Course Offerings 
  • COSA (Community Organizing and Social Activism) in South Africa
  • Apartheid's Footprint: South Africa Today
  • Community Health and Engagement: Volunteer Development, Social Enterprise and Justice in South Africa
  • Independent Study
* Some courses may not be offered during a given term. Please inquire. 
Travel and Excursions that Broaden Your Perspective
Travel is an essential part of studying abroad. Taking knowledge from the classroom and applying it through direct observation allows for greater classroom comprehension and cultural understanding.


Excursions MAY Include:

Cape Town City Tour

Get your bearings and find pout how to navigate your new home while seeing the important highlights of the city.


Table Mountain National Park

Created from massive beds of sandstone and slate, the mountain forms the northern end of the Cape Peninsula.

City Museums

Iziko Museums of South Africa comprises 11 museums covering a wide array of topics.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

In a beautiful setting on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain,the gardens  are part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Other Opportunities for independent Excursions

IPSL students in Cape Town may also work with program staff on-site to arrange for independent travel to other areas of South Africa and neighboring countries. As with all travel, weather and other travel hindrances can affect the exact destinations of excursions. In such cases, IPSL program staff make every effort to find suitable replacement itineraries.



The semester curriculum combines  COSA (Community Organizing & Social Activism) in South Africa and a Service-Learning Reflections & Practicum course along with exciting electives that frame the history of South Africa, it's challenges and opportunities  that help students to understand the South Africa of today.  All courses are taught in English.  

There are required courses and some electives. Students can take up to 15 semester credits. All courses are taught at the 300-level or above . Unless otherwise noted, each course carries 45 contact hours and 3 semester credits or 4.5 quarter credits.  Students earn an official  transcript for all courses successfully completed

Required Courses

COSA in South Africa (Community Organizing and Social Activism)

The focus of this course is to explore community organizing and social activism in Tanzania with the goal of learning how to effectively translate these ideas and techniques into a concrete knowledge of social activism (including a practical tool set and the development of a personal ethic of advocacy) that can be applied across cultures, countries, and efforts. The course starts with an overview of social change institutions, explores the history and ethics of international service and moves to the examination of past and current political and social movements and advocacy efforts in South Africa. Students will learn the theories and practical realities of intercultural service-learning in an African context. This course complements IPSL community service placements and helps students make sense of their international experience in order to develop their intercultural competence. Topics are examined through the prism of hands-on community service in African NGOs and other non-profits and include intercultural communication, the mechanics of African non-profits/NGOs, citizenship in Africa, local civic engagement/advocacy efforts and the exploration of civil society.

Elective Courses

Apartheid's Footprint: South Africa Today

This hands-on course examines the lived experiences of South Africans under, their struggle against, and the legacy of, the apartheid system. Apartheid’s antecedents were located in colonial South Africa racial segregation. Instituted in 1948 apartheid witnessed the codification and entrenchment of South African race relations culminating in the creation of an unprecedented race-riven socio-economic and political landscape. Local anti-apartheid resistance coupled with the international antiapartheid movements eventually led to the repeal of apartheid laws, negotiations for democracy and the first democratic elections in 1994. The anti-apartheid movement arguably represents one of the most important social movements of the twentieth century whose reverberations transcended race and political boundaries turning the South African struggle for civil and human rights into an international movement and Mandela into an international anti-apartheid icon. 


In this course we will examine all these developments and situate these facts in a modern-day South Africa that continues to struggle with the legacy of apartheid. While serving in the social services sector in Cape Town, students learn about a unique experiment in conflict resolution, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the AIDS crisis and other health-related issues, and South Africa's role in the region. As we cover these topics, lectures and discussion sessions will focus on the connections between the political and societal issues in this course with issues around creating a healthy community and economic justice.

Community Health and Engagement: Volunteer Development, Social Enterprise and Justice in South Africa

Through the interdisciplinary coursework in this program, students learn about contemporary public health issues in South Africa through hands-on training with IPSL’s partner organization in Cape Town, South Africa.
By uniting service with traditional learning, students gain knowledge about the historical, political, economic, cultural, and geographic forces that shape the history of public health interventions in South Africa.
The service places students at the nexus of Community-based Health, Social Enterprise, Volunteer Development, and the struggle for Social and Racial Justice. Through lectures from scholars and scholar-practitioners, readings, hands-on service, and selected site visits in the region, students critically examine topics related to health promotion and provision, traditional healing, rural health and social justice in South Africa. 

 *Please note that depending on enrollment some of these courses may not run.

Mailing Address:




Tel. +1.503.395.IPSL (4775)

Fax. +1.503.954.1881

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A Social-Benefit Organization