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SIT South Africa Community Health and Social Policy

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring

Location:

Durban, South Africa

Credit:

Transfer

Program Features

Affiliated Program
Research
Internship

Eligibility:

- 2.5 GPA

- Good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:

Spring 9/27

Fall 3/4

Taxi driving down street

SIT Study Abroad offers more than 60 accredited semester and summer study abroad programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. SIT also offers the International Honors Program, which is multi-locational.

The SIT Experience

  • Rigorous academic programs through a field-based, experiential approach
  • Undergraduate research through an Independent Study Project
  • Cultural immersion through fieldwork, language classes, and urban and rural homestays with local families
  • A small group of students in each program, supported by SIT faculty and staff, homestay families, in-country experts, and community members
  • Access to SIT's extensive local resources and networks
  • A commitment to reciprocity as the foundation of our educational philosophy

Academic Program

Examine community-based health concerns from a South African perspective, exploring the roles of the South African state, the media, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in mobilizing existing assets on a community level.

This program focuses on topics such as health communication strategies, prenatal care, access to healthcare, and health education. You will consider how various health paradigms — ranging from biomedical to holistic — and health policies have achieved mixed results in addressing the healthcare needs of South African people.

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

For more information, see SIT's webpage.

Program Structure

city view of durban buildings

Interdisciplinary Seminars

Thematic seminars merge student experience with academic theory to examine critical issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn from SIT faculty as well as guest lecturers from local universities, research institutes, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and community and professional associations. Field-based activities and assignments complement readings, discussions, and research papers, allowing students to engage in a variety of study methods.

Intensive Language Study

Programs typically offer language study at the intermediate and advanced levels and/or beginning instruction in a less commonly taught language spoken by the local community. Language courses incorporate formal classroom instruction, discussion, and field exercises designed to enhance student engagement while improving oral and written competence. Select programs are taught entirely or partly in the target language.

Research Methods and Ethics

Students learn appropriate methodologies that prepare them to undertake fieldwork on topics connected to the program’s theme and specific cultural context. Students develop research skills and approaches including cross-cultural adaptation and skill building; project selection and refinement; contact and resource cultivation; observation and interviewing skills; gathering, organizing, and presenting findings; and maintaining a field journal. Students also examine the ethics and impact of their research on local communities and are required to follow the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy, which serves as an approval process and guide for ethical field study practices.

Independent Study Project (ISP)

Typically conducted during the last month of the semester, the ISP allows students to pursue original field-based research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The academic director advises each student on developing a project plan. Students also identify an ISP advisor who works with the student on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the student’s research project. Final projects generally include a 20- to 40-page paper and presentation to peers, academic staff, and interested members of the host community.

University of Iowa students who complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) must follow University of Iowa Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures. For more information on the Iowa IRB process please visit the Undergraduate Research Abroad webpage. An additional pre-departure orientation session, hosted by the Iowa IRB, will be offered on campus to help answer questions and ensure compliance.

Cultural Activities

DURBAN HOSPITALS OR CLINICS: Visit hospitals and clinics in Durban in small groups to observe the varied quality of healthcare facilities, as well as the frequently heroic work of dedicated health professionals who aim to provide the best service they can, often under difficult circumstances.

SPECIAL-NEEDS SCHOOLS: South Africa’s apartheid government established special-needs schools for whites only. Most of these have since been transformed into multiracial schools, but the new schools are still insufficient in the face of increasing demand. The government wants to move toward inclusion, closing specialized schools and having students attend regular schools. Survey resources, challenges, and benefits associated with special-needs schools, and discuss the costs and benefits of special education.

NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS: Visit NGOs that deliver health services in areas that are challenging for the government, particularly when offered on a small scale and in holistic ways. In the past, NGOs like The Valley Trust offered healthcare to black communities neglected by the apartheid government. Today, these NGOs offer 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 and respond to the HIV epidemic.

Program Dates

Spring Semester: Late January - Mid May

Fall Semester: Early September - Mid-December

For more information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with SIT, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa. 
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.
  


Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353
Email: study-abroad@uiowa.edu

Durban, South Africa

Harbor in Durban

In Durban, health services range from traditional healers to state-of-the-art hospitals. The city 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.

In this context, you will be challenged to articulate Durban and South Africa’s health complexities in a balanced way. You will learn how to be critical consumers of medical research papers and media reports on health. You will also be encouraged to think more broadly about the perceived dichotomy between Western and traditional medical practices and to appreciate the importance of acceptability and accessibility.

Safety

Skyline buildings in Durban

SIT places the highest priority on the health, safety, and security of all students. Through their 80-plus years of running international experiential education programs, they have developed sophisticated proactive and reactive risk management strategies. Their proactive risk management begins with in-country assessments of safety and continues through student orientation and emergency preparedness. Their reactive risk management strategies include 24/7 on-call availability, emergency/crisis response protocols, and comprehensive student insurance. Their structure also allows for rapid response and adjustment to changing situations.
South Africa Travel Information

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Victoria Street Market with stales selling goods
Victoria Street Market

Living with South African families is one of the most important and meaningful aspects of the program. In the homestays, you will learn more about the issues facing Zulu South Africans and develop relationships across lines of nation, class, and/or ethnicity. You will consider the need for health interventions for the majority of South Africans who cannot afford private healthcare and also consider the issue of healthcare accessibility and acceptability.

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 ten 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.

You will also experience three additional short (three-night) homestays in the rural areas of Umthwalume, Nzinga, and Sandanezwe. You will stay in pairs with a variety of families. The homestay site of 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 quite far from the nearest hospital, raising interesting questions about healthcare access for its 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.

Educational Excursions

Buildings along beachfront

Durban Hospitals and Clinics

You will visit a number of hospitals or clinics in Durban, in small groups. This is an opportunity to directly observe the varying quality of healthcare facilities, invariably noting the great work done by 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 schools have since 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 (NGOs)

You will visit a number of NGOs that deliver health services in spaces that the government does not. 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; presently, these NGOs continue to provide services working in tandem with government and funders in areas that are difficult to operate in. Other NGOs, including Onevoice, work in government schools to complement the life skills programs in the curriculum and make an impact regarding behavioral changes necessitated by the HIV epidemic.

Passport

US Citizens

If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Important notice for students without a valid passport or whose passport will expire within the next 12 months:

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Students without a valid passport should apply for a new passport or a passport renewal as early as possible.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for the visa you will need to enter your host country.

Expedited processing service is available for US passports (although this still takes several weeks and is at an additional cost). UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-US Citizens

Students who are not US citizens should contact Ryan Ourada (ryan-ourada@uiowa.edu) for information on how to ensure that their passport is valid for the duration of their time abroad.

Flights

Students will work with their program provider to make travel arrangements to their program site. The cost of travel is not included in the course fee. UI Study Abroad will not arrange a group flight to your study abroad destination.

Do not purchase plane tickets until you have received instructions on how to do so from your program provider.

Local Transportation

Within your host city and around the country, students will utilize public transportation such as buses and trains. Excursions and general travel require a lot of walking, so bring some comfortable shoes!

Eligibility

Students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and be in good academic and disciplinary standing. You must be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university at the end of the semester, too. If you are not in good standing at the end of the semester, your acceptance will be revoked and you will be responsible for the associated withdrawal fees.

Costs

PDFCost Sheet 2020

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Upfront, out-of-pocket expenses

Some costs are incurred prior to departure and will be due before financial aid/scholarships disperse. Here are the expected upfront costs for SIT:

  • Iowa application fee: $50
  • Airfare: $1,000-$1,500
  • Passport: $135

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.

SIT automatically gives students from Big Ten institutions a $1,500 scholarship. There is no application necessary — the amount is automatically credited to your account. SIT offers additional awards that can be found on SIT's webpage.

Pell Grant Recipients will have their application fee waived by SIT, are eligible for additional SIT scholarships, and are competitive candidates for the Department of State's Gilman Scholarship. Please talk to your Study Abroad Advisor for more details.

Withdrawal policy

SIT's withdrawal policy can be found here: Withdrawal and Cancellation. After applying and being accepted students will then be asked to confirm their participation in the program. After confirmation, students are responsible for the following:

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
After submitting the Confirmation of Participation Study Abroad Administrative fee: $400
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT
Less than 30 days before the program start date Study Abroad Administrative fee: $400 or 50%, whichever is greater
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT
On or after the program start date Study Abroad Administrative fee: 100%
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Application Deadline

Spring: September 27

Fall: March 4

How to Apply

You can find the application for this program on our website here: UI Study Abroad Application. Applicants must meet with a Study Abroad advisor before their application will be processed. You can schedule a meeting by calling 319.335.0353.

Participants must also complete the SIT application and complete all the application components by SIT's deadline. The SIT application can be found here: SIT Application.

Acceptance and Confirmation Materials

Coming soon.

Health & Safety Planning

In addition to submitting their Confirmation of Participation form, students should review the following:

Study Abroad Resources

Passports and Visas

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the PDFHealth Preparation Guide for International Travel form with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

For more information about receiving financial aid while studying abroad, please review the following:UI Financial Aid Information

You can find more information about options for funding your study abroad experience including scholarships on Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad.

In addition, take a look at SIT Scholarship website for information about scholarships offered directly through your program provider.

Visa

U.S. passport holders should follow the Visa batch process instructions provided by SIT. Make sure to submit all required documents by the submission deadline. Otherwise you will have to apply for your student visa independently.

U.S. Citizens will need a student visa if they are going abroad for a semester, or academic year. Typically, they will not need a visa for the summer sessions.

UI Study Abroad will hold advising appointments and/or information sessions to provide details on the visa application process. UI Study Abroad staff can provide some assistance on the Italian visa application process, but ultimately the individual traveler (the student) is the person who is responsible for providing correct information on the visa application and securing the visa and all other required documentation prior to travel.

Prior to starting the visa application process check in with SIT for more information; they have a preferred timeline that students need to follow.

Orientation

In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course "Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation" prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email safety-abroad@uiowa.edu

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

Pre departure Resources

SIT will provide you with a variety of pre-departure resources to prepare you for your study abroad experience. These will include a packing list, cultural information, housing instructions, etc. Ensure that you thoroughly review any information provided to you by SIT and refer back to it if you have any questions.

These materials may be periodically updated to reflect new program information prior to departure. Be sure to check your SIT Account often.