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Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2019 02/11/2019 02/21/2019 TBA TBA
Spring 2020 09/10/2019 09/27/2019 TBA TBA
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Major: African and African Diaspora Studies, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Public Health, Social Policy and Practice, Sociology
Program Description:

SIT Durban: Community Health and Social Policy

Durban, South Africa

SIT Durban

About the Program | Durban,South Africa | Eligibility
Fields of Study | Academic Culture | Student Life | Housing | Helpful Links
About the Program
The SIT program model is one of experiential learning abroad. SIT has been providing immersive, field-based study abroad programs for undergraduates for more than 50 years. SIT programs are based on the experiential learning model, which merges hands-on learning with reflection. Programs combine classroom learning with time spent in the field observing, interacting with local stakeholders, and learning from local experts.
Site visits and other learning experiences are relevant to the program’s theme. A program focused on global health may include visits to hospitals, rural clinics, or refugee camps. A program focused on economy may include an internship with a local business or financial institution. Students studying climate change and natural resource management may spend extensive time in nature reserves and national parks.
This experiential approach gives you the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of a critical global issue. You may find yourself interviewing local community members in the local language (with the help of a translator, when necessary), observing wildlife in its natural habitat, practicing a local art form, or participating in a community project designed by local development experts.
This program focuses on topics such as the relationship between traditional healing and state-of-the-art medicine, prenatal care, access to healthcare, and health education. Students consider how various health paradigms — ranging from biomedical to holistic — and health policies have achieved mixed results in addressing the healthcare needs of the South African people.

The program base of Durban, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, serves as a nexus of health teaching, research, and practice in both allopathic and traditional healing systems. Students receive lectures from academics and leaders of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), many of whom are on the cutting edge of research and policy development in South Africa.

Through the interdisciplinary coursework in this program, students examine contemporary public health issues in South Africa through a multidisciplinary lens, while analyzing the historical, political, economic, cultural, and geographic forces that shape the history of public health interventions in South Africa. Through the Social and Community Health Research Methods seminar, students learn to be critical consumers of medical research papers and media reports on health, to gather primary data on health issues through questioning and observation, and to conduct ethical, culturally appropriate research in preparation for the Independent Study Project (ISP). Through language study and homestays, students gain a unique window into the culture and insights into community healthcare.

Durban, South Africa
Durban, the program base, faces public health challenges of immense proportions, and it lies near the epicenter of southern Africa’s HIV pandemic. Cultural views on health and varying levels of wealth and education influence access to and acceptance of public health services. You will be encouraged to think broadly about the perceived dichotomy between western and traditional medicine and appreciate the importance of acceptability and accessibility.

  • 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Foundation studies in Public Health required
  • Coursework with African content strongly recommended, particularly ADST 2000 "Intro to Africa & African Diaspora" and HISB 4210 "History of Development in Africa."
Fields of Study
African and African Diaspora Studies, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, International Development, Studies, Public Health, Social Policy and Practice, Sociology

Academic Culture
This program will provide students interested in public health, health sciences, development studies, and other disciplines the opportunity to scrutinize health-related challenges as they intersect with traditional and rural medicinal practices. Students will learn from academics and practitioners associated with leading institutions in South Africa.

Major topics of study include:
  • Healthcare delivery in rural South Africa, including the practice of prevention and promotion of healthcare
  • The role of the media in promoting, communicating, or influencing health issues in South Africa
  • The ways in which specific health issues in South Africa are being targeted or addressed
  • Rural health and social justice
  • The pharmaceutical industry
  • Traditional healing 
In addition to courses focusing on these topics, students will take a Research Methods and Ethics course to prepare you for your Independent Study Project or internship. During the final four weeks of the program, you will either participate in an internship seminar or conduct an Independent Study Project.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
Conducted in Durban or in another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: sociological consequences of HIV/AIDS; a historical review of food security and nutrition programs in a community-based NGO; public health education campaigns; African refugees' and asylum seekers' access to health services; analysis of the proposed National Health Insurance scheme; sustainable development and healthcare; local attitudes about access to healthcare facilities; indigenous healing practices.
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. A focus will be on linking internship learning with the program’s critical global issue focus and overall program theme.

Student Life
SIT programs are cohort- and field-based. You will be intensely studying a topic with a group of American students, taking a prescribed set of courses. These courses are supplemented by guest lectures given by local specialists in the fields of study along with site visits and excursions to various locations within the country.
Durban Hospitals or Clinics
Visit hospitals or clinics in Durban in small groups to observe the varying quality of healthcare facilities and the often heroic work of dedicated health workers who provide the best service they can, often in difficult circumstances.
Special Needs Schools
The South African apartheid government set up a number of special needs schools for whites only. Most of these have been transformed into multiracial schools, but the number of schools remains insufficient. The current government wants to move toward inclusion, closing specialized schools and having students attend regular schools. You will consider the resources, challenges, and benefits associated with special needs schools and discuss the cost-benefit of special education. For comparison, you will also visit a traditional school.
Nongovernmental Organizations
Visit NGOs that deliver health services in areas that the government does not cover. You will consider the challenges governments can face in delivering services on a small scale in holistic ways. In the past, NGOs like The Valley Trust provided primary healthcare to black communities that the apartheid government neglected and oppressed. Today, these NGOs provide services in tandem with the government and other funders in operationally challenging areas. Other NGOs, including OneVoice, work in government schools to complement life-skills programs in the curriculum and work for behavioral changes necessitated by the HIV epidemic.  

The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.

You will learn more about the issues facing Zulu South Africans and develop relationships across lines of nation, class, and/or ethnicity in the homestays on this program.
The main homestay is a five-week stay with isiZulu-speaking families in or close to the township of Cato Manor near Durban and within sight of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Families have been hosting SIT students in this community for more than 10 years and take pride in ensuring that students are safe and welcome. During these weeks, you will have time to establish relationships of trust and learn the joys and struggles of living in a community facing multiple challenges.
There are also three short (three-night) homestays in the rural areas of Umthwalume, Nzinga, and Sandanezwe, where you will stay in pairs with families. Umthwalume, near Hibberdene on the southern coast, is particularly picturesque, with cattle grazing on the slopes near the Indian Ocean. Here, you will experience the realities associated with high unemployment in an area where chiefs (Indunas) still hold sway over the clan. Nzinga and Sandanezwe are remote rural areas far from the nearest hospital, raising interesting questions about healthcare access for residents. The program also offers a three-night homestay excursion to Chatsworth, where you will stay among South Africans of Indian origin.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels, private homes, or small hotels.

Helpful Links  
SIT Durban: Community Health and Social Policy

Contact Past Participants
Click HERE to contact recent study abroad alumni in this region.