Solidarity & Community-Led Transformation in South Africa

Solidarity & Community-Led Transformation in South Africa — About

About Solidarity & Community-Led Transformation in South Africa

The people of South Africa—through communal solidarity, struggle, and wisdom—have helped many to live from the inside out, to achieve a deep sense of meaning and a zeal for life. Their story of overcoming the brutal Apartheid era (1948–1994) is unfinished, yet their spirit to endure is essential to our understanding of human possibility.

Though the magnificence of South Africa’s people and landscapes is vast, visitors often “ignore the view” by overlooking the juxtaposition between acute poverty in the townships and immensely affluent neighborhoods (built for and by the white minority during Apartheid). Mindful visitors often put into question the “free market” and recognize that Apartheid’s history of racism and classism still exists in all fabrics of life; and many Westerners try to assist through service or volunteerism without fostering real change. In Africa, “service” is a billion-dollar industry. Abuse by Western volunteer organizations and other programs has been overwhelming, which has included half-finished work, time and resources drained from communities, and unchanged “volunteers.” But, do we do nothing?

Course Description

In this Global Seminar, explore the dynamics of power, privilege, and repression through social justice advocacy and scholarly analysis of the “oppressive savior complex.”

For a more detailed overview of this course, see the Academics tab.

Housing & Meals

Live in shared student housing with other program participants. A welcome and farewell meal, as well as meals while on the three-day Educo Africa retreat in the Grootwinterhoek Wilderness Area, are provided. Take additional meals in the housing or at local eateries.


Excursions will assist in illuminating the program coursework and take place in Cape Town, South Africa, and surrounding areas. Excursions include visits to Robben Island, Table Mountain, Iziko Slave Lodge, Saint George’s Cathedral Crypt Memory and Witness Center, a social community education project in the nearby township of Bellville South, and a three-day experiential learning retreat in the Grootwinterhoek Wilderness Area.

Group Flight

All program participants will take the coordinated group flight to and from the program site. The cost of the group flight is included in the program fee that will be posted to your student account. Do not book your own flight. You will receive information from the Learning Abroad Center about your seat on the group flight once your participation has been confirmed. 

Learning Outcomes

Faculty & Staff

This program is led by Nathan Whittaker, Senior Academic Adviser for TRIO in the College of Education and Human Development and Community Adjunct Professor in the Social Justice Minor. In the early 2000s, he lived in Cape Town, South Africa, where he worked with youth in a post-Apartheid context. He returns to Cape Town frequently. Today, he is the Director of International Programs for Building Bridges, an after-school program in Cape Town. 

About the Learning Abroad Center

Learning Abroad Center programs are:

This program now has a waiting list.