Pitzer in Botswana


Pitzer College in Botswana offers students an in-depth, cross-cultural learning experience organized around a challenging schedule of language training in Setswana, field projects and a core course on Botswana and regional development. Students live with host families and have the opportunity to pursue independent research and internships.

One of Africa’s most politically and economically stable countries, Botswana is home to more than 2 million people and 226,900 square miles of vast savannas, the Kalahari Desert, and world famous wildlife parks. Botswana’s citizens, most of whom live in the major cities, towns, and villages along the eastern border, enjoy standards of education and economic well-being rivaled on the continent only by neighboring South Africa.

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.


Host Institution

botswana-universityThe 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.

Contemporary Socio-cultural Issues in Botswana
Intensive Setswana Language
Directed Independent Study Project
Suggested Preparation
Coursework in Southern Africa area studies or development studies.
Students must be in good academic standing.
Program Dates
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

Contemporary Socio-cultural Issues in Botswana
As the headquarters for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Botswana offers you a singular opportunity to study cultural, historical, social, and environmental issues that shape and connect national and regional development. The core course combines a series of lectures given by university faculty and specialists from governmental and non-governmental organizations, readings, and extensive reflective writing of the Fieldbook with the more experiential program components of family stays, fieldwork, and study trips to provide a high degree of cultural immersion and cross-cultural learning.

View the Botswana Core Course Syllabus

Intensive Setswana Language
Setswana, the national language of Botswana along with English, is widely spoken in everyday interactions. You will study Setswana intensively in a course that emphasizes proficiency in speaking and listening. The combination of active classroom learning and daily interactions with your host family and the people in the village allows you to build a level of Setswana that will open doors to communities and relationships throughout your stay in Botswana.

Directed Independent Study Project
You will explore in-depth an aspect of Botswana through a directed independent study. Projects are guided by local scholars, specialists, and program staff and may take the form of a research tutorial, independent study or apprenticeship in the arts or an internship with a placement in a school, a non-governmental agency or a private sector company. A significant analytical component in the form of a written report provides the documentation of learning. The program strongly recommends you select a project that involves field research, oral interviews, ethnography, and other techniques that facilitate cultural immersion over those involving library research. Topic selection may be limited due to available resources and local conditions. View a list of independent study projects.

Study Trips - Expanded to Zimbabwe and South Africa for fall 2015

To deepen your understanding of topics covered in the core course, you will travel to various locations in Botswana and nearby countries. Destinations may change from semester to semester.

Zimbabwe and South Africa – Expanded regional study trips for fall 2015

In order to provide a regional context for what students are learning in Botswana, and to get a sense of the multiple ways countries in the Southern Africa Region choose to approach issues that are common across borders, students will take extended study trips to Zimbabwe and South Africa where they will explore such issues as big game conservation and tourism, HIV-AIDS and health care, poverty, the colonial legacy, development, race and power. In Zimbabwe, students will visit Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Bulawayo, and Matopos National Park. In South Africa, students will explore Pretoria, Soweto, attend a rugby or soccer match, and visit Madikwe Game Reserve. Upon returning to Gaborone, students will be asked to reflect on their learning in a major paper in which they will analyze how one particular issue plays out across the three countries.


Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland water systems and is Botswana’s most famous tourist destination. The Delta provides a refuge to huge concentrations of flora and fauna that will provide students with an opportunity to learn about wetlands management, community based natural resources use and management. The Delta coupled with Chobe National Park in Kasane which is rated as one of Botswana’s best wildlife destinations, will give a comprehensive opportunity for students to learn about big game ecology in Botswana.

Local Trips

Visits in and around Gaborone have included the National Botanical Garden and History Centre, Gabane and Thamanga Pottery, and the Livingstone Memorial Monument.

Independent Study Projects

Botswana Independent Study Project Titles

Ditholwana and Traditional Dance in Botswana

Press Freedom

The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency: Building Business People in Maun, Botswana

Reggae Music and Political Expression

3P Production and Botswana’s 40 Years of Independence

Understanding the Limitations of Building and Consolidating the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions

SAPSSI Activities and Boitumelo Mo Nageng Kids Camps for Orphans and Vulnerable Children: An in-Depth Reflection of Activities and Experiences

The Youth Health Organization: Sharing Experiences

Interning with the Youth Health Organization (YOHO), on Tour with the Dzalabana Bosole Arts Festival

Paediatric HIV Care in Botswana: The Revolutionary Impact of Botswana-Baylor Children’s Center of Excellence

Apprenticeship: Basketweaving in Village of Etsha

Gender and the Perpetuation of HIV/AIDS in Botswana

Kg’ao: Do the Arrows still have power?

Bonela: New Insurance Schemes

Internship with Center for African Resource: Animals, Communities and Land use (CARACAL), Chobe National Park-Kwando-Linyanti Wetlands, Chobe, Botswana

Languages of the Okavango Delta

Don’t Vote BDP: Democracy In Botswana


Students live with families for the entire program except on study trips.

Family Stays

botswana-family-stayThe heart of the Pitzer in Botswana program is the opportunity to live with three different host families representing various parts of the country and key socioeconomic groups. The chance to become a part of each of these families and develop a personal relationship with individual family members is a distinct privilege and provides one of the most meaningful dimensions of the program.

Rural Family

The rural homestay takes place in a village 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. Homes are spacious and comfortable, usually equipped with electricity, TVs, sofas and modern kitchen amenities such as a stove and refrigerator. There is no indoor plumbing but most homes have a water facet in the yard and a well maintained outdoor latrine. 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.

Small Town (Big Motse)

The Big Motse homestay is arranged in one or more small towns along the eastern border of the country where most Batswana live. While the Big Motse still has many remnants of village life, it is essentially a small town with larger commercial areas, much more infrastructure, and significantly more government services and NGO presence than what is found in the village. Most families are middle to working class. Homes are similar to the village but usually a bit larger with indoor plumbing. .

student_childrenUrban Homestay

The city homestay takes place in Gaborone during the final one to two months of the program. Host families are usually from upper-middle class and professional occupations although some continue to be working class. Many families have cars and homes have most of the amenities US students are used to. Here you are able to take part in urban lifestyles that, while, “urbanized,” are finally intelligible only when the Botswana context – provided in the rural and big motse components – is considered.

Meet the Director

Batsirai Chidzodzo
Director, Pitzer in Botswana

CL 10MA15 LB Batsirai Chidzodzo (4) Batsirai Chidzodzo

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 is currently the Pitzer in Botswana Program Director. Batsirai’s research interests include the history and politics of Southern Africa in relation to global political history.