Ubuntu: Fordham in Pretoria, A Service-Learning Program

In the past few decades, South Africa’s transformation has captured the attention of people around the world, and in recent years students have, in increasing numbers, sought educational opportunities abroad in this emerging democratic nation. The vast challenges faced by a society attempting to provide equal access to opportunity and the energy with which South Africans have committed themselves to bring about meaningful changes, provide an ideal environment for a study abroad program. Ubuntu, the Fordham in Pretoria program, offers you a structured and supportive environment for study and engagement with South African people and their history while also offering an array of opportunities to do valuable service and to reflect on your experience.

Based at the University of Pretoria, the leading research university in South Africa, and in collaboration with The Jesuit Institute of South Africa, Fordham in Pretoria offers students opportunities to do elective or major work while being active in service learning. Structured reflection sessions throughout the semester allow participants to consider the complexities and challenges facing Pretoria specifically and South Africa generally.


All participants will take a Core Course that explores the relevant historical and socio-economic issues impacting the local communities, specific demographics and South Africa. In addition, a required module in Sociology, Poverty, and Human Development provides an overview of the macro socio-economic and political context for development in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals as well as a forum for considering and analyzing poverty reduction strategies and their relevance in various community settings. From both a theoretical and experiential perspective, Ubuntu students will explore and critically discuss the place and role of participation, capacity building, empowerment and partnerships in sustainable development. They will also consider various ways of approaching community engagement and service-learning activities.


Each participant will also take two additional courses (modules) from one or more of the following departments at the University of Pretoria:

  • Anthropology and Archaeology
  • Drama
  • Economic and Management Sciences
  • Education
  • English
  • Historical and Heritage Studies
  • International Relations, Journalism
  • Political Sciences
  • Social Work and Criminology
  • Sociology
  • Theology


The Service-Learning component of the program will be coordinated by the University of Pretoria. The practice lecturer for the sociology module will work closely with the program’s Academic Coordinator to develop schedules that provide participants a once-a-week full-day opportunity to meaningfully engage with the local community and do service of value.

In addition to the regular monthly service-learning reflection sessions, and as a complement to course work done at the University of Pretoria, the program will feature two reflective weekend retreats in North Pretoria as well as weekly one-on-one spirituality sessions designed to encourage participants to consider their academic and service-learning experience, in relation to larger questions about life, justice, faith and personal beliefs. Placement venues include:

Erasmus Community is a semi-rural settlement of roughly 10,000 people about an hour away from Pretoria with a community organization led by local residents actively engaged with projects in primary education, computer training, nutrition, childcare, agriculture, bridge building and other construction projects.

The University of Pretoria Center for the Study of AIDS sponsors a series of programs to better understand the complexities of the HIV&AIDS epidemic(s) in South Africa. In collaboration with the University of Pretoria, African parlamentarians and international organizations, the Center has developed a range of interventions to address the social drivers, and social consequences, of HIV&AIDS. These include community-level rights, gender, stigma, sexuality and youth programs.

Mercy House is a residence for South African women escaping violent relationships and non-South African women who have been victims of trafficking. The house is run by the Sisters of Mercy, a Religious Women’s Congregation founded by Catherine McAuley in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland.

Iona Convent School is a primary and secondary school committed to making education accessible to children from diverse skilled working-class backgrounds from previously disadvantaged areas of the northwest and northern Gauteng provinces. Originally founded by the Sisters of Mercy, the school is now entirely run by lay people and has five hundred students.


Marquette University South Africa Service Learning Program


PROGRAM NAME: Marquette University South Africa Service Learning Program
PROGRAM LOCATION: Cape Town, South Africa

Marquette University’s South Africa Service Learning Program, in conjunction with the University of the Western Cape, offers students the unique opportunity to increase their understanding of the people, history, culture, and traditions of South Africa through integrated academic coursework and direct immersion in the culture through community-based service.

The program’s curriculum accommodates students from all academic disciplines; required courses include Theology of Reconciliation and Forgiveness, Leaders in Grassroots Organizations, and two courses of students’ choice at the University of the Western Cape where students study alongside South African and international students. Lectures in required courses are given by well-known scholars and important community members such as theologian John de Gruchy, literary scholar and author Antjie Krog, and Linda Biehl, founder of the Amy Biehl Foundation, which works to prevent violence among the youth of South Africa through music, arts, sports education and more. Students engage in service work two full days per week at one of over a dozen non-governmental organizations with whom Marquette has established a connection. Service sites include but are not limited to: The Saartjie Baartman Center for Women & Children, Sibanye Economic Empowerment, the Women and Peace Building Programme, Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse (RAPCAN), and many others which have as common themes empowerment and giving voice to the voiceless. Continue reading