity construction.

Course 2 - SSA 214/314 (5) (Mandatory) | Doing Business in Southern Africa

For too long, Africa has been tainted by a Western skepticism of its past and potential development performance. The African caricature is not only reinforced by the popular media in their portrayal of famine, civil war and HIV/AIDS on the continent, but also in more credible sources. In their seminal contribution Collier and Gunning (1999) explain Africa’s post-colonial economic performance as a “chronic failure of economic growth”. The widely-held belief that Africa has always been poor, “underdeveloped”, and will remain so, is succinctly summarized by The Economist (2000), referring to Africa as “the hopeless continent” that would never escape recurring crises.

Of course, these pessimistic perspectives have their roots in the lackluster economic performance of many African countries in the four decades following independence. Average life expectancy of a child born in sub-Saharan Africa in 1980 was only 48 years (this before the onset of HIV/AIDS that would further decrease life expectancy in many African countries) and daily calorie intake was only 70 per cent of that of Latin America and East Asia (Hopkins 2009). But to suggest that African countries have always been underdeveloped is not only careless but wrong. African countries are rapidly emerging from the yokes of colonialism and fragile institutions that hampered post-independence development. Six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the decade 2000 – 2010 were African. A massive market is emerging, spurred on by greater investment in infrastructure, technology and human capital. Even the recent global recession had little effect on most African countries growth trajectory.

This course will bring together leading experts on Southern African countries’ economic and development opportunities. Doing business in a developing country raises numerous challenges. The course begins with an introduction to Africa’s past and present development performance, and economic outlook. Complex trade-offs arise from trade, integration and competition policy issues. A developmental focus necessitates entrepreneurs and big business to act socially, ethically and environmentally responsibly. Cognizant of these challenges, Southern African countries are open for business.

Course Outcomes:

  • An acute knowledge of the development challenges facing Southern African countries
  • Understand the growth of emerging Southern African markets and identify future growth potential
  • Ability to discuss and debate current and future policy issues in a development country context
  • Awareness of the additional social, environmental and ethical considerations for African businesses
  • Prepare written case studies of a Southern African business
  • Deliver oral presentations to a diverse audience
  • Sensitivity for cultural diversity and respect for value systems that differ from our own

Public Health Care Program

Course 1 - SSA 202/302 (2) (Mandatory) | Introduction to South Africa’s Political History

During this course, you will be introduced to South Africa’s unique 20th century history, and the interplay between the country’s political, social and economic issues. In particular, the focus is on South African identities, and how these were and continue to be shaped by the country’s past. At the root of the apartheid project was a sustained attempt to manipulate social identities. Almost 50 years of social engineering cannot be dismissed easily, and continues to influence the future of our democracy. Understanding how the past impacts on the present allows us to better understand the issues and challenges currently facing the country. We therefore commence by exploring South Africa’s political history, focusing on the apartheid era and the transition to democracy. A field trip to Robben Island will contribute to making this history come alive. An assessment of the process of reconciliation following the 1994 elections provides the bridge to a discussion of the project of nation-building, including the debates around national identity construction.

SSA TBC (5) (Mandatory) | Public Health Care in South Africa

This course introduces students to the health care system in South Africa both academically and practically, with Stellenbosch faculty lectures and experiential learning. The course takes a thematic approach with themes which are informed by the determinants of health in the Western Cape. It starts with a one week focus on HIV/AIDS, as a medical and social issue affecting South Africa, and the following two weeks cover topics such as substance abuse, domestic violence, mental and psychosocial health and sexual and reproductive health. Students will have the special opportunity to enhance their learning with exposures to health care facilities in the Western Cape Province where they will be able to make observations and participate in planned activities on site.