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South Africa: Globalization, the Environment and Society

The Macalester-Pomona-Swarthmore Consortium Program at the University of Cape Town

History, Location, and Overview

The Consortium Program, launched in 2004, offers students of Macalester, Pomona, and Swarthmore Colleges (and their affiliated institutions) the opportunity to study the environment and complex, multi-cultural society of South Africa against a background of globalization and rapid technological change.

The program takes place at the University of Cape Town, a world-class institution where academic staff, in consultation with those from the consortium colleges, have developed a curriculum that meets the high academic standards of our schools while at the same time facilitating the challenge of living and studying in a foreign country. The program is hosted by the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science (EGS) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), which has an internationally respected student-faculty team with strong areas of interest in research in urban and rural dynamics, geopolitics, global development, earth systems, sustainability and climate change. Cape Town itself is a breathtakingly beautiful city nestled against Table Mountain at the southwestern tip of Africa. 

In January and February, prior to the start of courses at UCT, students on the program participate in a specially-designed core seminar titled “Interrogating Southern African Landscapes.” The 2023 core seminar will be led by Dr. Shari Daya, Senior Lecturer in the EGS department, with Dr. Pippin Anderson, Associate Professor in EGS, and a (rotating) Visiting Consortium Professor from one of the three partner institutions. 

The core seminar includes two Environmental & Geographical Science honors (fourth year) students from the University of Cape Town. Past honors participants have come not only from South Africa, but also Mauritius and neighboring Zimbabwe and Lesotho. These students help their American peers to settle into the program, to UCT, and to the wider Cape Town environment, and provide the vital testimony of local experience to the issues frequently discussed both in class and beyond. The course is interdisciplinary, including readings that relate to Southern African history, conservation practice, culture, and economic processes in both urban and rural contexts.

In addition to the core seminar, each student completes a directed study project (DSP) that requires independent research, generally with an element of field study, overseen by a faculty mentor at UCT. The consortium students also take 1-2 regular UCT semester courses as electives, thus providing them with the opportunity to learn alongside regular UCT students.

Since its inaugural session in 2004, more than 180 consortium students have enrolled in and completed this program. Many have found the experience personally and academically transformative. Students frequently use work completed as part of the program as a basis for a senior capstone or honors thesis. Some have even returned to Cape Town to pursue graduate studies or professional work.

Guiding Concepts of the Program

Globalization is a dynamic, multifaceted and complex process that has arguably accelerated in the last 30 years. Goods, services, technologies, people, ideas, and cultural elements from different countries regularly cross borders and drive local conditions, which in turn drive global trends. In specific settings, forces of globalization are characterized by multiple, simultaneous, and uneven developments; social movements and institutions determine the specific realities of globalization. Case studies are used in our program to help students better understand this process.

The second key concept for this program is the Environment. Work at UCT engages students in an exploration of what the natural and built environments mean and how this has been expressed over time and across cultures. It explores the heritage and diverse human interactions with, and attitudes toward, the natural and built environments in South Africa. In addition to these conceptual engagements, the City of Cape Town sits in a biodiversity hotspot due to the high diversity in endemic flora in the region which is significantly threatened and this important local contextual feature is a part of field trips and discussion. 

The third key concept for this program is Society. Humans are a social species, and we have evolved to live with and depend on other humans. Human interdependence translates into living with others, or in society. At a minimum this means a group of humans living together whose interactions together are patterned in regular ways. This course explores groups that may be identified by the territory they inhabit or used to inhabit, the languages they speak, or the customs they follow, as well as ways that all of these features are in flux, in part in response to globalizing forces. 

Core course field trips include a week-long road-trip to explore the unique and contrasting environments of the Western Cape and a weekend in the glorious Cederberg mountains. Other more local excursions enrich the environmental and societal focus for students, including Table Mountain National Park and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The fascinating historical roots of the urban area around UCT are also explored through a City Tour, which includes a walk through the famous Bo Kaap Afro-Islamic neighborhood, exploration of the Old Dutch colonial, administrative and banking city center, and a visit to UCT’s theater and arts campus, as well as visits to local museums documenting South Africa’s apartheid history, legacies and democratic transition.

South Africa Faculty and Staff


Pippin Anderson, Resident Director
Associate Professor Anderson joined the EGS Department at University of Cape Town in 2008. She teaches urban ecology at the postgraduate level, and biogeography at the undergraduate level. Her research sits in the nexus between landscape ecology and restoration; understanding system function at the landscape level to inform recovery to meet conservation and land use agendas. The rationale for her research has always been based on a desire to inform the human well-being and livelihood elements of landscape use and simultaneously in achieving conservation ends. She finds this frequently contested space both stimulating and exacting. She draws on a variety of methods and combines a number of theoretical areas in her research including community ecology, ecosystem services, plant functional types, landscape history, conservation biology, urban ecology and restoration ecology. While her empirical work is at a local scale, she has drawn on some of this work towards regional reflection. A lesser research interest, borne out of the particular nature of her broader interests, is in the area of transdisciplinarity. She also has a strong interest in teaching academic writing.


Shari Daya, Assistant Director and Co-Instructor of GES Core Module

Associate Professor Daya joined the Environmental and Geographical Science Department at the University of Cape Town in 2008 and serves as the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department.  She holds a PhD in Cultural Geography from Durham University, UK, and is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography with strong interests in identity and modernity in Africa and India. Her recent research projects explore   the ways in which food, ethical judgments and identity intersect in the everyday lives of middle-class, urban South Africans. Originally a literary scholar, Shari is also intrigued by the ways in which places, especially cities, are represented in fiction, biography and other narratives, and she continues to explore the overlaps between literature and geography in her writing and teaching. Shari has supervised a number of DSPs over the years, including most recently projects on the economies of art galleries in Cape Town, sustainable consumption marketing in South Africa, and representations of blackness in digital media.


Dan Trudeau, Co-Instructor of GES Core Module (2004)

Trudeau is Professor and Chair of the Geography Department at Macalester College. An urban social geographer, he is particularly in ways that social, political, legal, and economic processes influence city life and landscapes, as well as the ways that people and organizations create meaningful places and landscapes through participation in such processes.  Trudeau developed an interest in qualitative methods while completing his undergraduate degree in Anthropology, and later honed these interests in my graduate work, pursuing advanced degrees in geography (MA at SUNY Buffalo and Ph.D. at the University of Colorado at Boulder). He continue to specialize in qualitative research and its use in mixed-methods research.His scholarship focuses on the themes of access and exile and relates specifically to the roles of city planning and public policy in shaping urban development. His research explores the interactions between the built environment and social inequality and support efforts to promote more just, equitable, and inclusive cities. 


Dr. Jore (Johanna) von Holdt, Convener of Directed Study Project

von Holdt has a PhD completed in Environmental and Geographical Sciences, with a focus on natural dust emission from desert regions in Southern Africa. Her primary research expertise is on particulate matter, of both natural and anthropogenic origin, and the various processes that drive its movement and how to manage associated air quality. Through her cross-disciplinary research, she has developed diverse ties across sectors.  At UCT, she has worked with Engineering, Biological Sciences, Health Sciences; she is also well networked in the mining sector. Von Holdt’s methodology ranges from in-field sampling to citizen science engagements to remote sensing and system modeling. 


Molly Anderson, Student Affairs Coordinator

Anderson joined the program in 2019 as one of the South African students, and was Student Affairs Coordinator in 2020 and 2022. Much of Molly’s time off campus is spent volunteering in arts, environment, and educational programs, where she is able to explore her interests in accessibility, learning, interdisciplinary practice and intersectional politics. Molly enjoys good chats about life and literature, being outdoors, hiking, plants, food and lounging in hammocks. Having been born-and-bred in Cape Town, she looks forward to sharing this beautiful and challenging city with you, and hopes she can be of assistance.


Kolosa Ntombini, Assistant Student Affairs Coordinator

Ntombini is a PhD student interested in spatial justice in South Africa. When not writing or tutoring, you can find Kolosa reading poetry with a cuppa tea (or wine depending on the day) in hand. On even better days, you’ll probably find her at a poetry event or a play. ​​​​​

Program Calendar


Below as a reference are the dates for the 2024 program, which are subject to change as needed in response to local factors.


Tuesday, January 2 or Wednesday, January 3 

(Travel itineraries must be submitted in advance. Students will be met at the Cape Town airport by program staff.)

City Tour Thursday, January 4 
Program Orientation Thursday, January 4 (evening)
Core Course Starts Friday, January 5
Peninsula Tour Saturday, January 6
Core Course Excursion

Leaving Thursday, January 11, returning to Cape Town on Wednesday, January 17

Core Course Ends Early February
Core Module Final Exam To be confirmed
University Orientation

Monday, February 5 to Friday, February 9. Organized by the International Academic Programmes Office  (IAPO) of the University of Cape Town

University Courses Regular University courses begin Monday, February 12
University Break

Saturday, March 23 to Sunday, March 31.  (Time to work on Directed Study Project fieldwork.)

Last day of UCT Lectures Wednesday, May 15
Exam Review Days Thursday, May 16 - Wednesday, May 22
University Exams Thursday, May 23 - Friday, June 12
End of UCT Term Friday, June 12
Latest date to depart housing ** Sunday, June 14

*Students must plan their flights to arrive on the arrival date(s). No late arrivals will be allowed as the academic portion of the program begins immediately.  Students arriving early will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation until moving into program housing on the arrival date(s).

**Program housing ends shortly after the last day of final exams. Students staying later will be responsible for paying for their own housing beyond the program end date.

Pre-Departure Requirements

Pre-departure Orientation

Students will be provided with a "Student Handbook" that will provide guidelines on health/safety, as well as practical matters, and recommendations on local attractions.  Additionally, all students will be invited to participate in an online orientation (November/December) that will convene incoming participants along with the in-country faculty/staff.  

Pre-departure Readings

Given the transdisciplinary nature of the program and the varied academic majors of student participants, it is essential that participants read selectively on South Africa, on the overall program theme, and on their particular academic interests. Although students may choose additional books, the consortium recommends that all students read Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime: Stories from South African Childhood (2016) prior to departure. Students are responsible for purchasing their own copies of the pre-departure reading. The book by Trevor Noah is available in print or as an audiobook (read by Trevor Noah himself). The expectation from faculty is that the class can begin its first week of discussions based upon this preliminary reading.

Other good starting points might include:

  • Sisonke Msimang’s Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home
  • Julia Martin’s A Millimetre of Dust
  • Jacob Dlamini’s Safari Nation
  • Kopano Matlwa’s Coconut
  • The Promise by Damon Galgut
Core Seminar: Interrogating Southern African Landscapes


In addition to the pre-departure reading, students will receive various readings and text on-site in Cape Town, which must be read during the January-February core seminar. These do not have to be read in advance of the start of the course in early January.  The core seminar is scheduled to begin in early January at UCT.

The first two weeks the core seminar will be taught principally by the 2024 Visiting Consortium Professor Dan Trudeau. This portion of the course provides students with frameworks to interrogate South Africa’s human geography. The seminar draws on the pre-departure reading, and readings distributed upon arrival in South Africa. Students will be encouraged to begin to incorporate experiences and readings beyond the course to set them on a path toward constructing a deeper understanding of South Africa and the factors that continue to shape it. 

Associate Professor Daya will lead the remaining weeks of the core class together with Associate Professor Anderson.  The seminar will focus on some of the historical, ecological and cultural dynamics of the landscapaes of the Western Cape, culminating in considering the urban landscapes in Cape Town. Through reading, discussion, and field-based excursions in and around Cape Town, you will unpack some of the spatial issues being negotiated in the contemporary moment, within and beyond South Africa.

The course will also be visited by various invited community and UCT faculty speakers, and includes a week-long field trip and other shorter excursions.

Core Seminar Topics

Individual sessions will engage with debates on the following kinds of topics:

  • Conceptualising culture and race in post-apartheid South Africa Colonial histories
  • Apartheid legacies and decolonisation
  • Environmental justice, race and nature

Any of these themes can be developed further into directed studies by individual students, according to interest. Alternatively, other areas of inquiry can be developed, contingent upon faculty resources and availability of suitable academic supervision. 

  • Cities as sites of exclusion and possibility
  • South Africa in Africa: migration, nationalism and violence
  • Cultural production in the ‘new’ South Africa
  • Degradation, conservation and restoration
  • Multifunctional landscapes
  • Production, consumption and ethics: South Africa in global economic circuits
  • The commodification of culture
  • Informal is normal: dwelling and working in the majority world
"Regular" University of Cape Town Courses

In addition to the core seminar and directed study project, 1-2 regular UCT courses are required. At least one of these courses must relate to the overall theme of the program. The second course may be from an area of the student’s choosing. Consortium students take these courses with regular degree-seeking students at the University of Cape Town.

Associate Professor Pippin Anderson will assist students with academic counseling and guidance in final course selection after arrival in Cape Town. Students can start to search UCT elective classes on the Handbooks website. Consortium students choose their courses from a list of university offerings in consultation with the program’s Resident Director.  (See section on credits and grading.)

Pre-selection of the core module and directed study project (EGS 4034F and EGS 4040F) is guaranteed once you are accepted into the program. On your UCT application you must list these two courses.

Elective course choices will be finalized in the first week of February. You may, in the meantime, wish to explore possible options. Course descriptions and syllabi are available in the so-called Faculty Handbooks, which also indicate prerequisites and other details including course timetable arrangements. Because UCT course offerings may vary from year to year, students should be prepared to be flexible regarding the two elective modules; the recent Faculty Handbooks will be available in good time to enable appropriate course choices to be made. The current Faculty Handbooks (all faculties) may be downloaded at


Directed Study Project

This unique component of the consortium program engages students in collaborative, usually field-based, study in selected areas of current research in South Africa. The directed study project, or DSP, is a required component of the program. Project topics should be related to the program theme of globalization, the environment, and society. Students who have questions about their project ideas should discuss them with the appropriate consortium representative(s) at their home college before application.

Final choice of topic will be made during the core seminar, with the assistance and guidance of Dr. von Holdt, and as needs be with the seal of approval from home institution faculty advisors. Each student is then assigned an on-site project advisor, and must demonstrate learning in a lucid, compact, intellectually acute, and well-documented paper and summary oral presentation.

Students generally settle on their directed study projects a week or two into the UCT semester, leaving about 10 weeks to carry out their research. The project process requires some careful time management as the deadline at the end of the semester coincides with exams and numerous other deliverables. It is best to get going on the projects as soon as possible. The mid-semester break is an excellent time to complete the fieldwork component of the project, allowing the second half of the semester for analysis and writing. Students commonly use this short mid-semester break to catch up on outstanding work and many lecturers set assignments for submission immediately or shortly after this break. The freedom from formal classes makes this a useful time to go out and interview people or take field measurements towards your directed study project.

 Selection of recent student topics

Category: Biophysical Environmental Impacts of Globalization

  • The Cultural Landscape of Table Mountain: Changing Land Use, Changing Perspectives
  • Land Use Change in the Noordhoek Valley
  • From Grain to Grape in the Swartland: Trends and Causes of Agricultural Land Use Change
  • Actively engaging green infrastructure: Redesigning storm water ponds on the Cape Flats Aquifer for improved ecological performance  
  • Geomorphological Factors and Processes leading to Debris Flows at Betty’s Bay, Western Cape
  • Unravelling Rooibos: Regression Analysis of Historical Rooibos Yields and Climate Data
  • The Use of Anatolian Shepherd Dogs as a form of Nonlethal Predator Control in South Africa
  • The Role of Interim Solutions in Informal Settlement Greywater Management: A Study of Langrug, South Africa
  • Nutrient inputs of Rivers to False Bay
  • Trouble in Paradise: Flooding in Cape Town’s Informal Townships
  • A Biophysical Approach to Cape Town’s Spatial Formation 
  • Isotopic evidence of baboon diet mtDNA in Nile Crocodiles
  • An Investigation into the Role of the Cape Spiny Mouse (Acomys subspinosus) as a Seed Disperser of Leucadendron sessile Seeds within the Fynbos
  • Estimating the population size and distribution of Kittlitz’s Plover at Barberspan Bird Sanctuary
Category: Social, Cultural, Political and Health Impacts of Globalization
  • Funding, Stakeholders and Accessibility in Cape Town Art Galleries
  • Remixing Kirstenbosch: Propagating an Alternative Garden Culture Through the Unofficial Audio Tour
  • Community Conservation Challenges in Cape Town: Consternation or Conquest?
  • An examination of Edith Stephens Wetlands Park as an example of community based natural resource management in the urban setting of the Cape Flats, Cape Town, South Africa
  • The Framing of Informality and Resilience in Southern African Cities Land Expropriation
  • Without Compensation; An Analysis of South African News Media
  • The Liesbeek River: A Framework for Examining the Costs and Benefits of Improving an Urban River’s Ecological Status
  • Perishable: Market-based Land Reform and Agricultural Struggles in Genadendal Gentrification in the Bo-Kaap, Cape Town
  • The Return to District Six: Looking Down the Line with Rose-Tinted Glasses?
  • Destabilizing the Discourse of Township Tourism
  • “We Have No Choice”: The Barriers to Livelihoods Experienced by Refugees in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Transport Issues in Cape Town in relation to the 2010 Soccer World Cup
  • Sustainability in Cape Town’s Low-Income Housing Projects
  • Craft Sales as Pro-Poor Development Strategy in South Africa: An Analysis of Food Security and Dietary Diversity for Learners at Observatory Junior Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Assessing Empowerment Initiatives in South Africa’s Wine Sector
  • Transforming the secondary discourse: Women, property rights, and South African land redistribution policy
  • A Birdsong Yesterday: a Narrative Revolving around Rural Livelihoods within the Eastern Cape
  • Healthy Airwaves: Bush Radio 89.5FM and the Struggle of Health Promotion 
  • Health Worker Maldistribution and Migration: a South African focus Segregation in UCT Dining Halls
  • Segregation in UCT Dining Halls
  • Water access in Mandela Park/Water Access in RDP Housing?
  • Financial Payback and other Benefits of Solar Hot Water at the University of Cape Town.
  • Place based identity in a changing urban context: Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap
  • Governing Sustainability: Past and Present Challenges in Resolving South Africa’s Perlemoen Crisis
  • The Plight of Cape Town’s Emerging Small Farmers: Apartheid’s Ghost & and the Fight for Deep Democracy in the Global South’s Food Systems
  • Mobility Cultures and Passengers’ Experiences of the Wynberg Taxi Route in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Commuters, Constraints, and Food: The Geography of Choice
  • Culture and the Crafter: An Examination of Craft Promotion in the Western Cape
  • Food through the month: Understanding how the urban poor manage constrained finances and food choices
  • Gentrification: the case of lower Woodstock
  • The implications of the recent sugar tax on student cool drink purchasing
Educational Excursions

Educational excursions included in the formal program are guided and are linked to course discussions. Included, for instance, are museum visits, observations of specific ecosystems, the viewing of selected films, visits to field and laboratory research projects, and cultural events that may include one or more of the following:

  • Robben Island
  • Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art
  • Bo Kaap Museum (Cape Malay Cultural History) 
  • The District Six Museum (Apartheid Legacies, Urban Change/Environmental Impact) 
  • The Karoo National Park
  • The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
  • The Cape Peninsula and Table Mountain National Park
Additional Experiential Learning Opportunities


Independent Exploration

Successful study abroad involves engagement with the host culture and society.   The program offers ample opportunity for individual exploration and observation, and a limited number of specific group activities designed to introduce individuals to the local environment. Program participants are strongly urged to join a co-curricular or community group to foster this engagement. Suggested groups might be UCT sports clubs, cultural organizations, community service (SHAWCO at UCT), religious organizations, and volunteer activities or similar organizations in the Cape Town community which will expose participants to a wider variety of people and ways of life outside academia. Past students have also enjoyed cultural experiences such as: soccer and cricket matches, listening to live music and meeting locals in Long Street cafes, and surfing with South Africa’s best at the popular Muizenberg Beach. 

Classification of Courses at University of cape town

Students are most strongly urged to take UCT courses at the 3000-level. Students should consult the Resident Director if they are interested in 4000-level (or 5000-level) courses which may be available to students in certain instances. Students should bear in mind that most 3000-level courses have prerequisites and admission to particular courses is based on the relevant UCT course convener or Head of Department decision in relation to the applicant’s background and experience. 

Evaluation of Student Academic Performance

The Consortium Resident Director, Core Seminar Co-Instructor, and Visiting Professor are responsible for grading their respective parts of the core seminar, and will collaborate on determining the final grade. The relevant UCT or other faculty member is responsible, in consultation with the on-site project advisor and Resident Director, for grading the directed study project. The relevant UCT faculty member grades the UCT direct enrollment courses. Credit is granted by the student’s home institution; grades and transcripts are handled in a way consistent with each institution’s study abroad policies and guidelines.

UCT does not use a U.S. grade point average system. Grades are awarded at the end of the semester for individual courses and are usually based on the final examination as well as continuous assessment throughout the semester (assignments, tutorials and tests). Grades expressed as percentages are classified as first, upper second, lower second and third, similar to the British system.

Recommended Grade Conversion Table
UCT Grade Approximate U.S. Equivalent
75 - 100% First Class A
70 - 74% Second Class (Division One) B+
60 - 69% Second Class (Division Two) B
50 - 59% Third Class C
0 - 49% Fail F
DPR: Duly Performed certificate refused i.e. Not permitted to write examination F
AB: Absent from examination F


Program Fees by Institution

Each consortium institution sets its own program fees according to institutional policies on tuition and financial aid for study abroad. The consortium program cost includes tuition, grade and credit transcription, housing from program start to program end dates, local transportation for program-sponsored activities, required cultural and educational excursions, emergency medical insurance, and selected on-site academic support and administrative fees. 

Exclusions from Program Fee

Not included in the consortium program fee (although some of these may be included in individual institution fees) are the following expenses:

  • airfare
  • visas and related fees
  • passport fees
  • vaccinations
  • board
  • travel related to the directed study project
  • some meals and incidental costs during excursions
  • books
  • personal expenses (such as laundry, entertainment, personal travel, postage, gym/sports fees, internet fees, telephone fees, toiletries, and personal supplies)​​​​​
Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid and scholarships are granted only by a student’s home institution, and home institution policies and procedures concerning study abroad take precedence over consortium policies. Students are urged to check with their study abroad office for updated institution-specific guidelines and program fees.

Cost of Living in Cape Town

The cost of living in Cape Town is generally less expensive than most major U.S. cities. There are many low cost options in the vicinity of UCT for groceries and personal items. It is recommended that students talk with past program participants, program staff, and South African peers for advice on living within a student budget in Cape Town.

Find more information on the cost of living in Cape Town here: Find information on currency conversion rates here: Exchange rates fluctuate over time, so budgets should be planned accordingly.

Withdrawal After Program Start Date

Students must notify of a withdrawal by November 1, or penalties will be incurred.  The Macalester-Pomona-Swarthmore Consortium makes significant financial commitments on students’ behalf well before the start of the program. There will be no refunds on or after the program’s scheduled start date. Any student who is dismissed after beginning the program for any reason forfeits the comprehensive program fee as well as the possibility of any refund for used or unused expenses.


Charlton House

Consortium students will be lodged in self-catered housing in the vicinity of the University of Cape Town. In each case, consortium students are encouraged to establish regular contact with local residents, local students, and international students. The consortium’s Student Affairs Coordinator, together with the University of Cape Town’s Office of International Academic Programs (IAPO), will work with students on any housing concerns.

GES students will be housed in Charlton House, which consists of en suite single rooms with shared common areas, including kitchen, dining area, living room, and on-site laundry. Bedding is provided. On-site security guards will be provided by the consortium. 

Student Responsibilities

Students are responsible for maintaining their personal living space as well as living space shared with other program participants. The cost of repairing any damages or replacing missing or broken items will be the responsibility of individual program participants. Damage to shared living space that cannot be attributed to an individual will be billed to the entire group and divided per person. Transcripts will not be released until any charges are settled with the program.


Home Campus Support

Macalester College

Office of Study Away
Markim Hall, Second Floor
(651) 696-6300
Shanti Freitas, Interim Director

Pomona College

Office of Study Abroad
Oldenborg Residence
(909) 621-8154
Nicole Desjardins Gowdy, Senior Director
Annie Lam, Assistant Director

Swarthmore College

Global Engagement Office (GEO)
Cunningham House
(610) 328-7827
Lauren Owens, Director of Operations
Professor Carr Everbach, Consortium Director
The GES Team in Cape Town

Resident Director

Associate Prof. Pippin Anderson, Associate Professor in Environmental & Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town

Assistant Director

Associate Prof. Shari Daya, Associate Professor in Environmental & Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town

Core Seminar


Associate Prof. Shari Daya, Associate Professor in Environmental & Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town


Dr. Daniel Trudeau, Professor at Chair of Geography at Macalester College

Directed Study Project Convener

Dr. Johannna (Jore) von Holdt, Lecturer at University of Cape Town

Student Affairs Coordinator

Molly Anderson

Assistant Student Affairs Coordinator

Kolosa Ntombini


International Academic Programmes Office at University of Cape Town (IAPO)

UCT has a total student body of 26,357 students. The International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) welcomes all international students to UCT, Cape Town and South Africa. UCT is home to approximately 5,000 international students from over 117 countries. With international students representing 20% of the population, the campus represents a diverse mix of people, cultures, religions, values and expectations. 

IAPO provides wide-ranging support services to international students. Any international student in need of advice or support while at UCT is encouraged to contact the International Academic Programs Office for assistance. This includes general enquiries from prospective students, advice on the safety of the area you wish to stay in, the appropriateness of working while in South Africa, application for study permit, general advice about your stay at UCT, etc. Should IAPO not be able to assist you, they will refer you to the relevant service provider on or off-campus. 

Contact Information:

Physical Address: Level 3 Masingene Building.  Cross Campus Road. UCT Middle Campus.
Tel: + 27 21 650 2822 / 3740
Fax: + 27 21 650 5667

More information can be found on the IAPO website at

Disability Services At the University of Cape Town

UCT’s Disability Service provides support for students with a range of disabilities. This includes advising on disability accommodations at UCT and provision of services, counseling support, wheelchair guide map, shuttle service for students with physical disabilities, text conversion and assistive technology, note takers, and facilitation of exam accommodations.

The laws governing disability support differ in South Africa from those in the U.S. If you have received any disability-related accommodations at your home institution, you should inform your college’s study abroad office to discuss your accommodation needs and options while abroad. Due to Medical/Privacy Laws, your home college cannot automatically transfer your information to another entity without your consent. 

Students should be prepared to register with UCT’s Disability Service as soon as possible (ideally, before departure), if they are seeking disability-related accommodations. Students must provide official documentation from their home institutions along with additional psychological and/or medical documentation. 

Where is the Disability Service?

The Disability Service is located in the Steve Biko Students Union building, one floor above the Food Court, in the building next to the main Upper Campus Library, and one floor down from SHAWCO and the Student Societies offices. Access to the 4th floor is via the lift or stairs.

Physical Address:  Disability Service Reception.  Room 4.03, Level 4D.  Steve Biko Students Union Building.  Upper Campus.

Tel: 021 650 2427

More information can be found at 

UCT Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC):

Health and Safety Resources at the University of Cape Town

The following information is from the University of Cape Town International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO):

Emergency Contacts

UCT offers emergency support for students if needed. We recommend you save the following numbers:

Campus Protection Services: (+27) 21 650 2222

IAPO emergency contact (all hours): (+27) 76 346 2397

General administrative inquiries (office hours only): 21 650 2822

Campus Protection Service (CPS) at University of Cape Town

UCT’s Campus Protection Service (CPS) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When walking on campus, students should use the preferred pedestrian routes, which have safety bollards along the path. Students are also encouraged to follow this route when walking between upper and lower campus. The nine emergency bollards, which are evenly spaced along the routes, are covered by CCTV and have an intercom linked directly to Campus Protection Service (CPS). Each bollard has a very distinctive flashing blue light on the top for easy identification.

Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct
U.S.-Based Support 

All college policies of Macalester, Pomona, and Swarthmore Colleges regarding sex discrimination and sexual misconduct apply to students on the GES Cape Town program. Students who have been subjected to sexual assault, harassment, or abuse are strongly encouraged to notify an in-country staff member and to contact their home institution’s Title IX office or the Dean of Students Office for support and guidance. Title IX coordinators, policies, and resources for each of the colleges can be found on the following websites: 

Macalester College:
Email: Interim Title IX Coordinator 

Pomona College: 
Email: Erica Morrer, Associate Dean & Title IX Coordinator 

Swarthmore College: 
Email: Bindu Jayne, Title IX Coordinator, 

Office for Inclusivity & Change (OIC) at University of Cape Town

The OIC is based at UCT and provides 24-hour emergency assistance for rape and sexual assault survivors both online and in-person. This includes immediate trauma support and advice, referral to Victoria Hospital Forensic Unit for medical care, trauma counselling and an optional forensic examination, and also support, advice and assistance if the survivor decides to report the incident and/or take the case to court. 

UCT policies on sexual harassment, sexual offences, sexual orientation, racism and racial harassment, disability, HIV infection and Aids, and mediation can be found on the UCT policies web page.

Physical Address: Ivan Toms Building, 28 Rhodes Avenue, Mowbray (Next to the Student Wellness Service)

Tel: 021 650 2767

More information can be found at:


Please keep in mind that even if you follow every piece of advice exactly, sexual assault can occur. If you are a victim of sexual assault or harassment while abroad, we encourage you to share your experience with someone. For many people, the first step in the healing process is to talk about it.


General Advice

As an admitted student, you must research and ensure that you will meet the requirements for travel to and entry into South Africa, such as passports, visas, and vaccinations. Students must purchase their own flights to South Africa, according to any guidelines issued by their home college.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides useful information on vaccines recommended or required for travel to South Africa. Current information can be found here: It is recommended that you visit your doctor or a travel clinic at least a month in advance of your travel to discuss your plans and any vaccines that may be recommended or required.

Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)

All program participants are covered for supplemental health and travel insurance through Swarthmore College’s policy through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). Students are responsible to obtain their own insurance coverage for periods before or after the official enrollment dates of their program. This can also be obtained through CISI. Students should carefully review the policy, including any exclusions to the policy.

Once students are registered for the insurance by Swarthmore’s Off-Campus Study office they will receive an email from CISI with login information to the CISI website. Students should print out a copy of their insurance card and retain their login information. The CISI website provides information on physical and mental health providers in cities throughout the world who will accept payment directly from CISI. Otherwise students must provide payment for services and submit reimbursement requests to CISI.

Through the CISI website students can access a range of country-specific information, medical and security information, and search for health providers by country and city.

Contacting CISI:

If you have any questions regarding your benefits or the claims submission do not hesitate to contact CISI. Be sure to include your policy number on all communications by email or mail:

Calling toll-free from within the United States: 800-303-8120 ext. 5130 
Calling from outside the United States: 203-399-5130
Mailing Address: 1 High Ridge Park, Stamford, CT 06905

South African Insurance

A requirement for study at UCT is: “Proof of medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.”

This additional insurance policy will be provided and purchased for you through Momentum Health Ingwe Medical Schemes. 

Below is more information and contact numbers for this health insurance:
Customer Care: 0860 102 493
Hospital Pre-Authorisation: 0860 102 493
Emergency Evacuation: 0860 082 911
Health Advice Line: 0860 102 493
Email Enquiries: 

Personal Property Insurance

Participants should consider purchasing property insurance to cover personal items taken on the program such as cameras and laptop computers. Participants should check to see if their homeowner’s insurance policy covers them for this type of loss, and what would be required to make a claim. Property insurance can be purchased separately from CISI.

The GES Consortium does not provide property insurance and is not insured for the property losses of participants.