Eva Stanton CC'17

Durban City Scene

SIT South Africa: Social and Political Transformation

Language of Instruction: English, Zulu
Multiple locations,
South Africa
Term: Spring, Fall

Explore the socioeconomic, political, and cultural dynamics of South Africa

The next application deadline is Oct 1, 2021
See other program dates


Are you eager to attend a field-based program that focuses on issues of inequality, poverty and racial ethnic, and gender-based discrimination in South Africa? If so, consider SIT South Africa: Social and Political Transformation for a semester. When Nelson Mandela cast his vote in Durban in 1994, South Africa's system of legislated apartheid receded into history. However, the country continues to struggle with discrimination and poverty. During the program, you explore reconciliation and development through lectures, discussion, field-based activities, and excursions to rural KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town.

Though the coursework is in English, you have the opportunity to learn Zulu.


You enroll in five courses during the semester:

  • Two (2) Social and Political Transformation Seminars
  • Introductory Language Study: Zulu
  • Research Methods and Ethics
  • Independent Study Project (ISP)

The ISP gives you the unique opportunity to apply your learning in a research project that is supervised by a local adviser.

Program Features

The program base of Durban is a fusion of African, Western, and Eastern influences. It is home to, among others, the Zulu nation, as well as descendants of British settlers, indentured Indian laborers, and traders.

SIT programs emphasize learning by experiencing, and therefore you also participate in several educational excursions to places such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, southern and northern KwaZulu-Natal among others.

Because of the highly mobile nature of the program, you live in a variety of different places throughout the semester. You spend the first portion of the program living in the township of Cato Manor, which is near Durban. You are able to practice Zulu in the homestay family environment. Rural homestays as well as independent housing are also included in the final weeks of the semester.


Review eligibility to ensure that you meet all Columbia requirements to study abroad.

Review the external program webpage to understand any additional program prerequisites.

Application Instructions

To apply, you must complete the two steps below. Deadlines vary and some applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Therefore, you should complete the steps below simultaneously:

  • To apply for Columbia clearance (approval) to study abroad, click on "Start Your Application" on this webpage. Clearance applications are approved on a rolling basis until the application deadline listed on this webpage.
  • To apply for program admission, complete an external application directly on the program webpage. Note that this deadline may be in advance of the Columbia clearance deadline.

Fact Sheet

Humanities, Social Sciences
Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia General Studies, Columbia Undergraduates, Junior, Senior, Study Abroad
Language of Instruction:
Multiple locations,
South Africa
Africa South of the Sahara
Spring, Fall

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Monday, March 1, 2021
Application Deadline: 
Friday, October 1, 2021