Public Health & Development in South Africa

  • Student with locals
  • Students walking on mountain
  • Students with Cape sign
  • Students with statues

About This Program

Spring Quarter 2018

  • Application deadline: November 1
  • IPD study abroad fellowship application deadline: November 1
  • Program dates: Tuesday, April 3, 2018  - Sunday, June 17, 2018

Spring Quarter 2018: $21,613

Total fees charged by Northwestern: $17,413, includes: 

Estimated additional costs: $4,200, includes:

  • $1,800 round-trip airfare to Cape Town, South Africa (students book their own airfare; rates vary)
  • $100 for books and supplies
  • $2,300 for discretionary expenses, including meals, transportation, personal expenses, and incidentals

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD study abroad scholarships and may be eligible for external funding opportunities

Students participating in this program are subject to the Withdrawal and Refund Policies for Northwestern-Sponsored Programs.


The Northwestern IPD Public Health & Development in South Africa program introduces students to public health issues, development policies, and political reform in contemporary South Africa. Courses are taught in English by faculty at Stellenbosch University.

Public health focus

Within the context of South Africa’s unique socio-political and cultural background, students will explore the country’s most pressing healthcare issues and the challenges of delivering healthcare in light of widespread poverty in the post-apartheid era. Students will have the unparalleled opportunity to engage with leading health practitioners through organized excursions to public and private hospitals and clinics, grassroots organizations, and private agencies in Stellenbosch and Cape Town. Students will also spend a week at Kruger National Park to learn about community health and development. 

Host institution

Founded in 1881, Stellenbosch University (originally Stellenbosch College) is one of the top research universities in South Africa. Stellenbosch University is located in the beautiful Jonkershoek Valley in the center of the Western Cape Winelands. Stellenbosch is the second oldest city in South Africa and about a 35-minute drive from Cape Town.

Housing & meals

Students stay in Concordia, an international dorm in the residential area on campus. Each student will share a flat with other Northwestern students of the same gender. Flats are furnished with a bed, desk, chair, closet, a mini-kitchen, and wired Internet access. Students are responsible for the cost of all meals.


This is a Northwestern program with a set curriculum, so students must enroll in the Northwestern courses listed below. All courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcript and are figured into their Northwestern GPA.

POLI SCI 358-SA: Contemporary South Africa: A Political Economy/Policy Perspective

This course aims to help students develop a framework for analyzing contemporary South African politics. The course will briefly deal with the apartheid past and the transition to democracy and then cover party politics at present and politics of race. Toward the end of the course, students will explore three important policy issues (political economy, gender equality and HIV/AIDS) before the course concludes by asking the question if South Africa can consolidate its democracy.

AF ST 360-SA: South African Culture, Language, and Identity

This course is an introduction to South African culture, identity issues and languages. Through seminar discussions and field experiences, students will develop an understanding of how the attitudes, ideas and values of individuals and groups in South Africa are represented in their history and languages as well as through art, literature, religion, food, cultural practices and customs, and other creative activities. Field experiences will encourage interaction with different South African populations in order to understand and make connections between different contemporary South African cultures.

GBL HLTH 315-SA: Public Health in South Africa

This course will combine lectures and visits to public health care sites in the Western Cape, including clinics, agencies, and NGOs. Students will learn about the health care system in South Africa, as well as explore important health issues, including: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malnutrition and poverty, psychosocial rehabilitation, and environmental and occupational health.

GBL HLTH 316-SA: Development Perspectives on Health in South Africa through Community Engagement

Students will reflect upon service-learning experiences at community-based organizations in relation to theories of international development and global health. The course uses a sociological and social anthropological approach to understand tensions between economic and health policies and the ways in which they have influenced society and the state in the post-apartheid era. The focus is on the impacts of health-related issues on development, including HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and poverty, environmental health, occupational health, gender, and child development. 


Kruger National Park & Hamakuya

Under the direction of noted scholar David Bunn, a Northwestern University alumnus, students will visit Kruger National Park and Hamakuya, a rural local village. Students will participate in activities rarely open to other visitors, including game viewing drives, night walks in the veld, and a homestay in Hamakuya, all the while learning about the culture, history, research, and challenges of the places visited.


Johannesburg is an important cultural, political, and historic center in South Africa. Possible visits in Johannesburg include Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, and the Cradle of Humankind.

Local excursions

Local excursions include visits to townships and local attractions in and around Stellenbosch as well as important historical, social, and cultural sites in Cape Town. Students will also have the option to visit Cape Point and the Garden Route.