This is a ten-week, 15-credit program that will take place in the Dwesa-Cwebe nature reserve of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The program encompasses disciplines ranging from earth sciences, ecology and land use management to community relations, livelihoods assessment, indigenous knowledge systems and entrepreneurship. It brings together the natural and social sciences in projects that address issues of community and human development, environmental protection and health, water, food and energy security as these relate to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Penn State students will travel to South Africa, take classes, and conduct research and service projects in the parks and in the communities that surround them. During the 10 weeks, Penn State students will be joined at different times by students and staff from several partner universities in South Africa as well as nature reserve staff and local community members. The program is directed by Penn State faculty and courses will be taught by Penn State faculty in collaboration with South African faculty.
The 9 credits of course work (400-level) will cover the physical geology and geography of South Africa, its cultural and political history, ecology and land management. The remaining 6 credits focus on research and service.
Spring 2015 Course Offerings
Housing and Meals
Financial Aid & Scholarships
How to Apply
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Courses offered for the Spring 2016 semester include:
GEOG 498B (3 credits)
Focuses on the livelihoods associated with various communities within South Africa with a focus on Afrikaans, Xhosa, and English communities. The course will also address challenges of urban and rural communities and the availability, accessibility and utilization of natural resources by these communities. In addition, the course will look at the implications of development initiatives on local livelihoods and opportunities for sustainable
development to reduce pressures on the natural environment.
GEOG 498C (3 credits)
Focuses on the impacts of South Africa's social and political history on the current social and physical landscape. The course will also assess crucial pieces of literature written by South Africans about South Africa, and how various writers, artists and movie directors have portrayed South Africa throughout its history. This course will challenge students to articulate social, ecological, political and economic challenges in a variety of written formats intended for multiple audiences.
GEOG 498D (3 credits)
A project-based course and students will be provided with tools necessary for conducting ecological and social assessment plans as well as developing research proposals that address challenges related to human-environment interactions.
GEOG 498E (3 credits)
Focus on identifying challenges and opportunities for sustainable food production in the area.
GEOG 498F (3 credits)
Introduces students to South Africa's physical landscape by focusing on the various biomes found within South Africa. Students will learn about, experience and discuss the climate, soil, vegetation, biodiversity, primary human impacts associated with each biome and the environmental services that are provided by these systems.
For photos from the spring 2010 program, visit the Parks and People Facebook group.
You will receive credit for all academic courses taken on this program, and all of your grades from abroad will count toward your Penn State cumulative GPA. You may not take any courses overseas of a Pass/Fail basis.To learn how the courses on this program can work into your individual degree audit, meet with your academic adviser.
Students may not fulfill GHA (General Health and Activity) general education requirements abroad.
Housing and Meals
Students will live in basic park accommodations within the nature reserves. Meals are available in the park accommodations dining room.
For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the Spring budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.
Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.
Financial Aid & Scholarships
Penn State students studying through Education Abroad can use most components of their existing financial aid packages toward the cost of study abroad. This may include federal and state grants, VA educational benefits, federal student loans, and University scholarships and grants. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships.
The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.
For More Information
For more information about programs and education abroad at Penn State, we encourage you to meet with or contact our Peer Advisers. These study abroad returnees can explain program options, give an overview of the education abroad process, as well as provide information about his/her program. If you are not at University Park, contact your Campus Global Representative.
To learn more about the specifics of the program contact the faculty leader for the program, Neil Brown or, schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for the program.
For the inside scoop on life in a foreign country, be sure to check out the GeoBlogs of Penn State students currently studying abroad.
How to Apply
If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page. You must complete the following materials in your application: