8.8.16 This program page is under revision. For questions about the program please contact the Office of Study Abroad and International Programs.
Pitzer College in Southern Africa: Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe
Pitzer College’s new tri-country program is designed to expose students to important issues, cultures and peoples of the Southern Africa region. The model focuses on Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Students spend approximately one month in each of these countries where they live with host families, study culture and language, and work with local scholars and experts. The program provides students with an opportunity to learn about the multiple ways governments, NGOs and local communities in the choose to approach issues that are common across borders, such as big game conservation, ecology and tourism, HIV-AIDS and health care, education, poverty, the colonial legacy, development, race, power, human rights and reconciliation. During the fourth month of the program, students pick one topic to pursue in depth for an independent study project, which is conducted in any of the three countries.
Although Botswana shares many socio-cultural commonalities with the rest of the region, it is unique from a political and historical standpoint. It was never colonized and therefore it was not subject to many of the colonial excesses, and never had to fight a war of independence. As a result, Botswana has a different take on many of the issues with which the region and indeed the continent is dealing. During their time in Botswana, students witness firsthand how good governance and prudent natural resources management can have a positive effect on societal issues such as racialism, poverty, and gender inequity.
Since the overthrow of Apartheid and the historic 1994 election, the “Rainbow Nation” has tried to strike a balance between the expectations of the hitherto restive black population and the fears of the white minority population. Twenty-two years later, the country still remains fragmented, with unemployment at peak levels, high poverty rates, and major challenges around issues of healthcare, housing, education and more. A combination of lectures and study trips enables students to unpack the issues behind South Africa’s transformative agenda and develop a heightened sense of some of the complexities with which South Africa is dealing.
Once the breadbasket of Southern Africa and a model of post-colonial transformation, Zimbabwe is now the basket case of the region. The course will explore important issues related to land and agriculture, politics, natural resources, ownership and management and how these have hindered realization of the Zimbabwean dream.
Pitzer College in Botswana Documentary
Pitzer students Alex Cooke and Chris Norwood are media studies majors who studied in Botswana fall semester 2014. They produced and directed a 15 minute video documentary that captures both the cultural context and academics of the program in Botswana. Watch now.
Pitzer Graduate Marie Fleming ’16 Joins Peace Corps to Improve Food Security in Madagascar
Fleming studied abroad on the Pitzer in Botswana program. As a research intern with the Okavango Research Institute in Botswana in 2014, she conducted fieldwork to explore conflict between humans and wildlife in the region. She says her experience in Pitzer in Botswana encouraged her to apply to the Peace Corps. Read the press release.
The program is affiliated with the University of Botswana, a comprehensive institution of higher learning with an undergraduate enrollment of roughly 16,000, located in the capital city of Gaborone.
|Core Course: Regional Issues: Turmoil and Tenacity in Southern Africa since Colonialism||
|Intensive Language: Setswana and Sesotho||
|Directed Independent Study Project||
Coursework in Southern Africa area studies or development studies.
Students must be in good academic standing.
Fall: Early August to mid-December
Spring: Mid-January to late May/early June
Full Year: Early August to early June – contact the Office of Study Abroad for details
The Core Course
Regional Issues: Turmoil and Tenacity in Southern Africa since Colonialism
This course offers students the opportunity to study the cultural, historical, social, political, religious, environmental and conservation issues that shape and connect the region and national development in each of the three countries. In each location, students participate in a series of lectures given by university faculty and specialists from governmental and non-governmental organizations, study trips to areas of historical, cultural and environmental importance, host family stays, and community service projects when appropriate. A series of writing assignments asks students to integrate readings and lectures with the more experiential components of family stays, internship, and study trips to explore important issues from the host culture perspective and deepen their cross cultural learning.
View the Southern Africa Core Course Syllabus
Intensive Language Study: Setswana and Sesotho
This course provides students with an opportunity to develop a basic level of communicative proficiency in Setswana and its sister language, Sesotho. The course emphasizes proficiency in speaking and listening through a highly communicative, interactive language curriculum that is closely connected to the homestay experience and other field activities.
In Botswana, students study intensive Setswana for four hours each day while living in the village of Manyana with Setswana speaking host families and engage in lectures, study trips and field exercises in the afternoons. During the second month of the program students study Sesotho, a language that is closely related to Setswana, while living with Sotho speaking families in Soweto in Johannesburg.
Directed Independent Study Project
Students explore a topic of interest through a directed independent study. Projects are guided by local scholars, specialists, or program staff and may take the form of a research project (ethnographic research, environmental analysis, field ecology etc.), an apprenticeship (with an artist, craftsperson, dance troupe, theater group, etc.), an internship (with an NGO, government office, school, etc.) or work in the vaccine institute at the University of Botswana (for students with appropriate science backgrounds). For any of these projects, a significant analytical component in the form of a written report (and in some cases a film or other media studies format) provides the documentation of learning. This is the part of the program where students can often do something that counts towards their major that would be impossible to do on their home campus – often a great opportunity to begin work on a senior thesis. Students may pursue their topic in any of the three countries. View a list of independent study projects.
The program provides students an opportunity to integrate hands-on experiential learning in the field with more traditional forms of learning (lectures and readings) to arrive at a deeper, integrated understanding of important local and regional topics and issues. To help achieve this goal, students participate in a number of study trips in each country. In Zimbabwe, students will visit Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest protected area that is home to more than 100 mammal species that includes lions, leopards and Rhinos, and Matopo National Park, a UNSESCO World Heritage Center located near Bulawayo that tells of a story of man’s uninterrupted association and relationship with his environment. In South Africa, students will explore Pretoria and Johannesburg, study race relations and post-Apartheid South Africa through visits to Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park, attend a rugby or soccer match, and visit Krueger National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve to study two contrasting styles of big game management. In Botswana, students will examine the amazing progress made in HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment through the Baylor Clinic, reflect on important issues of social justice at Ditshwanelo Center for Human Rights, learn about local and traditional governance from the Chief of Manyana, and study big game conversation and tourism in the Okavanga Delta and Chobe National Park.
Students explore a topic of interest through an independent study. Projects are guided by local scholars, specialists, or program staff and may take the form of a research project (ethnographic research, environmental analysis, field ecology etc.), an apprenticeship (with an artist, craftsperson, dance troupe, theater group, etc.), an internship (with an NGO, government office, school, etc.) or work in the vaccine institute at the University of Botswana (for students with appropriate science backgrounds). For any of these projects, a significant analytical component in the form of a written report (and in some cases a film or other media studies format) provides the documentation of learning. This is the part of the program where students can often do something that counts towards their major that would be impossible to do on their home campus – often a great opportunity to begin work on a senior thesis. Students may pursue their topic in any of the three countries.
The heart of the Pitzer in Southern Africa: Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe program is the opportunity to live with a host family in each of the three countries. Host families serve as important co-educators on the program, not only for language and culture learning, but also as a way to allow students to further explore ideas and issues that are presented in lectures and readings.
The Botswana homestay takes place in the village of Manyana, about one hour outside of Gaborone. Most families are involved in seasonal farming activities focused primarily around sorghum, maize, and cattle. Often men from the village have jobs in Gaborone or as far away as South Africa. Pitzer has a strong relationship with the community members as well as the Kgosi (Chief) and students quickly settle into the rhythms and hospitality of village life while participating fully in the community.
Students live with host families in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto, the heart of anti-Apartheid struggles in the 1960s. Soweto was and continues to be a hive of activity that presents an ideal location for learning about post-Apartheid South Africa.
Homestays will be based in Harare’s so called middle density suburbs, which provide easy access to the City’s social and cultural center. Students live with professional families that provide a window into many of the issues facing Zimbabwe today.
Director, Pitzer in Botswana
Batsirai Chidzodzo received his BA from the University of Zimbabwe and holds a Diploma in Personnel Management from the Institute of Personnel Management of Zimbabwe. He also holds an MBA from De Montfort University, where he was recognized for his thesis focusing on the flight of intellectual capital from Zimbabwe.
A native of Zimbabwe, Batsirai has spent over ten years working with U.S. study abroad programs in Zimbabwe and Botswana. Between 1995 and 2000 he worked as Pitzer’s Language and culture instructor-cum-coordinator on our Zimbabwean program and I know that he has ensured the success of many Pitzer faculty. In the year 2000 he moved with the program to Botswana where he worked as our assistant director before leaving to start and direct the CIEE program at the University of Botswana. For five years at CIEE he was instrumental in setting up not just the semester program but also the summer public health program and an International Faculty Development Seminar for faculty coming from the USA to Botswana. When he left CIEE he came back and is currently the Pitzer in Southern Africa: Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe Program Director. Batsirai’s research interests include the history and politics of Southern Africa in relation to global political history.